Yukon Indigenous scientist to share climate change insights with embassies in Europe

Jocelyn Joe-Strack is leaving this weekend on a four week speaking tour in Spain, Sweden, Germany and France.

Champagne and Aishihik First Nation citizen Jocelyn Joe-Strack will speak in Spain, Sweden, Germany and France

Jocelyn Joe-Strack was born and raised in Whitehorse. (Alistair Maitland Photography)

When a Canadian diplomat in Germany messaged Jocelyn Joe-Strack on social media to see if she wanted to give a speech about climate change to diplomats and academics in Europe, she wasn't sure if the offer was serious. 

It was — the diplomat had heard about Joe-Strack at an Arctic conference. Then, more invitations rolled in. And now, Joe-Strack, a scientist and Champagne First Nations citizen, is going on a four-week speaking tour of embassies in Madrid, Stockholm, Berlin and Paris.

"The world is looking to indigenous people for guidance on how to tackle climate change," said Joe-Strack,  a Jane Glassco Northern Fellow and PhD candidate in Indigenous land use planning. She said at the same time, it's recognized that the North is experiencing some of the biggest impacts of climate change.

Joe-Strack thinks society's way of tackling climate change needs a re-think.

"In our current approach to climate change we're making assumptions by trying to confront only a few factors," she explained. 

Joe-Strack said climate change is looked at differently from the Indigenous perspective.

"Our approach is to take care of the land as a whole." 

Health of land, people connected

She said there needs to be a bigger emphasis on shifting our lifestyles away from actions that inflict harm on the earth.

"I think that we can achieve this by focusing on human wellness and that's the First Nations way," Joe-Strack explained.

"It's about ensuring our people are healthy and well and we do that by connecting to our culture our language and our land." 

Joe-Strack's first speaking engagement is on Feb. 11 in Spain.

She said in addition to sharing her own perspectives on climate change, she hopes to learn how other cultures are approaching the issue. 

"I intend to share my understanding as a scientist, cultural scholar and mother to hear from other cultures and thinkers."

With files from Paul Tukker