Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation will declare a climate emergency next month, says its chief Dana Tizya-Tramm, and communities across Gwich’in Nation and beyond could sign on. (James Munson/Yukon News file)

‘Like watching a nuclear explosion in slow motion’: Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation is gearing up to declare a climate emergency

The hope is that other communities will back the plan

Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation will declare a climate emergency next month, says its chief, and communities across Gwich’in Nation and beyond could sign on.

“The point of the declaration is to invite regional, domestic and international leaders and organizations into our fold,” said Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm. “We’re trying to provide an avenue for citizens, the laity and for leadership, for everybody to work together in creating awareness and also to galvanize all of us around the solutions.

“We’re hoping that this is gonna set off a cascade effect and this declaration is going to gain signatures across the North.”

The signing and passage of the declaration will coincide with Caribou Days in Old Crow, which is planned between May 17 and 20.

“We have an opportunity here with the Gwich’in Nation, which stretches from Alaska through northern Yukon into N.W.T., as well as the 14 First Nations in the Yukon. You can see the political stage here,” Tizya-Tramm said.

A sobering report released on April 1 called Canada’s Changing Climate Report says the North is warming faster than the rest of the country.

While Canada’s average annual temperature has risen by 1.7 C between 1948 and 2016 (two times the global average), it’s higher in the North: the territories have seen a 2.3 C increase — three times the global average — during the same timeframe, according to the report.

According to a temperature-change map in the report, an area in the Yukon stretching roughly from the west of Old Crow down to Eagle Plains and east to the border with N.W.T. saw one of the biggest warm-ups across the country, with the annual average temperature increasing by about 3.5 C.

In the Old Crow Flats, thawing permafrost has been linked to the loss of about 3,000 hectares of lake area between 1951 and 2007. As permafrost under lakes melts, the water can suddenly drain into the now-thawed land. The report says “catastrophic lake drainages in this region have become more than five times more frequent in recent decades.

Asked about this report, Tizya-Tramm said climate change is “like watching a nuclear explosion in slow motion, and it’s coming for us.”

Lakes emptying and melting permafrost are some examples he brought up.

“Our elders have spoke about what’s to come in the future and the most common thing I hear is ‘I’ve never seen this before,’” he said.

Hunters and gatherers talk about the impacts, too.

“This correlates with reports,” Tizya-Tramm said. “We can read the writing on the wall.

“The difficult conversation around climate change is that a lot of people won’t jump off the sidelines into the game until it’s happening in their backyard. Well, it’s already happening in our backyard, and we need to invite this rest of Canada and the Yukon into our efforts moving forward.”

With files from Jackie Hong

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

Climate change

Just Posted

Lorraine Kuhn is seen with one of the many volleyball teams she coached. (Photo submitted by Sport Yukon)
The Yukon Sports Hall of Fame inducts the late Lorraine Kuhn

Lorraine Kuhn became the newest member of the Yukon Sports Hall of Fame for her work in growing volleyball amongst other sports

File Photo
A Yukon judge approved dangerous offender status for a man guilty of a string of assaults in 2020.
Yukon judge sentences dangerous offender to indefinite prison term

Herman Peter Thorn, 51, was given the sentence for 2020 assaults, history of violence

Crystal Schick/ Yukon News A former residential school in the Kaska Dena community of Lower Post will be demolished on June 21. Crystal Schick/ Yukon News
Lower Post residential school demolition postponed

On June 21, the old residential school in Lower Post will be demolished and new ground on a multi-cultural centre will be broken

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley announced 29 new COVID-19 cases on June 19 and community transmission among unvaccinated individuals. (Yukon News file)
Yukon logs record-high 29 new COVID-19 cases

F.H. Collins prom attendees and some Porter Creek Grade 9 students are instructed to self-isolate as community transmission sweeps through unvaccinated populations

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before using it on Nov. 24. The Yukon government is reopening the drive-thru option on June 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Drive-up COVID-19 testing opening June 18 in Whitehorse

The drive-up testing will be open from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. everyday and increase testing capacity by 33 spots

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its June 14 meeting

Murray Arsenault sits in the drivers seat of his 1975 Bricklin SV1 in Whitehorse on June 16. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Bringing the 1975 Bricklin north

Murray Arsenault remembers his dad’s Bricklin, while now driving his own

A presumptive COVID case was found at Seabridge Gold’s 3 Aces project. (file photo)
Presumptive COVID-19 case reported at mine in southeast Yukon

A rapid antigen rest found a presumptive COVID case on an incoming individual arriving at the 3Aces project

Jonathan Antoine/Cabin Radio
Flooding in Fort Simpson on May 8.
Fort Simpson asked for military help. Two people showed up.

FORT SIMPSON—Residents of a flooded Northwest Territories village expected a helping hand… Continue reading

A woman was rescued from the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Alaska on June 16. (Photo courtesy/AllTrails)
Alaska hiker chased off trail by bears flags down help

ANCHORAGE (AP)—An Alaska hiker who reported needing help following bear encounters on… Continue reading

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq rises in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Unacceptable’ that Inuk MP felt unsafe in House of Commons, Miller says

OTTAWA—It’s a “sad reflection” on Canada that an Inuk MP feels she’s… Continue reading

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

Most Read