Inuvialuit Traditional and Local Knowledge (TLK) experts have warned that the land and waters of the ISR are not what they used to be and Inuvialuit communities have raised deep concerns about climate change and the rapid and unfamiliar environmental transformations underway in the ISR. Across generations, Inuvialuit have shared stories and observations about irregular weather patterns and a rapidly changing environment. Over the past few decades, Inuvialuit have also participated in the collection of research data on climate change impacts include shifting ice freeze-up and break-up trends, plant and animal species migration, coastal erosion, permafrost degradation, land slumps, flooding, and health and wellness effects. For Inuvialuit whose cultural identity and overall wellness are intrinsically linked to the land and waters of the ISR, the risks associated with climate change can lead to both tangible and intangible consequences.
The ISR Climate Change Strategy uses data from the Climate Atlas of Canada, the National Snow and Ice Data Center, as well as Canada in a Changing Climate Report to support observations made by Inuvialuit community members. Inuvialuit TLK experts have linked several specific changes to higher average temperatures, including freezing rain during winter months, heavier snow consistency and greater prevalence of fog and cumulonimbus cloud formations. The changing climate introduces unique challenges to preserving the Inuvialuit way of life. For example, climate change is restricting travel and access to the land and high water levels make it difficult to distinguish where the banks of rivers are located. This is impacting traditional harvesting as a means of sustenance and expression of culture, as well as safety and reliable travel across ISR lands and waters. Extreme weather and coastal erosion is also impacting housing and infrastructure, and ecosystem health and diversity.