Tuktoyaktuk’s Science Day event highlights impacts of climate change

Topics such as the region’s eroding coastline and melting permafrost were put on display for residents and tourists to see

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The Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk hosted a Science Day event on Aug. 1 to draw more attention to the impacts that climate change is having on the region.

A total of 17 organizations conducting research projects in the area had displays set up throughout the Kitti Hall Centre, which gave residents and tourists an idea of the climate related issues that are affecting the environment. 

Topics that were explored at the event included the region’s eroding coastline, melting permafrost, the Mackenzie-Beaufort ice break-up and more. 

Scientists and interviewers always ask me, ‘What do you do?’ All we can do is educate the people in the south how to conserve energy,” said Merven Gruben, the mayor of Tuktoyaktuk. “Be more energy efficient. But we’re just a drop in a bucket to what’s going on in the world.”

Featured organizations and institutions included the Aurora Research Institute, Parks Canada, the Canadian Ranger Ocean Watch program, Royal Roads University, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and more.

I’m really happy and proud that this turned out this well,” said Gruben. “It just goes to show how much interest there is in our part of the world, the North and our Tuk area.”

Talia Cockney, right, participates in coastal erosion demonstration with Joel McAlister, the manager of the Aurora Research Institute’s Western Arctic Research Centre, during Tuktoyaktuk’s Science Day event on Aug. 1. Aaron Hemens/NNSL photo
Talia Cockney, right, participates in coastal erosion demonstration with Joel McAlister, the manager of the Aurora Research Institute’s Western Arctic Research Centre, during Tuktoyaktuk’s Science Day event on Aug. 1. Aaron Hemens/NNSL photo

The event was organized by Gruben and Scott Dallimore of the Geological Survey of Canada, following their visit to Ottawa for a conference last October.

We’re tired of being studied to death, so I figured that we do something in Tuk. Bring them up here where the action is – where it’s actually happening.” said Gruben. “Where it’s melting under our feet. Let them see what it is.”

By bringing all the researchers and their projects together under one roof, he said that he hopes that visitors become more aware of the stark issues plaguing the region.

A lot of the people here at this event are from universities and governments around Canada. I’m hoping that they will bring back what they learned here,” he said. “Give them a few tours so that they can actually see what’s happening on the ground.”

He added that he is alarmed by the various climate-related problems that are strewn throughout the area.

We’re doing the best we can with the erosion problem along the shore. We’re doing all that we can with what little we have,” he said. “The one thing we can’t do is protect the permafrost melting. How do you protect the circumpolar world?”

Merven Gruben, the mayor of Tuktoyaktuk, co-organized the community’s Science Day event that took place at the hamlet’s Kitti Hall Centre on Aug. 1. Aaron Hemens/NNSL photo
Merven Gruben, the mayor of Tuktoyaktuk, co-organized the community’s Science Day event that took place at the hamlet’s Kitti Hall Centre on Aug. 1. Aaron Hemens/NNSL photo

In terms of what more needs to be done to combat such issues, he said that more education is required for all Canadians.

Not only people down south, but in our community. More awareness,” he said. “We’re trying to do something. Make more people aware of our problems up here. We all work together, we can fix it.”

Although these issues pose a threat to the community, he said that the Inuvialuit of Tuktoyaktuk will find a way to adapt.

Inuvialuit people have been here for thousands of years. We’re adaptable. But I’ve never felt more threatened than we are right now,” he said. “It is scary. But we’re adaptable people. We’ll survive, but it’s just going to be tough.”

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