The six-day North Yukon Permafrost Conference was a good opportunity to focus on the impact climate change is having on First Nations culture, says one of the event organizers.
Katie Fraser is a policy advisor with the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Government (THG), one of three First Nations that hosted the six day conference in Dawson with the Canadian Permafrost Association. Along with THG, the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun and Vuntut Gwitchin Government were also First Nation hosts for the Aug. 21 to 26 conference.
Fraser was among the key organizers with THG to coordinate the event.
In an Aug. 29 interview, Fraser said THG Chief Roberta Joseph was happy to welcome the approximately 180 delegates to the First Nation’s traditional territory.
With the Canadian Permafrost Association and three First Nations co-hosting, Fraser said a lot of work went into making sure all voices were reflected in the conference agenda.
A steering committee made up of representatives from the four co-hosts developed a conference schedule that featured presentations, panel discussions and public lectures about climate change along with field excursions to sites like the Dempster Highway, Klondike Gold Fields and Top of the World Highway where the impacts of melting permafrost could be viewed first-hand. Presenters ranged from First Nations speaking to impact on their territories to climate and permafrost experts.
“It was a lot of voices we had to bring together,” she said.
Fraser commented that one of the major points she sees coming out of the conference is the importance of remembering the human element in terms of how climate change is impacting people.
She said it will be a priority for the First Nations to continue working closely together and have more open discussions on how work can be done in partnership to find solutions.
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