Inuit leaders call for action on climate change

Climate change “poses a serious threat to the survival of Inuit culture”


Inuit leaders say that the stark news in the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment released in Iceland this month presents a golden opportunity for the federal government to act on its promise of a “northern strategy,” and become a global leader in halting climate change.

“The ACIA fills an embarrassing void: Canada does not have a national climate-change assessment,” wrote three Inuit leaders in the Globe and Mail last week.

Sheila Watt-Cloutier, chairwoman of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, Jose Kusugak, president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and Duane Smith, president of ICC Canada, also wrote that Canada now needs to:

Commit to reduce greenhouse gases, beyond what the Kyoto Protocol recommends;
Acknowledge that the Arctic is a “barometer” of climate change;
Help Inuit adapt to the changes in lifestyle;
And develop a “detailed, comprehensive… and imaginative” northern strategy, as promised in the speech from the throne in October.
James Eetoolook, vice president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. also endorsed the report and said that climate change is making “our traditional way of life more dangerous each year,” and putting Inuit communities and traditional food sources “in serious and immediate jeopardy.”

NTI passed a resolution on climate change at its annual general meeting earlier this month that makes a direct link between climate change and the threat to the Inuit traditional lifestyle.

The resolution says that climate change undermines Inuit harvesting rights under the Nunavut land claims agreement and that global warming threatens the Inuit food supply and way of life, and “poses a serious threat to the survival of Inuit culture.”

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