Northern Adaptation Guides

Adaptation guides for communities and individuals across the north. Available in English, French, Inuktitut (South Baffin dialect), and Inuinnaqtun.

Support for this work was provided by Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, the Standards Council of Canada, the Canadian Standards Association, and the Government of Nunavut.

Preventing Permafrost Degradation

Managing Changing Snow Loads

Improving Community Drainage

Understanding Thermosyphon Foundation Systems

Waste Reduction Week

Every October, Ecology North, in partnership with GNWT Environment and Natural Resources, hosts a number of events in recognition of National Waste Reduction Week.  Past events have included film screenings, DIYs, Fix-it-Fairs, and panel discussions on waste reduction.  

Fall Harvest Fair

The Fall Harvest Fair is typically held in September. It is a fun, family friendly event for Yellowknife, Dettah, and Ndilo residents to get outside, enjoy good food, have fun, and build on our historic connection with the land. The goal of Fall Harvest Fair is more than just a celebration of food, but also a celebration of culture and way to bring together YK Dene and other Yellowknifers.

Some of the events held during Fall Harvest Fair have included:

  • Petting zoo of local farm animals
  • Workshop on canning
  • Workshop/tour on traditional aboriginal fish smoking
  • Tour of the N’dilo gardens and storytelling tent
  • Workshop on medicinal and food plants
  • Kids games
  • Horse rides
  • Potluck dinner
  • Competitions for the best veggies, jams, pies, bouquets, and fish
  • Fiddle, drum, and square dances
  • Displays

From 2010-2014, the Fair was hosted in Yellowknife at Northern United Place. Starting in 2014, Ecology North has partnered with Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN), the Yellowknife Community Garden Collective (YCGC), and various other partners to coordinate Fall Harvest Fair in Ndilo or at the Wiiliideh site.

Young Leaders’ Summit on Northern Climate Change

This summit provided an opportunity for participants to enhance their knowledge of climate change and its impacts through on-the-land learning. Topics discussed in previous summits include: forest fires, permafrost, culture, community, wildlife, politics, water, adapting to climate change, communicating climate change, and food security.


Declaration of the 2017 Young Leaders’ Summit on Northern Climate Change

From August 16th – 22nd, 2017, 11 youth participants from the three northern territories came together in Whitehorse, Yukon, for the 2017 Young Leaders’ Summit on Northern Climate Change. During this week, we learned from each other, community members, and local organizations about the land and the effect that climate change is having on it, as well as ways that the communities are adapting to these changes.

We have learned that the struggles the north is facing with the changing climate are complex and far reaching. In addition to the environmental impacts, these changes affect modern and traditional ways of life, mental and physical health, as well as socioeconomic wellbeing. We have learned that as young leaders we have power to incite change. This declaration has been developed to be accessible to all, to encourage individuals to take up positive lifestyle changes, and to motivate youth to become leaders in their community.
As northern climate leaders, we commit to:

Networking

  • Maintaining and growing the pan-territorial network created through these Summits,
  • Continuing to foster resource and knowledge sharing,
  • Sharing our experiences, observations, and research,

Actively Making Changes in Our Lifestyles

  • Working towards resource sustainability, conscious consumption, and reducing our carbon footprints,
  • Supporting initiatives and organizations that address climate change,
  • Expanding our knowledge of climate change,
  • Pursuing an understanding of government relations and policy, and ways to go about effecting meaningful change,

Fostering Communication and Action

  • Effecting and encouraging change in our peers,
  • Organizing and leading environmental initiatives within our communities and social circles,
  • Creating dialogue on the topic of climate change.

We call on all levels of government, community organizations and self-governing First Nations to:

  • Develop and implement strong climate change adaptation and action plans,
  • Support organizations and initiatives that advocate sustainable resource usage and climate education,
  • Embrace the implementation of policies which work to reduce negative human impact, through legislations such as the carbon tax.

The unique situation of the north calls for innovation within the areas of:

Industry

  • To be proactive leaders within the environmental field, developing strong climate protocols before policy requires it and
  • To reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by initiating energy reduction projects and converting to renewable energy sources.

Research

  • To recognize that the scientific method is not the only way to collect data and understand the land,
  • To fill information gaps that address the needs and concerns of northern communities, and
  • To respect local culture and to disseminate results to communities involved.

We are making this declaration because future generations depend upon our collective action to preserve our way of life and the natural beauty of the North. We urge all individuals to respect the implications of climate change.

We achieve this by recognizing the inherent value of these Indigenous lands and through furthering our education on traditional knowledge and current research.

We commit to make change.


This summit was open to youth ages 18 to 30 from the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.
We looked for youth who show leadership potential, and a strong interest in climate change and the environment.

Applicants applied for the 2017 Summit by:

1) Submitting a one-page essay expressing why you are interested in attending, and;
2) Submitting a reference letter from a respected member of your community.

Essay topics can include, but are not limited to:

  • Why you are interested in learning about climate change
  • Why you are interested in Northern issues
  • Your desire to take action on climate change
  • Your prior experience (personal, educational, professional) with climate change
  • Why the topics discussed in this summit are relevant to your current work or education
  • How climate change has affected your life in the North
  • How you will benefit from attending the summit

Applications were due Thursday, July 20th, 2017.Find out more information about previous summits here: http://www.climateleaders.ca/


Young Leader’s Summit on Northern Climate Change 2015

In the Summer of 2015, we invited 10 youths from across the three northern territories to Yellowknife, where we promptly took them down the highway to Hay River. Along the way they met elders, scientists, government leaders, were tasked with challenges. The youth camped along the way, cooked and cleaned and had a variety of visitors.

It proved an incredible journey, and the youth made great friends, learned a great deal about climate change and how it is impacting people, communities, and the the natural environment.

