Yellowknifers join Catherine McKenna to talk climate change

Over 100 Yellowknifers accepted the invitation Monday to join the federal environment minister to give input into a national climate change strategy that will be presented this fall.

Over 100 gather in Somba K'e park to give input on national climate change strategy

Yellowknife's Somba K'e park provided the setting for an evening gathering about climate change with Canada's first minister of climate change. (Richard Gleeson/CBC)

People in Yellowknife offered dozens of suggestions for the federal government to consider as it drafts its strategy to address climate change, expected to be presented later this fall. 

About 120 people showed up for a "town hall" held in what federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna called the best setting she's had so far in the series of gatherings being held across the country.

The event was held outside, at Sombe K'e civic plaza, overlooking Frame Lake.

"No one is feeling the impact of climate change more than Indigenous people in Canada," said McKenna, noting that the North's climate is warming at double the rate of the climate in the rest of the world.

Statistics show that oil and gas development is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than any other industry, the minister said, followed closely by the transportation industry.

Participants broke out into small groups, then presented what they came up with, which ranged from weaning the North off diesel fuel within the next 20 years to creating incentives to foster the development of a green energy industry.

Courtney Howard takes notes for a group brainstorming climate solutions. (Richard Gleeson/CBC)

'Really exciting'

It was 13-year-old Linnea Azzolini's first environmental gathering.

"I'm a huge environmentalist, and I have a dream of doing hands-on work for the environment when I grow up. This is the first actual thing I've been to, but it's really exciting."

One group said the federal government needs to stop signing international trade deals, such as the one just signed with the Ukraine, that give corporations the legal right to exploit resources such as water.

More than one group said part of the solution is educating consumers and giving them more information about the environmental impacts of the products they buy.

"We need a new national transportation vision and strategy that's based on electrifying, and lighter-than-air [balloons or airships] and any models of transportation that don't burn fossil fuels," said Suzette Montreuil, summarizing one of the solutions her group came up with to reduce emissions.

Most of those gathered were optimistic about the process. But one man, walking away as another group was presenting its suggestions, called back, "We'll all be living in caves again."

It didn't seem to have much effect on Azzolini's enthusiasm.

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