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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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2012 Arctic Climate Change Youth Forum - Lower Canada College, Montreal, QC

In 2012 Lower Canada College was given the unique opportunity to host a conference on one of the most crucial issues of our time - Arctic climate change. The International Polar Year (IPY) Conference was being held in Montreal in April and was attracting approximately 3,000 scientists to the city. We were asked to host the Youth Conference that is held in conjunction with the IPY. As such we had the opportunity to work in collaboration with the University of Manitoba, McGill University, the Centre for Earth Observation, ArcticNet Inc. and Schools on Board and attract the foremost scientists, environmentalists and political thinkers on climate change in the Arctic. They presented to over 200 student delegates to help raise awareness of the full magnitude of what is happening in our polar regions, and the environmental, cultural and political implications of these changes for our future. Collaborating with so many partners was an important learning experience for our student leaders. While they had less input this year into the overall theme of the conference, they had more choice in conference presenters and had to adjust the usual structure of the conference to adapt to the unique objectives of our partners. This meant that our committee members, including our Co-chairs Kevin Fraser and Hélène Osterman, had to engage in a great deal of critical thinking and problem solving. In the end they did a fantastic job organizing the conference and ensuring that it came off with as few glitches as possible.


Lower Canada College student planning committee

Students were exposed to an amazing array of speakers during the day of the conference. Our day started out with an opening assembly attended by the 220 delegates, plus all of the members of our senior school. The opening keynote address was given by Dr. David Barber, Canada's Research Chair in Arctic System Science, and head of a team of 200 international researchers in examining how global warming in the Arctic predicts the effects of climate change on our planet. He set the tone for the conference by giving a logical overview of the science of arctic climate change and the impact on the environment.

We then held a variety of small seminar presentations where delegates were allowed to choose between topics as diverse as the health and social issues of climate change to the issue of arctic sovereignty. We had 30 presenters come to the school to lead the seminar sessions. Prior to our lunch break we had the second keynote address by Sheila Watt-Cloutier (photo on right), Inuit activist, former chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference and nominee for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. She delivered an impassioned speech on the impact of arctic climate change on the indigenous populations of the arctic. We ended the day with a dynamic Town Hall in which we had representatives from four major national political parties and two representatives from the arctic discuss policy issues stemming from this topic.

We really hope that this year's conference can be a stepping-stone for further partnerships in years to come. Our goal would be to align the conference with universities and foundations interested in important issues such as climate change, the global economy and Quebec's potential role in addressing such issues. In this way we can augment the experience for our students, but also broaden the impact of the conference to include more delegates from local, regional, national and even international schools. It is only through open, informed dialogue that we can hope to give our young people the tools to be future problem solvers and visionaries.


Co-chairs Kevin Fraser and Hélène Osterman, Dr. David Barber, workshop, student participant addressing the political panel

I would like to thank all of the student committee members, plus the faculty that supported the conference this year. Marguerite Comley (Head of the Science Department), Emmanuel Soret (Modern Languages Department), and Maureen Webster (Social Sciences Department) all helped to organize the conference, but also helped to integrate the issues of Arctic climate change into their respective curriculums. All and all the conference was a huge success and a real tribute to team work.

Respectfully submitted,
Patrick Peotto
Assistant Head - Advancement and DQ Faculty Liaison

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