We have been enjoying Goldilocks weather in recent days where temperatures have been moderate enough to finally get outside and skiing and sledding tracks have been next to ideal.

Far be it for the Hub to put a damper on those activities by offering another jeremiad about climate change.

With endless bad news from Russian invasions to convoys to opioid deaths, if anyone has a right to a few weekends to escape with winter carnivals and festive moods, it is Hay River residents.

That being said, Polar Pond Hockey is taking place this weekend (March 11 to 13) and will be putting special emphasis on climate change.

And rightly so.

Save Pond Hockey, an international organization started in Finland in 2015, that aims to do as exactly as its title suggests, will be featured during the annual event with professional hockey advocating the issue and Arctic Energy Alliance holding a fair and tour promoting energy efficient ways of living.

As it turns out, due to two other cancellations from Covid, Hay River will be the only town in Canada going ahead with a Save Pond Hockey format event this year largely stemming from the 2019 polar pond hockey tournament being nixed due to unseasonably warm weather.

Thankfully the event will be taking place this year but we should be thinking about how this sport (and other sports) will be impacted by rising global temperatures.

A United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report issued late last month entitled, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, shows that our Northern way of life could change drastically in the coming decades if governments don’t do more to mitigate increasing global temperatures.

In our sub-Arctic region, as per one example, the report states that wild foods and Indigenous diets are expected to be profoundly impacted by excessive heat that will result in disruptions to northern ecosystems.

Declining breeding and worsening migration patterns in traditional game, land-forms changes affecting wild food access with less snowfall and weaker ice formations, are just some of the warnings outlined in the report that hit home particularly for Northerners.

To be sure, Hay River has seen signs of climate change within the last year.

In August, the town saw multiple extreme heat warning days above the 30 C point and saw extensive damage to the area from river flooding last spring. Only last month the municipality tabulated and submitted a $400,000 claim to the GNWT from damage to infrastructure.

While the outlook from rising global temperature and the future of our species does not have an encouraging outlook, we encourage folks to take advantage of the learning elements provided at the pond hockey tournament while taking in the best elements of our annual town festival.

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

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