Stewards of our Environment

Arriving at the Kluane Lake Research Station a few days ago, we were immediately exposed to the visible changes of the environment, such as the glaciers, the ecosystem of animals, and the forestry. Today, we were exposed to changes of a different sort, when the ucalgarycares team went to visit the Da Kų Cultural Centre in Haines Junction.

At the Centre, we were given an historical account of Yukon’s cultural and geographical development. The team learned about traditions in trading and hunting, the land-based worldview, and the responsibility of each individual to sustain the community as a whole. As a result, the team was called to reflect on the variations between our cultures and that of the First Nations’: coming from the University of Calgary, our team was quick to notice the different attitude towards community engagement.

For example, the interaction between people is more communal than that of Calgary’s. There is an absence of the “go go go” mentality found in the city, with time being used more openly. People are keen to listen to each other’s stories and to share their own—both historical stories of their ancestors and stories of their daily lives.

It is also important for the community to preserve the environment as they see more pronounced effects of climate change, by virtue of their location. The people of Yukon witness first-hand the declining snow fall, the diminishing glaciers, and the reducing lakes, not to mention the decreasing population of snow hares. Therefore, their lifestyles are informed by sustainability, which keeps in mind the impact their actions have on their surroundings at present and in the future.

These different perspectives have provided awareness of what actions we can take to be stewards of our environment back home, because ultimately whether we are in the Yukon or in a city, our environment is globally shared and we have a collective moral responsibility to take care of our planet. However, in a major city there are challenges in taking sustainable initiatives in the face of limited awareness and support. Despite our efforts to reduce climate change, the ongoing busyness of our daily schedules prevents us from having the time and energy to be proactive. Unfortunately, it is easier to pay lip service to sustainability than to make lasting contributions.

Up until this point in our program, our interaction with the First Nations community had been based on pre-conceived notions (typically from the city). We shouldn’t be ashamed of what we previously believed; instead, this experience should be seen as an opportunity to develop views we never had, and at best provide the courage to amend previously held beliefs.

~Sophia and Jessy

This entry was posted in Indigenous Leadership, Summer Term 2014, Yukon. Bookmark the permalink.

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