Under the general direction of the Grand Chief, the Circumpolar Relations Department has been established to monitor and address international and circumpolar issues that may affect the interests of Yukon First Nations peoples. The Circumpolar Relations office also hosts the permanent secretariat for the Arctic Athabaskan Council (AAC) as well as managing the Northern Contaminants Program, the Northern Ecosystem Initiative (NEI) and climate change initiatives.
The Northern Contaminants Program was established in 1991 in response to concerns that contaminants were reaching the Canadian Arctic. During the first six years, research was focused on gathering the data required to determine the levels, geographic extent, and source of contaminants in the northern atmosphere, environment and its peoples. Monitoring in the Yukon has continued to show that our traditional foods are very safe to eat and highly nutritious. Today, the Circumpolar Relations unit continues to communicate results and monitor for new types of contaminants in the Yukon. For more information go to www.northerncontaminants.ca.
The Northern Ecosystem Initiative (NEI) is a partnership based national program of Environment Canada that supports action on shared priorities important to the conservation, protection and restoration of northern ecosystems and sustainability of northern communities. It has established four Partner-Issue Tables for four of the program priorities, climate change, contaminants, resource use and monitoring as well as an Advisory Committee for the fifth program priority, Capacity Building.
The Circumpolar Relations Unit took the comments given at the CYFN General Assembly in 1999-2000 and began work in the area of climate change. Specific work includes climate change impacts and adaptations as it relates to community health, human-environments and ecosystems, and the promotion of energy efficient technologies and the reduction green house gas emissions.
The Arctic Athabaskan Council continues to serve the CYFN as their Aboriginal representative organization for circumpolar and international affairs. The CYFN Circumpolar Relations' mandate is to ensure Yukon First Nations interests are effectively represented in the Arctic Council and other international environmental fora. For more information go to www.arcticathabaskancouncil.com.
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