Inuk teen Andrea Brazeau schools Manitoba students on climate change
Arctic Climate Change Youth Forum brings voices from across Canada to Elmwood High School
More than 150 students from 32 Manitoba schools met in Elmwood Monday to learn about arctic science and hear firsthand accounts of how climate change is affecting people who live in Canada's north.
The Arctic Climate Change Youth Forum brings in scientists and researchers to speak to high school students, but this year, students will also hear from 19-year-old Andrea Brazeau.
Brazeau is from Nunavik, in Quebec's far north.
"I think when people think about climate change, right away they think about how ice bergs are melting or the animals – how polar bears are affected, but I want them to understand that the people are being affected as well," said Brazeau.
The teen grew up in Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik, and said even in her life she's seen massive changes in the way Inuit people are living.
"Migration patterns are changing therefore hunters are getting less animals, and it's affecting what we eat because we're eating less country food and we have to buy overpriced, less healthy foods at the grocery store," said Brazeau. "Our ways have changed so fast. For example, my grandmother was born in a tent and now I'm attending school down south in Montreal. The changes are so fast. Everything's changing."
The full-day forum is put on by ArcticNet's Schools on Board program, which is co-ordinated by Michelle Watts at the University of Manitoba.
"It's really important that youth hear from other youth," said Watts. "What I want them to take away is an awareness of the arctic ecosystem … and the changes that are going on there and how significant they are and that there's a human impact to that as well."
Watts got in touch with Brazeau after hearing she was going to be in Winnipeg to co-host the Arctic Inspiration Prize with Clara Hughes on Thursday.
Hughes is a friend of Brazeau and asked her to come to the city to help her host.
Brazeau recently moved to Montreal to study at John Abbott College and said she remains passionate about informing people, especially her peers, about life in Canada's north.
"As an Inuk person, my people are important to me and how they're being affected is important to me and that's what I want to share," said Brazeau. "I really do care about my culture and I'm proud to be Inuk and I'm proud of where my people are now."