Site: Kluane (Kluane/Wrangell-St Elias/Glacier Bay/Tatshenshini-Alsek)
What is your personal relation to the marine WHS you represent?
I am a member of Kluane First Nation. The Kluane National Park is a part of my heritage and culture. It means a great deal to our people and those who live near the park. Kluane First Nation is one of two First Nations cooperative manager partners of Kluane National Park and Reserve (KNPR). KNPR is part of the larger area encompassed by the WHS designation. My personal relationship with the WHS is that I grew up living next door to its boundary. I personally have observed changes in relation to the climate, forest, landscape and animals that live here but further to that my First Nations ancestors have occupied this landscape for time immemorial and much of their knowledge of the land, animals and weather has been passed onto me threw the traditional of oral history. As a member of KFN I have subsistence harvesting rights within KNPR boundary and with those rights come great responsibility. Learning more about sustainable development and responsible utilization of the landscape and all it offers is something I strive for. I am young and my experiences limited but feel that comparatively to many others my age in Canada, I have a good sense of the awareness of the issues we face now and will in the future related to climate change and the importance of acting now for the future generations.
What are the specific problems and threats of your marine WHS?
In general – receding glaciers and winters are warmer. Kluane National Park & Reserve is very well known for its massive non-polar ice fields and diverse climate that is heavily influents by meeting of the Pacific Ocean winds and Northern air flow. Many unique plant species are found in KNPR due to these unique features. As the weather warms in our area, the ice fields and some of these unique species are being threatened. Even minor changes to the environment can have dramatic effects on the ice pack and sensitive plants and animal species. Another threat that could eventually be encountered is also the future development of the lands surrounding KNPR and the WHS borders. Mining is a growing economy that is heavily impacting the Yukon Territory in northern Canada currently. We all wonder what the future will bring.
Why do you think is it important to safeguard your marine WHS?
It will always be important to safeguard our natural lands that are left. Just because we don’t know what’s all out in the world doesn’t mean we can protect it and does not give mankind the right to destroy it. Everything around us is a part of a huge network and when one part is affected, eventually everything will be. For example: The ice fields in Kluane provide a huge amount of fresh water to the entire world. What affects us here, eventually will affect all of us globally. It’s so important to educate the entire world in relation to the changes we see here.