Whitehorse, YT – Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (CAFN) and researchers at Yukon University are working in collaboration to address the effects of climate change thanks to a multi-year research project that will assess the vulnerability of the CAFN Traditional Territory to climate change and permafrost thaw.

Today, the Honourable Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, announced $429,028 in funding for the project through the Climate Change Preparedness in the North Program. He was joined by CAFN Chief Steve Smith, Dr. Lesley Brown, President and Vice-Chancellor, Yukon University, and Dr. Brendan Hanley, Member of Parliament for Yukon, at an event at Yukon’s NorthLight Innovation Centre.

Led by Dr. Fabrice Calmels, Research Chair with YukonU Research Centre’s Permafrost and Geoscience research program, the project will study permafrost occurrence, characteristics, vulnerability to thaw, and the resulting impacts, based on priorities identified by the CAFN government. The Permafrost and Geoscience research program works closely with the community on research-based activities while learning about CAFN values, supporting cross-cultural awareness in research.

Permafrost thaw across the North and Arctic is destabilizing landscapes and infrastructure, affecting the health of lakes, rivers, fish, wildlife and traditional food sources. Data and results from this project will be available online through maps and storyboards to illustrate how the landscape potentially changes as permafrost thaws. This virtual platform will be accessible to community members and decision-makers and will help inform the planning and development of adaptive strategies.

The Government of Canada is investing in Indigenous-led and delivered solutions to help Indigenous and Northern communities adapt to the impacts of climate change in the North. The Climate Change Preparedness in the North Program supports Indigenous and northern communities and governments in increasing their capacity to adapt to climate change effects. Through community-led funding, the program helps build more climate-resilient communities across the North and Arctic.

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“Yukon University is grateful for this funding from Government of Canada so that we can work in partnership with the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations to address the impacts of permafrost thaw on their Traditional Territory. YukonU’s research programs are committed to exploring real-world issues that support our partners to build a more resilient North through our research expertise.” Dr. Lesley Brown, President and Vice-Chancellor
Yukon University

Shadhäla Äshèyi yè Kwädän (Champagne and Aishihik First Nations) is glad to continue this partnership to monitor and learn in places we are observing change in Däkeyí (our country). Our dän (people) are deeply connected to the land and carry a wealth of knowledge over many generations. We are taking an active role in monitoring and adapting to climate change as we are very concerned about its impacts on our country and people. This project is one important way we continue to care for the land, water and animals.” Kaaxnox, Dän Nätthe Äda (Chief Steve Smith)

Quick facts

  • This project received $429,028 in funding from Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada’s Climate Change Preparedness in the North Program (CCPN) and $52,200 in funding from Indigenous Services Canada’s Climate Change and Health Adaptation Program.
  • CCPN works with northern partners to support projects that enhance the capacity of Indigenous and northern communities and governments to adapt to climate change. This includes providing support to assess community climate change factors, such as changing ice conditions, permafrost thaw, coastal erosion or extreme events related to environment and infrastructure.
  • Budget 2016 allocated $21.5 million over five years and Budget 2017 allocated an additional $55.9 million over 11 years to support the assessment of climate change impacts and implementation of adaptation measures in the North.
  • From 2016 to 2021, the program has funded 65 projects in Yukon, for a total of $9,414,512, with new projects being funded in 2022-2023.
  • Budget 2019 committed $26 million for a new campus science building in support of Yukon College’s transition to Yukon University. The transformation of the Yukon College to a hybrid university supports the goals and objectives of the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework, particularly in relation to closing the gaps in education outcomes between Northerners and Canadians south of the 60th parallel.
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