Denendeh, Northwest Territories
Year(s) Funded: 2015-2016
Topic Area: Adaptation Planning
Contact: Rolland Pangowish, Dene Nation (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Partners: Dene Nation, Ecology North, Five Regional Governments: Gwich’n, Sahtu, Tlicho, Dehcho and Akaitcho
Title: Climate Change and Health Effects in Denendeh
Action: The Dene Nation promoted awareness about climate change adaptation and facilitated discussion amongst Dene Nation delegates at the Annual Assembly. The discussion further enhanced the knowledge of Elders, youth and leaders about climate change and helped them develop adaptation strategies. The dialogue gave the Dene of Denendeh a summary of what kinds of alterations climate change will bring to their communities and what they can do to cope with the changes to maintain their lifestyle and culture to the greatest extent possible. The communities expressed an enhanced need to identify research priorities, outline possible emergency response plans and other measures to adapt to the negative effects of climate change, which include but are not limited to changes in seasonal cycles, animal behaviour, landscapes, water systems, infrastructure, transportation systems and traditional foods.
A section of the Annual Report was prepared on climate change; and Ecology North gave the presentation for the Dene Nation Annual Assembly. Following the presentation, a special discussion amongst the Elders was done on the same day. The Elder discussion session was conducted almost exclusively in the Dene languages and provided all those in attendance with a traditional knowledge perspective, in addition to some interesting stories about the changing landscape.
Results: Interestingly, the concern of many Elders with the management of health care in the North carried over into the discussion on climate change, as traditional perspectives on the state of the environment consistently equated the impacts of global warming with the health situation in Dene communities. Whether this was the result of an intentional comparison or simply a reflection of the holistic perspective of traditional culture, the observations of Dene Elders clearly linked climate change with the health of the Dene peoples.