People in the North and around the world are facing unprecedented pressures on their natural environments. To ensure thoughtful decisions on complex environmental issues, we need environmentally aware populations. Yet creating a population well-informed on environmental issues is becoming increasingly challenging. Changing demographics, advancing technology and global perspectives all compete for our attention and awareness.
The Northwest Territories faces additional challenges as whole generations spend less time on the land. Retaining and sharing the environmental knowledge, culture and traditional lifestyles of Aboriginal peoples and NWT residents is vital to all factors of our environment: economic, cultural and social.
Measuring the level of environmental awareness in a population can be very difficult. However, direct exposure to the natural environment or a particular place is a strong factor in determining concern for that environment or place. The availability of opportunities to experience the natural environment can be measured as an indicator of the potential for increased environmental awareness. Similarly, environmental programs can help us reduce the impacts of human actions on the environment can also be measured as a proxy for changes in environmental awareness.
19.1. Trends in field environmental education opportunities for Youth.
This indicator tracks the number and types of formal environmental education opportunities offered to youth in the NWT in natural settings. These opportunities may involve formal cooperative planning amongst organizations, communities, schools and others who are actively engaged in the promotion of environmental education. Increasing formal environmental education opportunities for youth should result in enhanced knowledge about current and future environmental issues.
Tundra Science Camp (c) ENR/ S. Yuill
Information on environmental and cultural camps was solicited from within ENR. Additional information on other opportunities was collected from organizations and agencies involved in education and the environment, and the Internet. The list of environmental education opportunities is not an exhaustive list. It will be updated regularly.
Environmental awareness should be influenced by opportunities for instruction or exposure to environmental knowledge. The availability of environmental education to youth can be measured partly by the number of environmental programs offered, or by the number of participants.
International Year of Biodiversity (c) ENR/ S. Yuill
As stewards of our environment, Northerners have a responsibility to educate themselves about the importance of environmental sustainability and pass that knowledge on to current and future generations. Formal environmental education opportunities increase people’s knowledge about the environment and actively engage them in the decision-making process.
As a part of our heritage, traditional on-the-land skills are important. The Canadian North is unique because of the proportion of residents still involved in traditional activities (see renewable resource use). Involving youth in activities that helps them become aware of natural processes, and acquire and enhance bush skills are all important in ensuring current and future generations maintain a strong connection to the land. Formal education opportunities are not the only way youth gain environmental knowledge in the North. Parents and communities have an important role to play in transferring knowledge about the environment, in particular Traditional Knowledge (TK). Formal education opportunities, as measured here, are offered in addition to these important family and community-based opportunities.
Current view: status
Many environmental education programs offered in the NWT provide a rich mix of opportunities to learn on-the-land traditional and scientific knowledge. These programs are coordinated within regions and designed with community input to fit regional needs.
Formal environment/cultural camps are offered by the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT), including the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR); by Education Districts and individual schools; by Renewable Resource Boards (RRBs) in all NWT regions; or, through cooperative efforts of some or all of these organizations.
Formal environmental education field opportunities offered in the NWT are designed for primary through college-level students. Currently, there are no University-level environmental field courses offered in the NWT.
|Take a Kid Trapping Program
||Introduce youth to trapping and related on-the-land skills.
|ITI, ENR and RRBs
||Increasing from 386 to 1104 youth in 2006.
||2003 - current
|Tundra Science Camp
||Introduce high school students to ecological science, natural history and TK and to field skills in wildlife biology, botany, geology, and archaeology on the tundra.
|ENR – Headquarters, with other scientists and Tlicho Elders
participants per year – maximum capacity of Daring Lake Research Station. 240 students to date
|1995 – current
|Tibbitt Lake Fire Study Camp
||Introduce high school and college students to field research and TK related to forest fires and re-growth.
|ENR – Headquarters, North Slave, and Yellowknife Dene Elders
||80-120 students per year
|Dehcho Youth Ecology Camp
||Introduce middle-school students to wildlife biology, forestry, TK, geography, area history, and safety and survival.
