Changing landscapes and northern ways of life

The Northern Climate ExChange and the University of Saskatchewan worked with the Jean Marie River First Nation and Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation to make climate change research relevant to northern Indigenous adaptation planning. The communities of Old Crow, Yukon and Jean Marie River, NWT are both surrounded by permafrost and are dealing with the impacts of permafrost thaw. The “Human Dimensions of a Thawing Landscape” project combined data on landscape thaw, traditional land use and climate change impacts to support community adaptation decision-making.

Project overview

The project aimed to answer the questions:

How can biophysical and social science products combine to meet the needs of northern Indigenous communities? How are the traditional land uses of the Jean Marie River First Nation and the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation affected by climate change and a thawing landscape?

Students with the Yukon School of Visual Arts worked with researchers, community members, local artists and Elders to communicate biophysical and social science research products, and traditional and local knowledge using electronic arts. Communities identified their concerns related landscape thaw and chose a social science method that provided the framework for the adaptation planning process.

Together the community and researchers co-developed a process for incorporating traditional knowledge, western science and current community priorities into northern Indigenous community planning.

Project team

Alison Perrin, Climate Change Education and Project Coordinator, Yukon Research Centre

Dr. Fabrice Calmels, Permafrost Researcher, Yukon Research Centre

Principal Investigator, Graham StrickertAdjunct Faculty, Yukon College; Research Associate, Global Institute for Water Security and Changing Cold Regions Network, University of Saskatchewan

  • Margaret Ireland, Jean Marie River First Nation
  • Sophia Flather, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation
  • Alison Perrin, Research Project Coordinator, Northern Climate ExChange, Yukon Research Centre, Yukon College
  • Dr. Fabrice Calmels, Permafrost Researcher, Northern Climate ExChange, Yukon Research Centre, Yukon College
  • Cyrielle Laurent, Principal, Geo Cardinal Services
  • Curtis Collins, Director, Yukon School of Visual Arts, Yukon College
  • Bill Burns, Instructor, Yukon School of Visual Arts, Yukon College
  • Scott Bell, Professor, Department of Geography & Planning, University of Saskatchewan
  • Lori Bradford, Research Associate, School of Public Health, University of Saskatchewan

Student researchers

  • Tyler Anderson
  • Sierra Megas
  • Isaac Roberts
  • Alex Stratulat

Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation
Jean Marie River First Nation
University of Saskatchewan
Geo Cardinal Services


Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council