Ɂehdzo Got’ı̨nę Gots’ę́ Nákedı
Sahtú Renewable Resources Board

Climate Change

  • 2008-2016 Review & Impact Assessment Northern Climate Change and Health Adaptation Program

    Sahtú harvesters have increasingly been observing effects of climate change in their traditional territory. How can Sahtú communities maintain their health, well-being and ways of life when the environment is changing? Since 2008, communities in the Sahtú Region have hosted a series of five projects to explore this question, supported by Health Canada’s Program for Climate Change and Health Adaptation in Northern First Nation and Inuit Communities. All of these projects involved knowledge sharing and education, with an emphasis on learning with youth and elders. The community of Délı̨nę has begun to focus on the issue of food security. In order to enhance the benefits of the local and regional projects and learn from experiences across the North, the Ɂehdzo Got’ı̨nę Gotsę́ Nákedı has partnered with Carleton University to conduct a review and impact assessment of Health Canada’s eight year Northern Climate Change and Health Adaptation Program (2008-2016).

    2015-2016 Délı̨nę: Dene Nę́nę́ Gúlú gha Darade - Our Land is Changing

    Délı̨nę is undertaking its second round of inquiry on health and climate change this year with a focus on food security. The community has long relied on caribou harvesting for subsistence, but is faced with news that populations are declining. In partnership with Wilfrid Laurier University, the Délı̨nę Ɂehdzo Got’ı̨nę aims to develop a food security and climate change adaptation plan. The plan will allow for conservation of declining caribou populations while supporting continued reliance on country foods as a central component of their diet and their collective well-being for generations to come.

    Project Team

    2015-2016 Review and Impact Analysis: Health Canada’s Northern Climate Change and Health Adaptation Program

    The five Health and Climate Change Adaptation projects in the Sahtú Region since 2008 represent a wealth of learning about the impacts of climate change on community and environmental health, and ways of addressing these impacts. In order to enhance the benefits of this work regionally, and better learn from similar projects elsewhere in the North, the Ɂehdzo Got’ı̨nę Gotsę́ Nákedı partnered with Carleton University on a review and impact analysis of all the projects sponsored by Health Canada’s Northern Climate Change and Health Adaptation Program. This project will be completed in 2016.

    For more information about projects supported by the Program for Climate Change and Health Adaptation in Northern First Nation and Inuit Communities, check out the Climate Telling website. For more information about Health Canada’s national efforts to prepare for the effects of climate change, click here.

    Project Team

    • Carleton University: Frances Abele, Josh Gladstone, Andrew Muir, Nick Falvo, Jennifer Spence
    • Earthonomical Policy Solutions: Katalin Koller

    2014-2015 Sahtú Youth Network for a Regional Action Plan

    An outgrowth of the series of earlier youth-centred projects in Fort Good Hope, Délı̨nę and Tulı́t'a was a regional youth initiative in partnership with the five local Ɂehdzo Got’ı̨nę to develop specific adaptation strategies and actions. Establishing the Sahtú Youth Network [HYPERLINK] was part of this initiative, supporting development of youth leadership in the region.

    Project Team

    2013-2014 Tulı́t'a: Staying Strong: Youth and Elders Building Healthy Communities

    The Ɂehdzo Got’ı̨nę Gotsę́ Nákedı partnered with the Tulı́t'a Ɂehdzo Got’ı̨nę to involve youth as future leaders in discussions about what can be learned from past experience and research, and what adaptation strategies and actions can be adopted to protect community health from climate change-related impacts.

    The project team looked at what can be learned from experiences at the annual fall hunt at Pıetł’ánejo (Caribou Flats) and the spring hunt at K'áalǫ Túé. Tulı́t’a also hosted a regional youth-elders workshop to learn how these questions might be addressed on a larger scale. To gain insights on climate change issues on a global scale, Tulít’a youths Reanna Campbell and Archie Erigaktuk attended the PowerShift BC climate change gathering in Victoria, BC on October 4-7, 2013.