You can read the CBC story on the Young Leaders’ Summit here.

You can download the Final Report on the summit here.

Rivers to Oceans Day

Rivers to Oceans Day is an annual education blitz on all things rivers to oceans. It is hosted outdoors (rain or shine!), at the Somba K’e Civic Plaza in Yellowknife, during the second week of June.

Up to 24 stations, hosted by various government departments, municipalities, universities, non-profits, and other organizations, are set up around the plaza. Stations host different activities which cover a range of topics, including fish dissection, water safety races, and water quality testing experiments. Students in grade 1 and 5 from across Yellowknife and nearby communities are invited to take part in this day of fun and learning.

Rivers to Oceans Day is hosted in partnership with the GNWT’s department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Read our article in Above&Beyond: Rivers to Oceans Day, Connecting humans, the land, and aquatic ecosystems

Check back soon for more photos!

Bats in the Dehcho

In February 2019, Ecology North staff, Emma Ambury and Katharine Thomas, visited schools throughout the Dehcho to run workshops about bats. In total, six schools and six communities were visited, the communities were: Fort Providence, Kakisa, Sambaa K’e, Fort Liard, Nahanni Butte, and Jean Marie River.

The overall goal of the workshops was to foster appreciation and encourage stewardship of bats in the Northwest Territories.  The workshops included multiple games and activities intended to teach students about the following topics: how bats are unique and interesting animals, how bats are similar to humans, what role bats play in their ecosystems, why bats are being threatened (particularly by white nose syndrome), and what people can do to protect bats in the Northwest Territories.

Students at each school also helped to build and decorate a bat box, a summer roosting spot for the little brown myotis. These finished bat boxes were left with the communities and are now used as bat monitoring sites by Environment and Natural Resources (ENR).

Funding for this project was provided by ENR.

Summer of Smoke

Background

Ecology North worked with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, the hamlet of Kakisa, and representatives from the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) to study the physical and mental health impacts of 2014’s extreme forest fire season and the related costs to the healthcare system. Climate change is creating conditions in the North and across Canada that will make extreme forest fire seasons more common. Drier winters with less snowfall, low water levels, and warmer summers with more lightning storms all contribute to an elevated risk of forest fires during the summer months.

The health risks associated with climate change are many and varied, and the concurrent costs may be more than our system can handle. With the completion of this project we hope to show that climate change is impacting the health system and all of us. The summer of 2014, and the incredible smoke that blanketed the NWT, impacted people in many ways. Vulnerable populations had their physical health impacted by the smoke, but what was most captivating about the results of this project were the emotional and stress related affects throughout the population.

Ecology North and CAPE managed this mixed-method study researching the impacts on the health system, while at the same time asking ordinary NWT residents from four communities to make videos of their experiences in the Summer of 2014. The results show the wide impact that the forest fires had on the population.

The infographic below shows a narration of the Summer of Smoke against the Yellowknife air quality records of the season.

Ecology North was also interested in how Yellowknife’s air quality during the Summer of Smoke compared to the notoriously bad air quality in Beijing, China. Check out the results below.

Summer of Smoke – Interdisciplinary Mixed-Methods Research Project

January 23, 2016 marked the first public showcase of preliminary results from the Summer of Smoke interdisciplinary mixed methods research project. We were incredibly lucky to have such a wealth of knowledge, experience, and initiative on the speaker’s panel. Much thanks goes out to Dr. Patrick Scott; Fred Sangris, former Chief of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation; Jessie MacKenzie, Climate Change and our Lands in Film research coordinator; Dr. Courtney Howard of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment; and Dr. James Orbinski of the Balsillie School of International Affairs.

This project is made possible with funding from Health Canada.

Yellowknife Sustainable Event Checklist

Are you a event coordinator, volunteer, event sponsor, or just a concerned citizen? Learn how you can help reduce the impact of public events, and what you should be expecting from events in Yellowknife.

This Sustainable Event Guide was designed for the City of Yellowknife to help make planning an environmentally-friendly event simple and straightforward to do; just follow the simple checklist for guidance on waste reduction and diversion, energy consumption, transportation and provision of NWT water.

Use this guide for all sorts of events! Private and public events, meetings, festivals, parades, races, and public assemblies!

Click the Link below to open the guide:

Yellowknife Sustainable Event Guide

Composting in Remote Northern Camps

Waste management can be a challenge for operators at remote northern camps. Transporting waste off site is expensive and often not feasible, especially in the NWT. Methods for waste management at these sites typically involve landfilling or incineration of mixed waste.

This project was completed for Environment and Climate Change Canada with the goal of producing a guide to composting at remote sites. Diverting waste from the landfill has many benefits including:

  • reducing wildlife interactions,
  • increasing worker safety,
  • reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and
  • reducing environmental impact of waste management at remote sites.

This is a resource for camp managers to understand and explore the options for composting at remote worksites in Northern Canada.

Click below to open the resource:

Composting in Remote Northern Camps

Northern Soil Recipes

The Northern Soil Recipes project is a effort to find an alternative to importing soil into the NWT. Importing large quantities of soil for gardening can be expensive and inefficient. Building on the existing soil in a way that promotes soil fertility and soil life can allow us to grow food that is truly local, reducing dependencies on outside resources.

Four recipes were made to loosely work for different regions of the NWT, each starting from different base soil and available local soil additive resources. The recipes can be followed strictly or simply used as guides, many different materials can be incorporated.

The recipes can be viewed and downloaded below. Physical recipe cards can be picked up at the Ecology North office in Yellowknife, or mailed to you (for free) by contacting admin@ecologynorth.ca


For a helpful addition to the recipe cards, read our Soil Recipes booklet In it you’ll find specific instructions for putting together healthy garden soil using local materials, no matter where you are in the NWT.