Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay biologist learns lessons from indigenous people

A biologist based in Thunder Bay has set out to learn about climate change through the eyes of the world's indigenous people.

Close links to the land lead to valuable climate change observations, says Gleb Raygorodetsky

The Sapara people of Ecuador and the impact of climate change on their lives is being studied by a Thunder Bay biologist. (Gleb Raygorodetsky)

A biologist based in Thunder Bay has set out to learn about climate change through the eyes of the world's indigenous people.

Gleb Raygorodetsky has travelled the world for over 20 years researching traditional knowledge and customs for non-profit agencies and most recently with United Nations University.

The focus of his work over the last two years has been collecting material for a book looking at the impact the shifting climate is having on many of the world's people.

Raygorodetsky said he's passionate about learning from indigenous people because scientific research doesn't always provide the tools needed to understand our changing environment. 

"Indigenous people have a spiritual connection, a direct link to the land, a time horizon we lack in science," he said. 
Thunder Bay biologist Gleb Raygorodetsky is studying climate change through the lives and stories of the world's indigenous people. (Gleb Raygorodetsky)

The research Raygorodetsky is carrying out has taken him far afield to countries like Russia and Ecuador. He's documented the stories of the indigenous people who live there in a book called "Archipelago of Hope," which he hopes to publish.

More time on the land

Raygorodetsky said he received some private funding for the book, but he's now launched a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo, so he can carry out more research. 

"I have some stories that are solid, but I want to go back and dig deeper, to spend more time on the land," he said.

Those stories took him to the homeland of the Altai people in Russia, the boreal landscapes where the Skolt Sami live in Finland and to the rainforest of Ecuador to meet with the Sapara people. Closer to home, Raygorodetsky spent time on the traditional territory of the Ta-o-qui-hat people in British Columbia.
A member of the Tia-o-qui-aht first nations people of British Columbia on their traditional land. (Gleb Raygorodetsky)

"They are still there"

What stood out for Raygorodetsky from his time on the land with indigenous people, was their resilience and their ability to endure so much at the hands of social change.

"They are still there. They have been able to adapt and keep a close link to the land despite all the challenges," he said.

Raygorodetsky expects his book to be published in 2016.