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Arctic Climate Change Youth Forum (ACCYF)

Every two years, Schools on Board co-hosts a youth forum that coincides with an international science meeting or conference. This one-day event includes interactive presentations and workshops delivered by scientists and researchers introducing secondary high school students and their teachers to Arctic climate change research. In addition to science, the day will also include the northern perspective on climate change as well as political discussions on the role of science and Inuit knowledge in policy and decision-making.

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Arctic Climate Change Youth Forum 2010 Fort Whyte Center

Nunavut, Labrador, Ontario and Manitoba converged on Fort Whyte Center February 5, 2010 to experience a day filled with the music of the Arctic and cutting-edge science research.

Students from Kelvin High School partnered with Schools on Board, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, The Climate Change Connection and FortWhyte Alive to give students and teachers a chance to experience first-hand the research that is done to study the climate change of the Arctic region.

The day started with the Keynote speaker, Dr. David Barber, Canada Research Chair of Arctic System Sciences from the University of Manitoba. Dr. Barber was later joined by all the project leaders in the IPY-CFL study for the press conference where students were the first to hear ground-breaking news about this Canadian Arctic research project — the largest Arctic study conducted during International Polar Year. The group researched through-out the winter on the scientific research icebreaker, the CCGS Amundsen. Pictures were shown about the shrinking ice cover, and the increase in cyclones. Information was given on the changing water and ice habitat and on the perspectives of the Inuit people.

The afternoon Keynote speaker was an Inuit youth, Caitlyn Baikie, from Nunatsiavut, giving Inuit Youth Observations and Perspectives on Climate Change. Last year, Caitlyn joined scientists on the Amundsen during a three-week ‘Schools on Board’ field program in addition to a summer research position in one of the national parks. She was very knowledgeable in both scientific and traditional perspectives. Her passion and respect for the beautiful land they live on was evident in her presentation and voice.

The third Keynote speaker, Vincent Ho, composer from the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra had also spent time aboard the Amundsen and he spoke on the way that music and the arts are effective communication tools to get the scientific message across in a powerful way to society. The powerful symphony he composed on this trip was presented at the Opening Gala of the New Music Festival the next day.

Linking Music and Science was one of the main themes, as is seen in the logo which represented the conference. Students were able to sign up for music sessions as well as science ones. The music sessions included Throat singing and drumming presented by a group of Nunavut Sivuniksavut students. What an amazing experience.

Students were able to attend three workshops during the day. FortWhyte Alive was the perfect setting for the science sessions. Students spent the morning out on the ice learning how to do ice coring, sediment coring, testing snow for mercury, testing water quality, measuring albedo and solar energy, and making weather observations. These sessions were facilitated by grad students from the University of Manitoba who had spent time doing research on an Arctic excursion as well as many of the top climate change scientists from Canada and the U.S. who were answering student questions before their press conference. Other sessions included beluga whale studies, Inuit clothing and tools, Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic with Lieutenant Colonel Mike Gagne, and sessions on igloo and quinsy building and outdoor survival, conducted by members of the 38th Canadian Brigade and 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol group.

In the afternoon, teachers participated in a workshop by Steve Daniel, Department of Education, Culture and Employment, NWT. Steve showed how to engage students in an inquiry and experiential approach which takes into account traditional knowledge and culture. He gave teachers some wonderful resources as well as interactive activities to use in the classroom.

The day ended with a Discussion Café where all the students got in groups and discussed the environmental issues that emerged from the day of activities, and actions that can be taken on an individual level.

The day ran smoothly making evident the careful planning of the Kelvin students, co-chaired by Ameena Bajer-Koulak and Samara Froese together with Lucette Barber from Schools on Board and the many staff from Kelvin, Fort Whyte Alive and Climate Change Connection and the WSO.

This was a day to remember, a day to inspire the future scientists of our country!

Many thanks to NSERC PromoScience, Manitoba Hydro, the Manitoba Federation of Councils, the Winnipeg School Division, Climate Change Connection, and the Assiniboine Credit Union for their support and sponsorship.

Submitted by Donna Labun, teacher Kelvin High School, Winnipeg, Manitoba

2010 ACCYF Student Committee

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