Indigenous Governance is an Adaptive Climate Change Strategy 


  • Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox
  • Rachel MacNeill



Climate Change, Arctic, Indigenous Knowledge


Since the 1960s, scientists have been aware that human activity has resulted in a warming climate. This reality has and will continue to result in changes to the way we live.

The Arctic and Subarctic have held prominent places in discussions on climate change, in part because impacts here are so stark and clearly connected to the effects of changes in temperature. In popular discourse internationally, media narratives often focus on “charismatic megafauna”: polar bears starving, venturing into towns, disoriented, hungry, drowning.1 In Canada, Indigenous and ally activism on climate change make the link with food security, personal safety, and cultural survival, employing stories of Indigenous hunters no longer able to reliably read the signs of the land due to “strange weather.”2 Indigenous Peoples provide critical insights into how climate change results in immediate and important implications for humans.3 However, using Indigenous experiences as evidence for climate change is often where the conversation stops—it should instead be a starting point. The conversation needs to turn to how Indigenous Knowledge, cultures, and the ways of life grounding Indigenous decision-making authority are a viable, legitimate, sustainable, and adaptive climate change strategy. ...
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Author Biographies

Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox

PhD, is the author of Finding Dahshaa (UBC Press, 2009), and scientific director of Hotıì ts’eeda in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

Rachel MacNeill

... MA, knowledge translation advisor of Hotıì ts’eeda (






Commentaries and Reflections