Young Leaders’ Summit on Northern Climate Change: Where the rubber and the passion hits the road!

The Cause

Ecology North, Pembina Institute, and Dene Nation are partnering to plan a third Young Leaders’ Summit on Northern Climate Change to be held in August 2015, following successful summits in Inuvik and Yellowknife in 2009 and 2011. This time we are shaking things up by taking the youth on the road, caravan-style from Fort Smith all the way to the Legislative Assembly in Yellowknife. We will spend 5 days travelling 740 km by bus.

The theme of the 2015 Summit will be “Building Land-based Leadership to Effect Change”. There will be an emphasis on experiential on-the-land learning.

Along the way we will engage with communities and hear about their experiences with climate change, meet elders in traditional settings, share stories, and dialogue while pulling a net, or picking berries. We will visit burned areas and learn about the impact of climate change on forest fires while picking morel mushrooms. The youth will be challenged at different stops to figure out riddles, complete hikes, paddle canoes, survive a night alone, orienteer, and work as a team. They will experience unexpected meetings with harvesters, elders, scientists, and others along the way and learn first-hand how climate change is altering the northern landscape. In the bus, and around campfires, we will discuss the political landscape to help the young leaders better understand how they can make their voices heard and effect change.

By the end of the trip, the youth will collaborate to produce a Declaration containing a set of recommendations for climate policy, as well as media materials (videos, audio recordings, etc) containing interviews and experiences from the caravan.

The collaborative team-building aspects of the tour will help build lasting connections that will allow participants to continue working together after they go home; these efforts will receive ongoing support from the organizers.

Who Will it Benefit?

The Summit will involve approximately 20 to 25 youth aged 18-30, with the majority selected from across the three Territories, Nunavik and Nunatsiavut. Up to five participants would be selected from the rest of Canada; the southern participants should have existing connections with the North and be active in climate advocacy at the federal level. As reflected in the two previous summits, it is expected that this year will once again feature a high percentage of First Nations, Inuit and Métis participants.

Canada’s northern regions have been experiencing climate change more rapidly and severely than most other parts of the world. These changes present a number of environmental and socio-economic challenges to both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities across the north. Young people have a major stake in climate change mitigation and adaptation, since the outcome of today’s efforts will determine to what degree dangerous climate change is averted in the future. There is already significant mobilization of youth at the international level on climate change. However, such dialogue on climate change policy is still weak in the North, despite northerners being among the largest per capita emitters of greenhouse gases and living in a region that is already feeling the impacts of climate change.

We truly believe that experiential land-based learning is the most transformative kind of learning. The young leaders will not simply be passive learners; each person will be asked to take on responsibilities for chores, meals, daily camp set-up and breakdown. The youth will not be provided with an itinerary, but will be expected to adapt and learn as they go. A travelling Summit will equip young people with the confidence and leadership skills needed for them to step up and make a difference for their communities and the north as a whole.