    Project Team


    2009-2010 Délı̨nę: Gúlú Agot’i T’á Kǝ Gotsúhɂa Gha – Learning About Changes

    The Délı̨nę Knowledge Project sponsored a program in 2009-2010 called Health Risk and Climate Change in Sahtúot’ine Stories: Envisioning Adaptions with Elders and Youth, which explored traditional and contemporary stories about safe travelling on the land, ways of surviving in changing or unpredictable ecological conditions, and ways that young Dene and elders interact to learn strategies for survival and good health on the land – through learning in the community, in the school, and on the land, and using both old ways and new technologies for sharing knowledge.

    In undertaking this area of work, the Délı̨nę Knowledge Project was guided by a larger community vision for Knowledge Centre that would serve as “a gathering of new and old knowledges to benefit everyone and shape the future.” Articles about the Délı̨nę Knowledge project were published in the International Journal of Circumpolar Health Research and Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Health.

    The health and climate change research was enhanced by a number of related activities led by the Délı̨nę Knowledge Project, including a project on language, mapping and governance funded by the Volkswagen Endangered Languages program; a capacity-building project bringing together youth, elders and scientists to understand climate change and its impacts around Great Bear Lake, funded by International Polar Year; and a project focused on aquatic ecosystems and how commercial land uses affect their vulnerability to climate change.

    As a result, the scope of the program expanded, and was structured by the following subprojects involving science-traditional knowledge exchanges, mapping, radio and digital storytelling, language documentation, and on-the-land experiences:

    • Climate History-Monitoring
    • Language of the Land
    • Mapping Our Changing Land
    • Planning for Changing Health
    • Sharing Our Stories
    • Subsistence, Health and Governance

    In 2011, Délı̨nę project team members had an opportunity to participate in the Climate Change and Health Pan-Arctic Results Workshop in Ottawa bringing together people from across the North. In 2012, Délı̨nę team members presented at the International Polar Year From Knowledge to Actionconference in Montreal.

    Project Team

    The research team for this program was extensive, including a balance of community members, technical consultants, and resource people from a variety of disciplines.


    • Walter Bezha, Self-Government Implementation Director
    • Sahtu Renewable Resources Board Chair
    • Morris Neyelle, Délįnę First Nation Council and Délįnę Land Corporation

    Community Researchers

    • Edith Mackeinzo, Délįnę Knowledge Project, Research Coordinator
    • Doris Taneton, Délįnę Knowledge Project, Trainee/Schools Program Coordinator
    • Dolphus Tutcho, Délı̨nę Knowledge Project, Research Assistant
    • Orlena Modeste, Remediation Office, Mapping Project Coordinator
    • Betty Tetso, Prevention and Health Promotion Worker, Dora Gully Health Centre
    • Stanley Ferdinand, Délı̨nę First Nation, Research Assistant for Tiarella Hannah

    Community Consultants

    • Michael Neyelle, Language Specialists/Facilitators
    • Fibbie Tatti, Language Specialists/Facilitators
    • Jane Modeste, Language Specialists/Facilitators
    • Bernice Neyelle, Language Specialists/Facilitators

