Tracking Climate Change – Youth Knowledge Fair 2018


The University of Alberta, the Mackenzie River Basin Board, the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT), as well as and many other Aboriginal governments and organizations and universities in Canada and internationally are working together on a 6-year, $2.5 million dollar research initiative called ‘Tracking Change – Local and Traditional Knowledge in Watershed Governance’.

The Tracking Change… project developed in recognition that many peoples in the Mackenzie River Basin, particularly Indigenous peoples, have valuable insights about the social and environmental sustainability of the Basin. Many land users (hunters, fishers, berry harvesters etc.) have been observing and experiencing what is going on with the land, water, fish, geese/ducks, wildlife in the same way, using the same signs/signals for many generations. Such tracking of change, has been more than a technical process of monitoring; people watch, listen, learn and communicate about change because they care about the health of the land and the health of their communities. While much of this knowledge is based on sacred oral traditions, there is a growing need to bring this knowledge forward to ensure the continued health and sustainability of the Mackenzie River Basin. Tracking Change… would provide the Mackenzie River Basin Board Traditional Knowledge Steering Committee, communities, co-management boards and NGOs an opportunity to work together to learn more about land user observations, experiences and oral histories about many kinds of ecological and related socio-economic and cultural change. Many previous studies were very local in nature and not linked to other research in other areas. Today, efforts to develop a broader, regional perspective are being facilitated through the efforts of co-management boards, regional organizations as a result of land claim settlements and related legislation (e.g., Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act).  


Our Traditional Knowledge Steering Committee, research partners, participating communities and others involved in the Tracking Change have always identified the importance of engaging youth in all aspects of our research project including the definition of research priorities and key issues for study. Some of the youth/young adults involved in the project will be graduate students from different universities. But given that post secondary enrollment in the north is low, finding ways to engage with other students at the junior and high school level is also a key priority. Through the Knowledge Fair, they can learn more about research, science and gain exposure to a university environment. But we can also learn from youth; they are our future leaders and their ideas matter! It is anticipated  that outcomes from the student projects could help to identify key areas for future research to support the goals of Tracking Change


The theme of the Youth Knowledge Fair for 2018 is Tracking Climate Change. This decision is tied to two key issues:

  • Researchers leading Tracking Change projects across the Mackenzie River Basin in 2016 and 2017 highlighted many different kinds of observations and experiences of change in water, fish and fishing livelihoods that point to problems of climate change. We also want to hear from youth about their perspectives of climate change!
  • There is an opportunity to partner with the Centre for Global Education in Edmonton which could link students involved in the Tracking Change Youth Knowledge Fair from across the Basin to other youth globally who are also studying and talking about their experiences of climate change. It would be exciting to participate in this larger global network, particularly as they prepare to participate in COP24 in Poland later in 2018.


The event will be held May 16-18, in Edmonton at the University of Alberta.

The last Youth Knowledge Fair was held in May, 2016. Planning for the Tracking Change Youth Knowledge Fair 2018 is currently underway. The format of the fair builds on a successful fairs held during the past two years (2015-16) in Edmonton. At these events, we hosted 60 students from 7 communities from northern Alberta with support from Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the University of Alberta.

Objectives of the Youth Knowledge Fair 2018

The Youth Knowledge Fair Tracking Climate Change will bring together youth from the various jurisdictions of the Mackenzie River Basin including the Northwest Territories. The objectives of the knowledge fair would be:

  • Create opportunities for high school youth (Grade 10-11) to connect with each other in Edmonton for three days of educational activities including knowledge sharing activities, educational workshops, keynote presentations from inspirational youth and Aboriginal leaders, tours of the University of Alberta;
  • Support students to learn about their own histories, ecosystems and communities from elders and their communities and through their schools through submissions of poster projects; and
  • Encourage the development of research and written/oral communication skills by through a poster project related to the health of water, fish, fishing livelihoods and well-being of communities in the Mackenzie River
  • Create opportunities for youth and schools to network with other youth globally on issues of climate change through the Centre for Global Education

Who can apply to attend?

The Youth Knowledge Fair is open to applications from Grade 10-11 students from the five provincial and territorial jurisdictions of the Mackenzie River Basin. Our aim is to host between 50-60 students in a three day gathering. The event will be held over three days at the University of Alberta. Accommodation will be available at the Lister Hall Conference Centre and student residence at the University of Alberta main campus (Edmonton) with events being held both at the University of Alberta and at the Telus World of Science.

Sponsorship Opportunities

If your organization would be interested in supporting the Youth Knowledge Fair we are interested in the following kinds of contributions:

  • sponsorship of students to attend ($2000 per student)
  • contributions prior to March 31st for the Youth Knowledge Fair Coordinator
  • contributions after March 31st for the Youth Knowledge Fair Coordinator
  • cash contributions towards accommodation / airfare and catering;
  • cash contribution towards learning activities and materials
  • In kind contributions of staff support during the gathering

In exchange for your sponsorship, we would include your logo on our materials and in any media communications. You are also welcome to attend the event.


For more information on how to sponsor students or support the gathering, please contact:

Dr. Brenda Parlee, University of Alberta


Elaine Maloney, Tracking Change Knowledge Coordinator


Carrie Karsgaard – Youth Knowledge Fair (2018) Coordinator