Environmental education gets federal boost in Nunavut
Training program focuses on conservation and climate change
A Nunavut training centre has a bit more money in its budget to train environmental champions in the workplace and in the community.
On July 26, Catherine McKenna, the federal minister of environment and climate change, announced $200,000 will go towards the Ilinniapaa Skills Development Centre, and specifically to its project, Our People, Our Climate.
“This project is looking at what else is happening in the circumpolar Arctic, seeing that yes, climate change is happening, and it is happening to us, but also, what could make a difference to us,” said Helen Roos, the centre’s president and lead instructor.
Through its Iqaluit training centre and online courses, ISDC hosts pre-employment training, such as resume writing and computer skills, and workplace training, like health and safety certification and mental health and wellness training for frontline workers.
Though the centre has offered more technical programs in the environmental sector, like environmental monitoring for mine remediation and contamination, Our People, Our Climate is a different sort of program for Ilinniapaa.
The project aims to educate Nunavummiut on climate change, with a focus on traditional knowledge and Inuit culture, as it supports healthy attitudes towards the environment.
The idea is to look not only at how Inuit are being impacted by climate change, but also how they are impacting it, taking energy consumption and conservation into account.
“Through the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Education, there is a curriculum around climate change,” Roos said.
“But my company, we do training and development for youth and adults, particularly who might have dropped out of school, and we look to deliver customized training around issues affecting Inuit.”
And climate change is, of course, one of those issues.
Our People, Our Climate will include a sort of pre-employment training for participants between the ages of 15 and 30.
The program offers five modules on climate change and environmental action, that will equip participants to work with some of the stakeholders in the project, including the territorial and federal government, different Inuit organizations and housing corporations, in environmental roles.
The program is in English and Inuktitut.
“They can become champions, really,” Roos said of the participants. “They’re leaders not just in helping to do in-house environment change but as advocates for the community.”
The curriculum for this project is in the works, based on research from across the circumpolar Arctic and input from those organizations working with the centre, as well as Inuit leaders.
“The funding is going towards research, stakeholder engagement, curriculum development,” said Roos. “Then testing it with multiple youth through the program.”
She’s hoping to have that testing underway by November, and the youth doing outreach to their communities, or possibly co-op placements, by early next year.
The federal dollars will be portioned out from the ministry’s Climate Action Fund, which supports projects fostering an awareness of climate change and working toward sustainable solutions for the environment.
Roos noted that youth make up half of the territory’s population and will ultimately be the ones to carry forward an understanding of the risks of climate change, and the need to curb it. They will also be the ones most affected by it down the road.
McKenna stated in the release, “I’m especially happy to know this program will reach students and young people. Across the country, young people are standing up, asking leaders to take climate action. It’s their future we’re fighting for. We are only borrowing the planet from them.”
While youth are a focus of the program, it will work with people across the board to address areas where education is needed around the environment and conservation.