“Big message”: Northern delegates bring indigenous youth perspective to COP27


YELLOWKNIFE – Carissa Waugh says her family hasn’t been able to set up their fishing nets as before due to declining salmon numbers in the Yukon.

“With this, we lose our connection to our culture,” said the 29-year-old, who also goes by the Northern Tutchone name Eke Ewe.

“We are not able to set up this net and teach the younger generation how to go and set the net, how to get the fish out of the net, how to fillet it and feed the community.”

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game said last summer 12,025 chinook salmon entered Canada, where their spawning grounds are. This is the lowest number on record and well below the target of 42,500 to 55,000 fish set out in an agreement between Canada and the United States.

Waughis Taku River Tlingit First Nation of Crow Clan and Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation ancestry. A member of the Yukon First Nations Climate Action Fellowship, she is one of many Indigenous and youth delegates from Yukon and the Northwest Territories who traveled to Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, for the United Nations climate change conference. climate, also known as COP27, to share how they saw first-hand their communities affected by climate change.

“My big message is that we need to invest in our Indigenous youth,” she said.

Jocelyn Joe-Strack, also known as Daqualama, is a member of the Wolf Clan of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, holder of a Research Chair in Indigenous Knowledge at the University of the Yukon and Co-Director of the Yukon First Nations Climate Action Fellowship. She said she was on several panels at COP27 to talk about how Yukon First Nations are at the forefront of self-determination.

“The simple fact of being able to demonstrate the power and the potential to ensure that indigenous peoples have their rights and are able to make decisions that take into account young people and future generations,” she said.

Joe-Strack said she wanted to learn more about solutions to climate change that focus on “returning to humanity.”

“I think the solutions that really focus on reducing emissions, electric cars, on the measurable, the tangible, still waiting for the status quo without any real change to the root cause which is our unbalanced way of life.”

Monique Chapman, who grew up in Yellowknife and is from Fond du Lac Denesuline First Nation in northern Saskatchewan, said she was shocked and moved when she learned she had been selected to participate in the COP27 as part of the Northwest Territories delegation.

“We’re a small part of Canada and the world, but we’re impacted a lot,” she said. “Hopefully putting a face to the people trying to help fight this or help find solutions helps get more buy-in across the table.”

Chapman, 26, works as a waste reduction analyst with the territorial government and says she is passionate about youth engagement. She studied marine biology at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia and said she hopes to further her education by continuing her studies in science communication.

“It’s so important to know how to communicate to the general public about climate change and the role of the public and how everyone can get involved.”

Reegan Jungkind, who grew up in Hay River, Northwest Territories, and is studying political science, sociology and sustainability at the University of Alberta, said she cried for ‘probably three hours when she learned that she was going to Egypt. She said she was looking forward to meeting people and bringing what she learned back to her community.

“I hope I can make the voice of young people in the North heard,” she said.

“No one really understands the perspectives of the North or thinks about them in different contexts.

Jungkind, 20, said when she recently participated in a youth ambassador program in New York, representatives from other countries were shocked to learn that the North is affected by climate change as they saw it as a southern problem.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference runs from November 6-18 and focuses on adapting to climate change, building resilience and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Northwest Territories and Yukon delegations are co-hosting a roundtable on climate adaptation and resilience in Canada’s North. Some Yukon delegates are also part of a panel with Prince Edward Island and British Columbia on efforts across Canada to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Rebecca Turpin, director of the Yukon Climate Change Secretariat, said the conference “isn’t business as usual” as world leaders have made statements about how countries aren’t moving fast enough to fight. against climate change. Efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions remain insufficient to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C by end of century, new UN Climate Change report says

“I’m optimistic because I feel like this is our chance to really jump on it and not wait any longer to really invest, especially for the North, in transportation and heating,” Turpin said, adding that these are the main sources of emissions in the territory.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on November 13, 2022.


This story was produced with the financial assistance of Meta and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.


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