Youth climate change summit coming to Inuvik

From Aug. 22 to 28, youth from around the North will meet with local Elders, researchers and scientists to learn about the impacts that climate change is having on the region

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Inuvik and other surrounding communities throughout the Beaufort Delta Region will be the focal point of Ecology North’s Young Leaders’ Summit on Northern Climate Change event that’s taking place later this summer.

Around 11 to 15 youth between the ages of 18 and 30 years old will be travelling to Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk from Aug. 22 to 28, where they’ll meet with local residents, politicians, researchers and scientists to learn more about how climate change is impacting the region. 

It’s designed to help bring young people from across the Canadian North together to learn about climate change, to have as much information as possible, and to get people excited about engaging their communities and where they live in climate action,” said Craig Scott, the executive director at Ecology North.

Craig Scott is the executive director of Ecology North. NNSL file photo
Craig Scott is the executive director of Ecology North. NNSL file photo

In addition to meeting Elders, hunters and harvesters, Scott said that the participants will also get a chance to get out on the land and onto people’s camps to get a first-hand look at the effects of climate change.

To look for examples of adaptation, mitigation and solutions to climate change,” he said. “To give people the chance to learn what we can do to solve this issue, as opposed to the problems causing it.”

Topics that will be explored during the summit includes the region’s melting permafrost, the Mackenzie River’s changing water conditions, Tuktoyaktuk’s eroding coastline and more.

The eroding coastline is a huge one. You can actually see it in action there,” said Scott. “The impact that it’s having on the community, but also on marine mammals and people’s ability to work on the land.”

Rather than talking about climate related issues in the classroom, he said that the summit offers youth the opportunity to actually feel, see and touch the impacts of climate change. 

It’s their future that we’re really talking about here. Everybody has to be part of the discussion, but we’re hoping that the youth will be more present in the conversation and pushing our current leaders to do more,” he said. “It’s their future and they need to understand the implications, and then step-up and push our leaders to do more.

The end goal, he continued, is to enable youth to have a more active role in combating climate change.

It’s important that we move forward and give everybody more opportunities to understand the science and how urgent this climate emergency is. I think it has to start with the youth,” he said. “As you see with the Fridays for Future Strikes, they have a big voice in this and they have to be listened to.”

This is the fifth Young Leaders’ Summit that Ecology North has hosted since 2009, an event that has been held every two years in different cities throughout the nations’ three territories.

August’s summit will be the second time that Inuvik has held the event, 10 years after hosting the initial one.

What we’re hoping to do is engage a big group of youth, and to create a network of like-minded, young environmentalists who understand the issue and can help to really make something happen in their own communities in the North as they become future leaders,” said Scott.

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Aaron Hemens served as the editor of the Inuvik Drum from January to August 2019. He's responsible for reporting on everything Inuvik, from covering community gatherings and sporting events, to writing the weekly columns. He's a dedicated photographer who loves getting to know the town through the community members that he meets. He's originally from Ottawa, Ont., where he graduated from Carleton University's journalism program in 2018. He can be contacted at 867-777-4545 or at inuvikdrum@nnsl.com. You can check out his photos on his Instagram account: @aaron.hemens.