WATCH: Inuit resilience and solutions to climate change in Arctic ecosystems at COP26

WWF-Canada had the honour of hosting the Inuit Circumpolar Council panel “Inuit resilience and solutions to climate change in Arctic ecosystems” at our on-site “Panda Pavilion” during COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland earlier this month.

Exploring how Inuit culture and values can shape successful climate adaptation in a region warming at three times the global average, the event featured stories from Inuit climate leaders from across the Arctic.

Jimmy Oleekatalik, manager of Spence Bay HTA, standing between WWF-Canada’s Sr. VP and CCO Mary MacDonald and Sr. Arctic specialist Brandon Laforest at the COP26 Panda Pavilion in Glasgow © WWF-Canada

One of those panelists was Jimmy Oleekatalik, manager of the Spence Bay Hunters and Trappers Association in Taloyoak, a Nunavut community of about 1,100.

You may remember Jimmy from a previous blog that he wrote about their $451,000 Arctic Inspiration Prize-winning food sovereignty project, Niqihaqut.


Other speakers included Dr. Dalee Sambo Dorough (International Chair, Inuit Circumpolar Council), Brian Pottle (President, Canadian National Inuit Youth Counci), Adelaine Ahmasuk (Emerging Leader, Inuit Circumpolar Council Alaska) and Dr. Victoria Qutuuq Buschma (Conservation Research Fellow, Greenland Institute of Natural Resources).

Jimmy’s arrival at the annual UN climate change conference — which was also his very first trip outside of Canada — was ironically delayed by climate change.

(Unseasonably warm weather kept the Taloyoak airport fogged under for several days at the tail-end of Nunavut’s warmest October on record.)

But we were able to pre-record Jimmy’s remarks in our Toronto office. He spoke about how Elders in his community have been working to protect this region for decades and the role that Niqihaqut’s new model of food sovereignty, anchored in conservation and climate adaptation, will play in helping to establish the proposed 86,000 square kilometre Aviqtuuq Inuit Protected and Conserved Area (IPCA).

And once Jimmy made it to COP, he was able to participate in a number of sessions and events, including meeting with Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s new minister of the environment and climate change to talk about the need to protect Aviqtuuq.

Jimmy also got to sit down with the environment ministers for Scotland and Greenland, sharing his community’s vision for a conservation economy anchored in the protection of Aviqtuuq.

Jimmy Oleekatalik sitting down with newly appointed Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault. © Brandon LaForest

One highlight of his attendance was his participation in Inuit Day at COP, a celebration of Inuit culture and perspectives on climate change hosted by the Inuit Circumpolar Council.

Throughout the day, Jimmy participated in panels, interacted with guests and even performed a traditional Inuit drum dance.

Jimmy returned home from COP full of pride from all of the wonderful recognition for the Aviqtuuq project from climate leaders around the world.

WWF was proud to help bring ensure Jimmy’s voice would be heard representing his community on the world stage, and we will continue to support Jimmy and the rest of his team working towards Aviqtuuq IPCA.

You can read even more about Jimmy’s adventures at COP26 in the interview he gave to the Nunatsiaq News.