Sila Alangotok: Inuit Observations on Climate Change Slidedeck


Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Article and Video Questions

Video and Task


  • Elders chose their words carefully and they share their knowledge with intent to teach and enrich the lives of those around them.
  • You need to be attentive and allow the wisdom they have to impart to be done in their own time.
  • Closed captions may help support you to hear all of their words.

Task: Sila Alangotok – A Community Experiencing Climate Change

Climate influences where we live, our growth, and our well-being. Each species of plant and animal has adapted to live within a specific climatic niche. Humans have adapted and expanded into more climatic niches than most other species have. Throughout history, human adaptability has been evident in customs, shelter, clothing, food preferences, agricultural practices, transportation, and settlement patterns. It is also reflected in industrial strategies, recreation, and economic policies. This is why the potential climate change due to global warming is a source of concern for all Canadians.

We are a land of seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter flowing in a natural rhythm. The weather of our seasons can vary dramatically from region to region. The unpredictability of our weather brings its share of searing droughts, blinding blizzards, crop-killing frosts and hail, and the destructive wrath of tornadoes and avalanches. (Environment Canada, 1995, 11)

The Impact of Climate Change on the Arctic

Rapid climate change has the potential to influence climates directly all around the world, with disturbing and immeasurable environmental consequences. This is particularly true for plants and animals that do not have the ability to adapt to sudden climate changes. One problem Canadians may have to face is land instability in the North due to the decay of the permafrost layer. Other problems may include the loss of some favourite winter sports, increased disease, pest infestations, urban smog, and summer heat stress. Shifts in global wind and rainfall patterns could affect the timing and frequency of extreme events such as droughts, forest fires, and intense storms. Lower lake levels and changes to river flow could also affect water quality. In the end, it is the unprecedented rate of change and the uncertainties associated with a new climate that make adaptation a challenge.

The “frozen North” will be less frozen as winter temperatures may rise as much as 10°C in northern latitudes. The season for heavy pack ice will be shortened and the ice will be thinner, leading to earlier spring break-up. These changes could cause problems for Aboriginal Canadians dependent on subsistence hunting as wildlife reacts to altered migration routes and habitat. In the eastern Arctic, increased glacial flow off the land will likely result in more icebergs. Reduced sea ice cover may cause problems for marine mammals, including seals, walruses, and polar bears. Fish that are dependent on ice cover and cold water would also be affected. The Arctic region is a key regulator of global climate, and reduction in sea ice and snow extent will affect not only Arctic regions, but also global climate.

Minds On…

“Aboriginal people’s traditional knowledge of the local environment is of great value to scientists today.”

Do you Agree or Disagree with this statement?

  • Make a list of ideas and decide

Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Reading

Read and highlight the article as you go… “Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge and Environmental Management”.

Do a 3, 2, 1 on the article

  • 3 things I learned,
  • 2 things that interest me and why,
  • 1 thing I still have a question about.

Examining the Environmental, Economic, and Social Consequences of Climate Change in the North – Mindmap

Climate change is not only an environmental issue—it also has economic and social implications. Social factors include physical, psychological, spiritual, and social health. In this learning activity you will explore possible social, economic, and environmental consequences of climate change on the  community members of Sachs Harbour.

Opening Questions:

  • Based on your knowledge of the factors that contribute to climate, how do you think climate change will affect northern Canada?
  • How do you think climate change will affect the animal populations in northern Canada?
  1. Watch the video Sila Alangotok—Inuit Observations on Climate Change. Use the first column in the table below to identify observations that Elders and community members of Sachs Harbour make related to the impacts of climate change.
  2. Research… a potential starting source may be the “Executive Summary” from Responding to Global Climate Change in Canada’s Arctic (Maxwell, 1997, xiv–xvii). This Environment Canada report discusses several possible impacts of climate change suggested by Western scientists.

Potential Research Organizer

Please feel free to organize your information from your research in a table that might look like the two below.  Keep track of your references as you will need to submit them in APA format.

Video – Community Info Report – Scientists’ Info
Traditional Knowledge and Observation Direct Impact Indirect Impact

or something like this…

Environmental Impacts Social Impacts Economic Impacts


  1. Create a mindmap that will demonstrate the inter-connectiveness of the impacts and issues. How are they connected and related to the issue of climate change?  How are they deeply rooted in Northern Canadian communities?

This mindmap should include visuals and explanations.  You may do this by hand on 11×17 paper or digitally in apps like Piktochart, Venngage, Miro or any other that you like.  Publisher, a Microsoft program can also do this.

Reflection on Learning

Please take a moment to reflect on this learning.  Complete the following questions

  1. How did the observations of the community members in Sachs Harbour enhance the research team’s understanding of climate change?
  2. What do you think the next steps are in battling this issue – why do you think this is a key issue to start with? What is something we can do locally to support?
  3. Brainstorm two other situations where it would be important to gather information from both scientists and local community members (e.g., To see the impacts of…)