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Youth Training Program to advance land stewardship and conservation

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Kaska Dena Land Guardians from Ross River, Yukon. © Norma Kassi

The Youth Training in Ethical Knowledge Sharing and Co-production to Advance Northern, Indigenous-led Conservation and Stewardship Program will train a generation of Indigenous youth to design and deliver relevant research projects using Indigenous and community-based research methods, as well as ethical approaches to knowledge sharing between Indigenous and Western ways of knowing. Youth will be trained both as guardians and researchers to develop the skills to understand, work and care for the lands and waters within their traditional territories.

Canadian Mountain Network (CMN) Co‐Research Director, Norma Kassi, was awarded a $500,000 2020 Arctic Inspiration Prize (AIP) for the Program. Funding from AIP, together with support from CMN, will bring the total project budget to 1 million dollars, which will allow for up to 30 youth from the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunatsiavut to attend 10‐day training camps in 2022 and 2023. 

During these training camps, youth will work together, live together, and learn traditional knowledge from Indigenous Elders and scientific expertise from researchers directly on the land. Not only will this build resiliency for Indigenous youth but will develop community capacities to understand and respond to environmental change, while contributing to diversifying economies in the North and supporting adaptation and sustainability. 

“Young people are enthusiastic; they want to be on the land,” says Kassi. “They can be there to take care of the species, the animals, the water. The land is healing for them; it’s so important for them to try and make our planet better.” 

Ice fishing in Labrador. © Ashlee Cunsolo

She also voices the urgent need to work together in these challenging times: “We want to engage in research that will be really relevant for us and others living in the same area, that will educate future generations, for the whole community.” 

Indigenous peoples have a unique understanding that could transform our country. Norma Kassi’s project will improve our understanding of changes we are facing in the Arctic across diverse landscapes that are essential to the environmental, economic, social, spiritual, and cultural well‐being of Indigenous Peoples. 

This project is made possible with the contributions and partnerships from the Canadian Mountain Network, Yukon Region Assembly of First Nations, Council of Yukon First Nations, Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning, Gwich’in Tribal Council, Labrador Institute of Memorial University and the Sahtú Renewable Resources Board. 

Norma Kassi, CMN Co-Research Director. © Arthur “Tookie” Mercredi

The Canadian Mountain Network (CMN) is a national not‐for‐profit organization that supports the resilience and health of Canada’s mountain peoples and places through research partnerships based on Indigenous and Western ways of knowing that inform decision‐making and action. CMN is funded through the Networks of Centres of Excellence program and is hosted at the University of Alberta. 

To learn more, see CMN’s website

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