    Community Coordination

    • Edward Reeves, Délı̨nę Renewable Resources Council

    Resource People

    • Deborah Simmons, Native Studies, University of Manitoba/SENES Consultants, Principal Investigator
    • Trent Waterhouse, Progam Support Teacher (PST), Ɂehtséo Ayha School
    • Ben Postin, Grades 6/7 Class, Ɂehtséo Ayha School
    • Yolanda Poyner, Grades 3/4 Class, Ɂehtséo Ayha School
    • Kevin O’Keefe, High School Science Class, Ɂehtséo Ayha School
    • Anna Stanley, Human Geography, National University of Ireland at Galway
    • Ingeborg Fink, PhD student, Linguistics, University of Cologne
    • John Gyakum, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, McGill University
    • Ken Caine, Rural Economy, University of Alberta
    • Keren Rice, Linguistics and Aboriginal Studies, University of Toronto
    • Micheline Manseau, Landscape Ecology, Natural Resources Institute and Parks Canada
    • Nicole Beaudry, Ethnomusicology, Université du Québec à Montréal
    • Ruthann Gal, Manager, Aurora Research Institute, Fort Smith office
    • Sarah Gordon, PhD student, Folklore, Indiana University
    • Tiarella Hanna, Masters student, Rural Economy, University of Alberta
    • Wendy Flood, Nurse-In-Charge, Dora Gully Health Centre

    Technical Consultants

    • Dawn Ostrem, Dawn Ostrem Communications/Centre for Digital Storytelling (Youth Radio and Digital Storytelling)
    • Mike West, Datalaundry (Language Toolbox)
    • Robert Kershaw, Centre for Digital Storytelling (Digital Storytelling)
    • Ruthann Gal, GIS Specialist/Manager, Aurora Research Institute (Mapping)


    2008-2010 Fort Good Hope: Our Land, Our Life, Our Future

    Fort Good Hope’s project in partnership with Oxford University was entitled Our Land, Our Life, Our Future: Community Health, Climate Change and Community Based Adaptation Solutions toward Wellness. The project involved creating and training a Youth Video Research Crew to conduct video interviews with elders, leaders, harvesters and other youth to document experiences of climate change, health impacts and health adaptations.

    Project Lead

    • Erin Freeland Ballantyne, Oxford University (now working with Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning)
  • 2014-2015 Health and Climate Change

    The Sahtú Renewable Resources Board has partnered with the Tulít’a Ɂehdzo Got’ı̨nę, Chief Albert Wright School, and the Pembina Institute to identify how climate change is affecting people’s health, and what the community of Tulít’a and other communities in the Sahtú can do about it. The project is funded by Health Canada.

    The project is intended to empower the young people of Tulít’a to lead the community in exploring these issues. Youth are being brought together with Elders, harvesters and other knowledge holders, to learn traditional knowledge and stories about dealing with climate, risk and change. Other elders and youth from Délı̨nę, Fort Good Hope, and Norman Wells will be sharing learnings from their own climate change and health adaptation projects, so the region can build some positive momentum towards a healthier and safer Sahtú. Youth will also have the chance to learn from climate scientists, and health practitioners/experts.

    The communities of the Sahtú are experiencing climate change more rapidly and severely than most other parts of the world.  In Tulít’a, climate change impacts people’s health through warmer and more unpredictable weather patterns, by threatening harvesting practices and food security, by making travel out on the land more dangerous, and through risks to cultural health and people's relationship with the land generally.

    Not only will the youth research these issues, they will come up with a strategy and concrete actions for the community to take to protect itself from health risks associated with climate change. The youth will also develop their creative abilities to communicate their proposed strategy to the rest of the community and beyond.

    Project Team


    Health Canada

    Total Budget


  • 2015-2016 Délı̨nę Health and Climate Change

    Climate change and its dramatic impacts in the Sahtú (Great Bear Lake) watershed are well documented. Rising temperatures, variable wind, rain and snow patterns and longer thaw seasons are among the changes being witnessed by Délı̨nęgot’ı̨nę (the people of Délı̨nę, the sole community of about 550 on Sahtú ). Degraded permafrost is resulting in permafrost thaw slumps. In turn, these events are impacting the landscape, water and wildlife in the region. Notably, the barren-ground caribou that Délı̨nęgot’ı̨nę have depended upon for subsistence have declined significantly – to the point where harvesting restrictions are being contemplated. Harvesting is becoming less predictable, and more dangerous or even impossible for periods of time.

