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Perspective of Elders on Landscape and People Changes in the NWT

How Elders See the Changes Facing the NWT’s Landscape and Peoples

This summer, the Northwest Territories (NWT) in Canada experienced its worst wildfire season on record. Over 15 million hectares of land have already been burned, causing devastating effects on the region’s communities and environment. Against this backdrop, Cabin Radio spoke with South Slave Elders to understand their perspective on the changes happening to the land and their communities. Here’s what they had to say:

Roy Fabian: The Consequences of Disharmony

Roy Fabian, a former chief of the Kátł’odeeche First Nation, shared his concerns about the repeated evacuations his community has faced in recent months. “We’re refugees and we can’t go home,” Fabian said. He emphasized the need to address the disharmony in nature that has led to these disasters.

Fabian believes that the negative impacts of development, such as global warming, are causing nature to respond in destructive ways. He argues that to take care of Mother Earth, we need to work on achieving harmony with her. This harmony is not only about the physical environment but also about human behavior.

Fabian points out that many people claim to respect the Elders but do not behave in a way that reflects that respect. He believes that in traditional times, people maintained humility, harmony, honor, and humanity to take care of Mother Earth. This harmonious way of life left a minimal footprint on the environment.

Having been raised traditionally and spent his life learning how to live in harmony with nature and himself, Fabian reflects on the importance of self-reflection. He acknowledges the mistakes humans make and emphasizes the need to love, respect, and care for oneself. By doing so, one can positively impact others and draw them towards goodness.

Beatrice Lepine: The Need for Care

Beatrice Lepine, with over 30 years of experience in fire management in the North, has witnessed the changes on the land leading up to this devastating wildfire season. She emphasizes the need to take care of the land, pointing out that the consequences of neglecting it are now visible.

Lepine’s perspective highlights the importance of proactive and responsible land management. She suggests that by addressing the root causes of these changes, such as climate change and human activities, we can mitigate their impacts. This includes developing fire management practices that take into account the changing environment and working collaboratively with Indigenous communities.

Related Facts

  • This summer witnessed the worst wildfire season in Canadian history, with over 15 million hectares of land burned.
  • Repeated evacuations in the Northwest Territories have deeply affected communities.
  • The Elders emphasize the need for harmony with nature and oneself to address the disharmony causing these disasters.
  • Care for the land and proactive land management practices are essential to mitigate the impacts of climate change and human activities.

Key Takeaway

The perspectives of Elders like Roy Fabian and Beatrice Lepine provide valuable insights into the challenges facing the NWT’s landscape and peoples. Their wisdom emphasizes the need for harmony, care, and proactive action to address the consequences of climate change and human activities. To protect the environment and ensure the well-being of communities, it is crucial to listen to and learn from the Elders.


The experiences and perspectives of South Slave Elders in the NWT shed light on the urgency of addressing the changes happening to the land and communities. By recognizing the need for harmony and respect, we can work towards achieving a sustainable and balanced relationship with nature. Proactive land management practices and collaboration with Indigenous communities are vital in mitigating the impacts of climate change and ensuring a better future for the NWT.

Denk Liu
Denk Liu
Denk Liu is an honest person who always tells it like it is. He's also very objective, seeing the situation for what it is and not getting wrapped up in emotion. He's a regular guy - witty and smart but not pretentious. He loves playing video games and watching action movies in his free time.

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