An Inuit-driven climate change strategy was revealed at Inuvik’s Ingamo Hall Friendship Centre on June 7, which will see Inuit communities and governments across the Inuit Nunangat collaborate to address the growing concerns that the globe’s changing climate is having on the region.
The Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK)’s climate change committee had worked for two years to develop to the National Inuit Climate Change Strategy, a framework that functions to protect Inuit culture, language and livelihood against the effects of climate change.
“Our strategy talks about Inuit and Inuit societies, as well as talks about the importance of our environment and the national environment, and all living things within it,” said Natan Obed, the president of ITK.
“But really, climate change is something that has impacted Inuit – but we did not create it,” he said.
The ITK is a national representational organization for the 65,000 Inuit living in Canada. The majority of the Inuit population live in the Inuit Nunangat, which is made up of 51 communities across the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Nunavut, Nunavik (Northern Quebec) and Nunatsiavut (Northern Labrador).
“We know that climate change is directly and indirectly impacting our health, whether it be our personal health, our community health and environmental health,” said Obed. “We also understand that it impacts food security and the way in which we can provide for our families, the way we in which we interact with all living things within Inuit Nunangat, in our environment.”
The strategy has five priority areas of focus:
- to advance Inuit knowledge and capacity in climate decision-making
- to improve Inuit and environmental health and wellness
- to reduce the climate vulnerability of Inuit and market food systems
- to close the infrastructure gap with new climate resilient buildings
- to support regional and community driven energy solutions that will lead to Inuit energy dependence
“We worry about our future and our future children, grandchildren and what world they will inherit,” said Obed.
Anne Kendrick, the senior policy advisor who oversees wildlife and environmental issues at ITK, said that the first priority – advancing Inuit knowledge and capacity – will act as the foundation of work that the other four priorities will build off of.
“It focuses on the broad objectives of strengthening Inuit driven climate change policies and actions, supporting necessarily diverse and unique regional Inuit climate change strategies,” said Kendrick. “Promoting Inuit climate change research and monitoring, and keeping an eye on long term outcomes.”
At the heart of the strategy, she continued, is the Inuit’s determination to work together to achieve mitigation, adaptation and resilience building efforts.
“This strategy is a roadmap, laying out the path for Inuit to work together with others in meaningful partnerships, and yet building sustainable and resilient communities in the face of our rapidly changing environment,” she said.
Federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna attended the announcement, where she said that the federal government will contribute $1 million to help implement the strategy.
“What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic: we’re all impacted,” said McKenna. “It’s not just the right for Inuit to be cold, because when it stops being cold here, we’ve got a big problem for everyone around the world.”
She added that she’s committed to help the Inuit take action against climate change, and will continue to stand up against those who deny it.
“It’s unfortunate when in my job, some people want to fight me on whether climate change is real,” she said. “I’ll just send them all up here and you can show them. You can talk to people who still can’t understand the science behind climate change, because it’s really clear.”