COP21: View from Canada’s Northwest Territories

The Arctic town of Inuvik in Canada's Northwest Territories. (Eilís Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)
The Arctic town of Inuvik in Canada’s Northwest Territories. (Eilís Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)
On the occasion of the United Nations climate change conference in Paris (November 30- December 11), Eye on the Arctic has been speaking with different indigenous leaders from across Canada’s North.

In this interview series we explore how climate change is affecting Canada’s Arctic and whether international conferences like COP21 can actually make a difference in the day-to-day lives of northern Peoples.

 "The emissions being produced are having drastic effects," says Norman Snowshoe. "I think (politicians and media) believe they have a lot of time to deal with this but the impacts are being felt already up North. I don't think there's that crisis management attitude in the south that we really need." (Courtesy Gwich'in Tribal Council.)
“The emissions being produced are having drastic effects,” says Norman Snowshoe. “I think (politicians and media) believe they have a lot of time to deal with this but the impacts are being felt already up North. I don’t think there’s that crisis management attitude in the South that we really need.” (Courtesy Gwich’in Tribal Council.)

In this instalment, Part 3 of our series  (click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2), we turn our attention to Canada’s Northwest Territories.

Norman Snowshoe, the vice-president of the Gwich’in Tribal Council in the Arctic town of Inuvik, says global warming is effecting everything from water levels to traditional hunting and trapping activities in traditional Gwich’in lands.

“We’re having weather unpredictability, and we have a lot of concern about that,” he said in a phone interview from Inuvik. “Normally we’d be pushing -30 (degrees Celsius), but for the last month we’ve been hovering around -10 (degrees Celsius), so that’s quite evident to our elders.

“Normally the Gwich’in people would be out trapping and doing the winter activities that happen this time of year but due to the warm weather and they can’t do it.”

Feature Interview

To find out more about how global warming is affecting traditional Gwich’in lands and why he thinks conferences like COP21 are so important, listen to our full Eye on the Arctic interview with Norman Snowshoe, vice-president of the Gwich’in Tribal Council:

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Q&A – What’s at stake for the Arctic at COP21?, Eye on the Arctic

Finland:  Finland at COP21: ‘Small steps will no longer do’, Yle News

Greenland: Will COP21 turn down heat on Arctic?, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Paris climate talks enter last week, Radio Sweden

Sweden:  Swedish PM underlines importance of COP21, Radio Sweden

United States:  Cleaner atmosphere means more Arctic ice melt: study, Alaska Dispatch News


Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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