Selkirk First Nation

A Pilot Study on the Health Effects on the Selkirk First Nation due to Climate Change

Community History – The History of Our People

The Traditional Territories of the Selkirk First Nation are located in Central Yukon approximately halfway between Whitehorse and Dawson City. Across these lands flow several great rivers – Yukon, Pelly and Stewart – that have determined the settlement of the people across the territory for many millenniums. The flow of these rivers has had both symbolic and practical influences on how the people have settled and lived across the ages. One of the first permanent settlements in the Yukon was Fort Selkirk, established at the convergence of the Yukon and Pelly rivers in 1854. The people of Selkirk First Nation (hereafter referred to as ‘SFN’) came to the rivers every summer to stock up on fish for the long winters. Hunting was also a frequent and necessary activity then as it is now. Rivers have always provided a key source of food to the people of Selkirk and herein lies the focus of this project.

Project Summary – How We Are Leading the Way

Climate change is occurring in the Traditional Territory and the people of SFN are unsure about the effect it is having on them.  The critical issue with SFN is what effect climate change may be having on the ecosystems from which they derive their food and water supplies.

One of the effects of climate change may be an increased incidence of landslides occurring near the rivers and tributaries that flow through the Traditional Territories (TT). The questions that people ask are:

  • How will climate change affect our way of living?
  • Are landslides caused by climate change, and if they are, will there be more landslides in the near future?
  • How do landslides affect our water, the fish, and the terrestrial food supply from which we get our sustenance?
  • What are the potential commodities which may enter the watershed area?

A detailed scientific study of this topic that may provide answers was well beyond the scope of this pilot project.  However anecdotal information gathered from the Elders was sought to provide a base for further study.

The methodology to get the required information was to:

  • perform a face-to-face survey of Elders across the Selkirk First Nation,
    • A series of questions were asked to Elders for historical information about landslide activity in the SFN TT, and any resulting health effects from these landslides
  • interview scientists familiar with landslides to get their opinions on these topics as they relate to the SFN TT,
  • do a survey of satellite imagery to document landslides on the major rivers in the study area that would update a 2006 study.

Community Profile

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Project Information

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