Caroline Cochrane, Premier of the Northwest Territories, Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok, and Yukon Premier Sandy Silver, as well as Northern Indigenous Leaders issued the first Pan-Northern Leaders’ Statement on Climate Change.
Calling for support and investment from the federal government, there were seven areas that were addressed as needing more focus.
This includes climate-resilient infrastructure, renewable and alternative secure energy systems, emergency preparedness, Northern research, knowledge and capacity building, supporting health and wellness, preservation of cultural identity and economic opportunities.
“We went through a whole bunch of different issues, relevant to creating conditions for a stronger, more vibrant and resilient north,” Silver said during a conference held in Whitehorse on May 9. “We talked today on Arctic security, climate change, housing, health care, and public safety.”
“I absolutely look forward to bringing our shared voice to meetings with our provincial colleagues, as my colleagues do as well, as we discuss these issues with the nation,” he continued.
The statement issued addressed that “Canada’s North is warming up three to four times faster than the global average,” something that “continues to significantly impact our communities, the natural environment, and the well-being of our residents.”
The first initial step taken was that a request was made for the federal government to do more with regards to federal funding programs (establish, extend, and expand) which will help to provide more opportunities that deal with climate change, focus on clean energy and monitoring across the territories.
Also included was specific and accessible funding for on-the-land programs and community-based harvesting activities.
“We’re all agreeing that flexible, accessible investments are needed to support climate resilient infrastructure,” Silver said in response to one question. “Also renewable, reliant, renewable and alternative security. Both secure energy systems (are) extremely important as well. And also emergency preparedness.”
Northern Leaders’ also called for the federal government to recognize the need for reconciliation through climate change actions by supporting Indigenous-led approaches and the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge.
“Northern residents are profoundly affected by climate change. The statement issued today by Northern Premiers and endorsed by eleven NWT Indigenous leaders and Indigenous leaders from across the North, underscores the need to address the threats that climate change poses to the sustainability of our communities and the health and safety of our residents,” read the statement.
To further the point of the statement above, Cochrane addressed would current flooding issues that are impacting both northern residents in Hay River and Kátł’odeeche First Nation.
“Two communities in the Northwest Territories … are being flooded at this point,” she said. “As of this morning, there was over 250 families that were evacuated from the communities and (I) just wanted to let them all know that my heart is with you.”
“I also want to say that we’ve set up stepped up our regional and our community emergency response organization,” she continued. “They’re there to help you and your communities to help you with evacuation and declutter. This is not the first time flooding has happened in the Northwest Territories, that definitely will not be the last time as well.”