|ENR- Dehcho and Dehcho First Nation
||10-14 students per year
||2003 - current
|Birch Sap Syrup Program
||Use traditional harvesting of birch sap to introduce students to culturally- relevant and activity-based application of chemistry, biology, social studies, maths and Aboriginal language/culture.
|ENR Forest Management
Prince of Whales Northern Heritage Centre
|20 students per year
|2005 - current
|Fall Fish Hanging Program
||Introduce students to traditions related to fishing, and hanging fish for trapping bait
||North Slave Region
||16 participants per year
|Bliss Lake Trapper Training and Fire Ecology Camp
||Introduce students to skills and traditions related to trapping, including winter camp and survival skills, and chainsaw and firearms safety. Study impact of fire on furbearers and forest ecology.
||North Slave Region
||80 participants per year
||2002 – current
|National Wildlife Week
||Introduce students and public to one theme subject through hands-on activities and presentations. Part of a national program.
||ENR Head quarters
||Various with event from 20 participants to 600.
||1996 - current
|Experiential Science in High School Curricula
||Provide northern-relevant hands-on activities in science, such as outdoor fieldwork and laboratory experiments on TK, ecology, geomorphology, environmental studies.
|GNWT Department of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE)
||All NWT students in grades 10, 11 and 12.
||Piloted in 2007.
|Environment and Natural Resources Technology Diploma
||Two year program to provide training for practical knowledge and technical skills in natural resources and environmental management fields
||Aurora College in South Slave and Inuvik Regions
|Aurora College (Fort Smith and Inuvik)
||10-20 students per year Approx. 250 graduates to date. 90% Northerners 60% Aboriginal
||1980 – current (Program started 1978 through Selkirk College.)
|Environmental Monitor Training Program
||Provides five week certification course in field skills for environmental monitoring activities.
||Aurora College (Fort Smith) - program delivery covering NWT communities upon request Taiga Plains
||Aurora College (out of Fort Smith) – program delivered in community on request
||Average 30 students per year 150 graduates to date.
||2006 - current
|INAC Science Camp (name varies with region)
||Weeklong camp held in various communities as part of community engagement mandate to increase capacity in youth.
|Indian and Northern Affairs - Contaminated and Remediation Directorate
||Average 12-15 per year
|Sahtu in the schools
||To take information about what wildlife researchers/veterinarians do and introduce it to the kids in the school to encourage youth to think about it as a career. Also provides information on local wildlife species.
Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (Promo Science) Sahtu Renewable Resources Board University of Calgary
|Average 200 per year (k-12)
Organizing formal on-the-land learning experiences for children and young adults is challenging but also very rewarding. Educators, communities, organizations and agencies are noting increased interest in traditional skills and environmental knowledge due to these opportunities. Participants’ evaluations provide sound basis for improvements and offer insights for program changes to enhance the connected- to-the-land experience.
International Year of Forests (c) ENR/ S. Yuill
An absence of information on all formal field opportunities and educational camps in some NWT regions does not mean environment/culture camps or trips do not exist. The information was not available at this time. In future, information from the Aboriginal governments, regional Education Districts, Renewable Resource and Wildlife Management Boards and other organizations and agencies will be included.
Public education specialists, officers and biologists also offer classroom visits and special presentations to schools and organizations. They are varied and represent the diversity of environmental interests in the NWT, ranging from caribou habitat for Sparks and Brownie groups to career fairs in high schools.
These visits and presentations are less well documented and not rigorously tracked.
The 2007-2009 International Polar Year (IPY) projects are providing more opportunities for northern youth than ever before. Students on Ice, (http://www.studentsonice.com/) allowed opportunities for international students to explore both Polar Regions. It is possible some of the environmental education opportunities offered during IPY will remain in the future.
Few national or international programs cater to the needs or culture of young people in the North. Northern-built initiatives are essential to help bridge formal school-based curricula with family/community efforts in sharing environmental and traditional knowledge. Environmental education field opportunities at the University level are offered elsewhere, some with northern field stations.
The Future of Water (c) GNWT/ D. Brosha
Find out more
Other focal points
19.2 Environmental Awareness
This indicator measures efforts to increase environmental awareness, which is defined by the consideration people have of their actions on the natural environment. This indicator also tracks the level of northern participation in environmental programs.
