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Teaching Arctic kids about climate change


Findings from the most comprehensive and integrative Canadian study to date looking at the interconnectedness of climate change effects on land, water and ecosystems will soon inform lessons for kindergarten to Grade Six students in Nunavut.

“These children are potential researchers and community and territorial decision makers of the future,” says Scott Lamoureux, the Queen’s Geography researcher leading the multi-year project. “They are more likely to do something about climate change if they realize how quickly it can affect their environment in their lifetime.”

The project is one of 44 Canadian research initiatives to receive a total of $100 million International Polar Year (IPY) research funding from the federal government.

“In places like Nunavut where most drinking water is transported directly from fresh water lakes to homes, it is important to know and accurately predict the effects of climate change on the supply and quality of water,” says Dr. Lamoureux. “The northern communities depend on animals and plants as part of their cultural identity and for sustenance, so ecosystem sustainability in a changing climate is crucial for them as well.”

As part of this project, teacher Linda Lamoureux of Kingston’s Martello School is working with scientists and teachers in Resolute to translate and incorporate the scientific findings into lessons for Kindergarten to Grade six students.

Other members of the research team include, from the Queen’s Geography Department: Paul Treitz, Melissa Lafreniere and Neal Scott; Myrna Simpson and Andre Simpson from U of T; and Pierre Francus from INRS-ETE, Quebec.

Designed to integrate northerners and their interests into International Polar Year activities, the educational component of this initiative will increase their opportunities to become part of the decision-making that affects their environment and their futures.

By teaching the children to recognize and become aware of the potential changes that could happen in their lifetimes, the lessons aim to help them become aware of how quickly the Arctic environment can change. Consistent with territorial guidelines, the curriculum will be translated into Inuktitut and will involve extensive consultation with teachers and community members in Resolute.

“One of the most challenging – but also most important – parts of our northern research is trying to connect with the community to help them understand what we’re doing, and in turn understand their perspective on this,” Dr. Lamoureux adds. “They will be very concerned about these kinds of changes.”

International Polar Year (IPY) is the largest-ever international program of coordinated scientific research focused on the Arctic and Antarctic regions and the first in 50 years.


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