For an Environmental Engineer, it is very important to know the jurisdiction that one will be working in. Not only is thorough knowledge of the natural characteristics such as geological and meteorological aspects of the jurisdiction to scientifically cater to the unique environmental concerns of a certain area, but it is also essential that one also knowledge of the social and judicial aspects of the jurisdiction for easier cooperation with the citizens and more efficient applications of environmental impact assessments and mitigations or development of environmental policy and regulation, for example.
The Northwest Territories and Nunavut are unique in many aspects that concern Environmental Engineering practice. In general, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are already geared towards environmental safety, conservation, and regulation. For example, in the Northwest Territories, programs are already in place to ensure sustainability of forest use, regulation of wildlife protection and use, etc.
In Nunavut, their Department of Environment actively apply what they call Avatittinnik Kamatsiarniq, or environmental stewardship, to conserve their vast natural resources and promote sustainability, a principle that is based on the Inuit culture and must be respected by any Environmental Engineer who plans to practice in that territory.
In fact, one must have good knowledge of that culture as the Inuit populace of Nunavut make up the majority of the demographic and thus their culture and belief system have a great influence on governmental policies, considering that the self-governing system of the Inuit is unique to Nunavut and issues such as land claims are a constant concern. Similarly, the agencies of the Northwest territories also make use of the traditional knowledge of the Inuit concerning the natural resources and the relationship between man and environment.
As North American Indians comprise the majority of the population in the Northwest Territories, they appreciate the value of this knowledge and these are taken into consideration in the making of public policies which include environmental engineering law. To work in the Northwest Territories, one must be aware of programs such as the NWT Protected Areas Strategy, that utilizes a community-based process as it makes sure to respect Aboriginal rights to balance conservation and economic development.
The programs already in place and the social set-up of the jurisdiction are only part of the concerns of an Environment Engineer, of course the physical aspects of the territories are also important. The weather is an important part of the culture of the Aboriginal people, not only are the weather extremes (such as the record-breaking Arctic heat in Nunavut) and the natural hazards serious concerns, climate change is also a much monitored phenomenon.
The geological makeup and position of Nunavut and the Northwest territories make them very vulnerable to climate change effects, such as the possible melting of permafrost. In the Northwest Territories, their use of their abundant mineral resources have caused a great strain in the environment such as the giant earth scars left by diamond mines or the hazardous tailings pond spills, and the Environmental Engineer should not only be aware of these for future mining operations but could also work together with other agencies to alleviate these prior issues.
Furthermore, the geology of Nunavut can span most of Earth’s history with great economic potential yet it is still very underdeveloped, and yet, they are actively advertising extreme sports tourism which could cause environmental as well as safety concerns. In all, there is a balance in the naturalistic Aboriginal-based society and community and the raw environment of this jurisdiction that gives the Environmental Engineer a unique practice.
Courtney from Study Moose
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