FutureXChange delegates participated in team building activities during the convening in Inuvik

Earlier this month, 15 youth from across Canada gathered in Inuvik, Northwest Territories as part of the FutureXChange Program, designed to connect and equip them to collaborate on new community projects to help adapt to a rapidly changing climate.

"Everything the Gwich’in people do, is accomplished with one foundational premise, that we all have a duty to our children, and children yet to come, and to our mother lands, to ensure the prosperity of all, for all time,” said Brandon Kyikavichik, heritage interpreter. 

The program was launched in the fall and is one of the first of its kind in Canada. It was created in partnership with the Gwich’in Tribal Council, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, and the global non-profit, Youth Climate Lab.

“FutureXChange grounded the importance of traditional knowledge in climate action and climate policy. Doing the convening in Inuvik, with Gwich’in elders and partners, really proved that,” said Dominique Souris, Co-founder and Executive Director of Youth Climate Lab.

Of the youth delegates, half were selected from the northern Gwich'in communities and the others from the southern provinces. The program kicked off with a Traditional Knowledge gathering for Northern participants, with several weeks of online policy training offered to all participants, which helped prepare them for the facilitated workshops and activities at the convening. Delegates have dispersed back across the country as the role of “community activators” and will share what they’ve learned through community events organized in their hometowns.

This program is important because it emphasizes the role of traditional knowledge and Indigenous voices in the climate change conversation here in Canada. Although Indigenous communities have been on the frontline of the fight to protect the earth for many years, their voices are often left out or ignored.

Indigenous communities and people of colour are disproportionately affected by changes to the climate. According to a 2019 report published in IOP Science, the Arctic is warming up to 2.4 times faster than the Northern Hemisphere average. This has triggered an avalanche of devastating effects that are taking place right before the eyes of those living in northern communities. 

Only two hours north of Inuvik, the 950 residents of the Inuvialuit community of Tuktoyaktuk, will be some of the first people in the country forced to relocate in the next few years as the rising sea threatens to inundate their coastal homes.

The FutureXChange Program was created in an effort to shift the conversation around climate change in Canada to include traditional knowledge and ideas. With the 25th annual Conference of the Parties (COP25) happening this December in Spain, Souris said there is a need for a program like FutureXChange at the international level. 

“[FutureXChange] provides the opportunity for young people to connect, share and collaborate from different perspectives, and that’s what we need for more ambitious action,” said Souris. 

“Doing this at the international level could ensure that policy is created in partnership and leads with the voices of Indigenous people and youth from around the world.”

 

 

 

Jackie Bastianon is a graduate of Carleton University’s School of Journalism with bylines in Capital Current, CBC All in a Day and the Windsor Star. She’s always been passionate about environmental issues, and currently works as the Communications Director at Youth Climate Lab and as the Co-Founder/Executive Director of PlantEd Project.

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