Thinking Energy Efficiency (c) GNWT/ D. Brosha
Information on environmental awareness programs and levels of participation was summarized from surveys among program providers.
The Northwest Territories is one of the first areas in the world to see widespread impacts of climate change. These impacts will affect us all in the coming years and decades and we must determine how we will adapt to these changes. The GNWT recognizes it has a responsibility to contribute to Canada’s efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and is committed to working with governments and organizations to achieve that.
One way that environmental awareness is reflected is in how people change their personal practices to help reduce negative pressures on the environment. This indicator tracks changes in personal practices in the NWT, by individuals, organizations and communities who help reduce energy demands, thus reducing pressure on the environment. In addition, environmental awareness is reflected in how people change their personal practices to help reduce negative pressures on the environment. It is these changes in personal practices that this indicator tracks. Changes in personal practices, in addition to retained traditions, in turn, influence the future state of NWT’s environment.
|Energy Efficiency Incentive Program (EEIP)
||Aids homeowners, businesses and non-profit organizations to purchase energy efficient products
||ENR and Arctic Energy Alliance
||2006 - 2010 - 3,011 rebates
2010/2011 - 887 rebates with an estimated emissions savings of 1,170 tonnes
|2007 - present
|Energy Conservation Program (ECP)
||Supports projects that reduce use of electricity, heat, energy and water for departments, boards, agencies, governments and non-profit organizations
||Eight projects accross the NWT in the 2010/11 FY.
Resulting annual savings are estimated at $40K and 111 tonnes of avoided GHG emissions.
|1980's - present
|Commercial Energy Audit Program
||Offsets the cost of detailed energy audits to identify energy-saving opportunities
||GNWT ENR and Arctic Energy Alliance
||2010/2011 10 commercial yardstick energy audits were performed.
|The Commercial Energy Conservation and Efficiency Program
||To identify and support the implementation of cost effective energy conservation and efficiency measures in NWT businesses.
||GNWT ENR and Arctic Energy Alliance
||Introduced and administered beginning 2011/2012
|Alternative Energy Technologies Program (AETP)
||Assists residents, businesses and communities to integrate commercially available clean energy technologies into their operations to reduce the long-term real cost of energy
||ENR and Arctic Energy Alliance
||Has saved 289 tonnes of CO2 since its inception.
|Make the Switch Program
||Provided every household in NWT with 2 compact fluorescent light bulbs
||ENR and Arctic Energy Alliance
||20,216 bulbs were distributed, for savings of 1,387,222kWh in electricity use
|Eco-Retrofit for Homes Program
||Provides subsidized energy audits to homeowners
||GNWT, Arctic Energy Alliance and Government of Canada
||In 2007/2008-149 homes were energy audited
|EGH 80 Program
||Sets minimum efficiency building standards
||City of Yellowknife
||All new homes must adhere to standards
|Community Energy Plan (CEP)
||Provides advice, workshops and assistance to communities completing their CEP
||MACA, NWT Association of Communities and Arctic Energy Alliance
||All communities have plans, strategies or actions, and at least one energy goal, varying in detail with community
|Energy Management Programs
||Provides advice to building owners on energy efficiency and renewable energy
||ENR and Arctic Energy Alliance (AEA)
||In 2007/2008- 4 Yardstick audits, 16 energy audits, and 2 energy auditing workshops
|Single-use Retail Bag Program
||To reduce the amount of biodegradable, paper and single-use plastic bags
||To date, estimated reduction of 2.5 to 3.1 million bags, representing a 50% to 60% reduction in use.
||Jan. 2010 grocery - present
Feb. 2011 expanded all retailers - present
A number of energy saving and greenhouse gas reducing initiatives and programs exist in the NWT. With the increasing cost of fuel and the negative effects of fossil fuel consumption on the environment, interest in applying alternative energy technologies and reducing greenhouse gases is increasing. It is expected that Northern interest in these programs will continue to increase, and therefore increase our environmental awareness.
Find out more
- For more detailed information on the alternative energy programs in the Northwest Territories, see the appendices.
- Other environmental information and educational materials can be found on the ENR website at: www.enr.gov.nt.ca.