Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg crossed the ocean on a sail boat.
The Swede addressed the United Nations, and rallied the climate strike crowd in Montreal.
Travelling to the Northwest Territories, however, may be a bridge too far.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, Francois Paulette, a waterkeeper and University of Alberta adjunct professor living in Fort Smith, suggested Thunberg continue North after visiting Edmonton, the latest destination on her North American tour.
She hasn’t yet responded to other residents’ requests, but there’s another snag to the trip: Thunberg doesn’t fly or travel in non-electric vehicles.
Paulette said the territorial government had done little to combat the climate crisis, and Thunberg would be a welcome voice and role model for Northerners.
However, Alberta Premier Jason Kenny and members of his government declined to meet with Thunberg, and there’s a chance other NWT leaders would follow suit, but Paulette said the North was impacted enough to warrant the visit.
As for the electric car, Paulette said that if she crossed the ocean, she can visit NWT — though “how it long it takes, that’s another story.”
Paulette met Thunberg last year in Poland during the UN COP climate change conference. She was a quiet, “normal young lady,” he said, that engaged more passionately when talk turned to the climate.
At the conference, he spoke about the climate challenges facing the North, which he describes as “the most highly sensitive ground zero to climate change in any part of the country.” He said most of the people who live near the Slave or Mackenzie Rivers see the results of industrial development in the Alberta oil sands, adding that this area sees the highest rates of stomach cancer in the country.
Meanwhile, NWT Green Party Campaign Manager Neesha Rao wrote a request to Thunberg over email on Monday.
Rao compared Thunberg to Autumn Peltier, who addressed the United Nations on clean water at the end of September. She said young leaders like them send “a clear message to adults in power that we have to do something about climate change.”
She said the visit could be a rallying point for climate action ahead of the federal election, pointing to the Sept. 27 climate strike in Yellowknife, which organizers said attracted around 1,000 people.
“Children speak with such clarity and truth and say it with such purity, and I think we as adults have an obligation to listen to kids when they speak so clearly,” she said.
Rao said “it would be a huge inspiring moment,” though “it would be a little bit of an Ikea-run to get Greta,” owing to her mobility issues.
Yellowknife North MLA Rylund Johnson never got a response to his invite, and acknowledged there were a lack of charging stations for electric vehicles along the highway.
He said the North was nevertheless lacking a voice on climate change on the international stage. “I think the publicity that Greta is getting right now is a tool that can be used to bring our voice to the table.”
One of his goals for the next four years is to have territorial leaders point out the North is disproportionately feeling the effects of climate change, citing coastal erosion, permafrost slumps and declining caribou populations.
On top of that, Johnson said Thunberg is a representative of a youth movement that had spread to young people through the territory.
“If she can do that, so can anyone else up here in the North,” he said.