    As the ability of Délı̨nęgot’ı̨nę to access traditional food sources decreases, they become more reliant on food purchased from stores, which is expensive and provides less nutritional value. Increasing levels of food insecurity and diet-related health issues such as obesity and diabetes have already been observed. The links between climate change, food security and community health and well-being have become a priority concern.

    “Dene k’ę́ naızé gha” (we have to hunt like our grandfathers did). The community aims to lay the groundwork for developing a food security plan that allows for conservation of declining caribou populations while supporting continued reliance on country foods as a central component of their diet and their collective well-being for generations to come.

    This project builds upon upon earlier community initiatives to understand climate change environmental and health impacts, and approaches to building community adaptation capacity. In particular, the Gúlú Agot’i T’á Kǝ Gotsúhɂa Gha / Learning About Changes program was undertaken in 2009-2011, including elder-youth exchanges as well as dialogue with climate scientists sponsored by Health Canada’s Climate Change and Health Adaptation Program, as well as International Polar Year. The current proposal moves to adaptation planning with a focus on food security and health, which was at the heart of a number of themes that emerged from the earlier program.

    Workshops and community events will be held to establish the research questions at the intersection of climate change and access to country food that are important to the community. The community priorities from these workshops will be the basis for semi-structured interviews and/or focus groups to be conducted with Elders, harvesters, women and youth, as well as food security camps and a regional workshop. This research will help to: 1) understand the role of country foods and the traditional practices in the daily lives of community members; 2) document changes in availability of country foods and threats to food security and 3) identify food security adaptation strategies that have been adopted in the past and possible strategies for the future.

    This project will support community wellness initiatives, and will lead to development of a proposed food security plan for consideration by community leaders. The project will include development of educational materials to build awareness of the project, promote key messages from community discussions, and encourage people to participate.

    Project Team


     Health Canada

    Total Budget


  • 2020-2023 Sustainable Energy & Local Governance Innovation in the NWT

    There is growing acknowledgment that the current energy provision system in the Canadian North is not sustainable, as high and growing energy costs are a common feature across the region. These costs are exacerbated by climate change, which is already contributing to major changes to life in the north, including decreasing animal populations, erosion of the traditional economy, and altering existing transportation systems. Governments can no longer afford the growing energy subsidies, given that public coffers are faced with growing demands on various fronts. Running parallel to this shifting landscape are changing governance structures in the region. As land claims and self-government agreements unfold, they are providing Indigenous Fwith an opportunity for greater autonomy and the consequent ability to influence energy systems management.

    Consequently, there is a growing interest for energy system change in the Canadian North as some communities seek to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. Similarly, there is also greater recognition that innovation must play a role in these transitions. Yet in policy discussions and debates, innovation is often narrowly defined to equate new, state of the art technologies. As a result, alternative innovative activities such as different forms of organizing and governing are frequently overlooked. Because policy levers to support low-carbon energy system transitions tend to also be based on this narrow view of innovation, is it possible that more appropriate policy supports are being neglected?    

    In recognition of this potential policy gap, this research project will explore links between innovation, governance, and energy system change in three communities in Northwest Territories – Tulı́t'a, Colville Lake and Yellowknife. Throughout these communities, concerns over high costs of living, climate change, and energy security are notable factors driving energy system change, whether it be transitioning away from costly and polluting diesel to renewable sources for heat and electricity, or the adoption of energy efficiency initiatives. Therefore, the central aim of the research is to find out if there are better ways to support sustainable energy projects, such as renewable electricity, renewable heat provision, or energy efficiency initiatives at the community level in the North.

    Project Team

    • Alexandra Mallett, Carleton University
    • Micah Ton, Carleton University
    • Jessie Yakeleya, Ɂehdzo Got’ı̨nę Gots’ę́ Nákedı
    • Catarina Owen, Ɂehdzo Got’ı̨nę Gots’ę́ Nákedı
    • Tulı́t'a Community Members


    Social Science and Humanities Research Council