Expedition cruise passengers exploring the Northwest Passage step onto a thick pan of sea ice.

A large iceberg, likely originating from Greenland’s northwest coast, drifts through Lancaster Sound, Nunavut.

Large pieces of Arctic ice from Greenland were displayed as part of an art installation during the COP 21 summit in Paris.

Bringing the Arctic to Paris

It is a startling image: an Inuit hunter pulls a Greenland dog-sled with standard-bred poodles along the Seine River in the heart of Paris, France.

This art project, L’arctique est Paris, combines interactive art, film, and presentation. It is one of many ArtCOP 21 efforts to “expand the conversation” and draw attention to climate in unique, emotive ways.

Sámi Youth addresses large crowd at Global Landscapes Forum

Not only does climate change pose immediate environmental challenges to indigenous groups, the large scale climate mitigation and adaptation measures being proposed also have serious impacts.

The human rights and land tenure panel at the two day COP21 Global Landscape Forum addressed how to ensure such projects proceed in a way that respects international and national indigenous rights to land and consultation.

One answer to this question came from young Sámi leader Per Jonas Partapuoli, a board member of the International Centre of Reindeer Husbandry. His family has been herding reindeer in the Laevas district since long-before Sweden was a country. “It is where I find my safety, love, identity and further where my future will be,” Partapuoli said.

Ice Watch at COP 21

Beyond the usual suspects of environmental groups, students, and social justice organizers, COP21 has drawn unexpected players including actors, musicians, and artists.

Amongst the estimated 40,0000 participants sits a stunning display of twelve large blocks of Arctic ice arranged in a clock shape in front of Paris’ iconic Pantheon, just five kilometres from the Eiffel Tower. Artists Olafur Eliasson and Minik Rosing have created Ice Watch, drawing on the symbolism of a melting and breaking Arctic ice shelf as a symbolic rallying cry for climate change.

Getting indigenous voices heard at COP 21

On Tuesday, the Indigenous Peoples’ Pavilion at COP 21 hosted its opening ceremony replete with dance, song and a vibrant fusion of traditional dress.

Much of the last remaining swaths of land “available” for economic and resource development rest on indigenous territories. Yet climate choking fossil-fuel based development continues to gobble up what is left, and at the Pavilion, indigenous leaders from around the world say they are unanimous in their refusal to resign their duty to protect their lands.

The Pavilion is situated in the Climate Generations Area, known as the Green Zone, directly adjacent to the official leader’s space, the UN Blue Zone. UNESCO, World Resources Institute, the World Wildlife Fund, Google platform climate-simulators, alternative agriculture demonstrations and art exhibits share the space alongside the Pavilion. It bustles with a cacophony of sound and heat; a vibrant answer to the stuffy formality of its state-led counterpart.

In her opening ceremony speech for the Pavilion, Inuit Circumpolar Council Chair Okalik Egeesiak affirmed the role the Arctic plays in sustaining global climate systems. Science shows that it is the melting polar ice caps and permafrost that will set of irreversible feedback loops of rising sea levels, shifting ocean currents, and increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

But the leaders were not here to speak the language of science. They were gathered to speak the language of humanity.

The first days of COP 21 in Paris

Thousands of delegates, citizens, scientists and activists have descended onto a city and country in a state of stifled turbulence for UNFCCC’s COP 21, the largest climate conference yet.

Tens of thousands of conference attendees flew into Paris on Saturday in advance of the conference start on Monday. Sunday was billed as day zero and a day of civil action for climate allies and non-governmental groups. Early Sunday morning, thousands of empty shoes were placed around the Place de la Republique to march in the place of those who could not march for climate.

All eyes on Paris

Today marks day one of the UNFCCC’s COP 21 in Paris.

Our Twitter feed is starting to fill up with retweets from circumpolar new outlets and organizations. Outside of Twitter, we’re monitoring regional, Canadian and international media to see where and how Arctic concerns, communities, science, and policies factor into reporting on and about COP 21.

So far, most of the mainstream media reporting has only focused on the Arctic as an example of, or a backdrop to global climate change. But, it’s only day one! We’ll keep analyzing media over the next 10 days, and post brief summaries here.

The Path to Yellowknife: How a forest fire and a bunch of data informed my reporting

From the safety of a helicopter, Fire ZF-014 looked unimpressive, a monotonous black stain, interrupted only by lakes and the occasional sighting of smoke plumes.

But as the helicopter made its way deeper into the affected area, I began to get a grasp of the fire’s size. The black, smoldering stain, which at mid-August was estimated to be 32,000 hectares, stretched as far as the eye could see.

And then, as the magnitude of the calamity dawned on me, a big, fat question fell on my lap like a giant sack of potatoes. It was a selfish question, but I couldn’t shake it off.

How did I, a student journalist from Argentina, end up in this helicopter, covering one of the biggest blazes of this year’s fire season in the Northwest Territories?

Heading to #COP21, Follow us here and on Twitter

Our research team will be monitoring media and tweeting live from Paris!

Lauren Kaljur, a member of our research team is heading to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (better known as #COP21) in Paris later this week.

Lauren will be doing journalism for Open Canada, and blogging here about her experiences reporting in and on the most highly anticipated climate change conference yet.