Young Yukoners take action on Climate Change, Part 1

KDFN Citizen Carissa Waugh recently graduated from the Yukon First Nations Climate Action Fellowship.

Carissa at COP27 in Egypt.


Formed in 2020, the Yukon First Nations Climate Action Fellowship have completed an action plan that aims to help communities and governments tackle climate change in a way that reflects a Yukon First Nations worldview. According to a draft of that action plan released last summer, “the heart of climate change lies within our disconnection from spirit, self, each other and earth.” The fellows promote reconnection as climate action.

Carissa Waugh is a KDFN Citizen and member of the Crow clan. Last November, she travelled to the Egyptian city of Sharm El Sheikh to attend the United Nations Climate Change conference, COP27. She feels the trip was an amazing opportunity, though it was a little overwhelming because of how much there was to take in.

“It was definitely very surreal to be there,” says Carissa.

Carissa spent her time in Egypt listening to panel discussions. One of the highlights for her was a roundtable meeting led by international Indigenous youth.

“That really opened my eyes,” says Carissa.

Despite all of the doom and gloom around the environment, Carissa believes young people can turn things around.

“People say ‘it’s too late to fix the earth,’” Carissa says. “It makes me hopeful that we have youth that are working towards leadership.”

Carissa poses at COP27 with a copy of the Yukon First Nations Climate Action Fellowship’s draft action plan.


Carissa has been involved with climate action since a young age. In high school, she was a youth representative with the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council. In early 2020, Carissa attended an Arctic Council conference in Ottawa. That trip inspired her to do more when it comes to global warming. With some encouragement from friends, she jumped at the opportunity to join the fellowship.

“It’s really been a life changing experience,” says Carissa. “I have been able to do so many things that I am passionate about.”

An avid artist, Carissa reconnects with her spirit and the world around her through beading. Under her Northern Tutchone name, Ékè Éwe, she makes and sells earrings and pins. Carissa’s designs feature depictions of natural things like feathers and fish, as well as pop culture icons like Bart Simpson and Darth Vader. She also designed a logo for the fellowship.

Carissa designed a logo for the fellowship.

Carissa’s not sure what the future holds for her but she would like to continue her art. She and some other fellows have talked about potentially starting a maker’s space where Indigenous artists can create. She also feels getting into leadership is not out of the question.

“My opportunities are open,” says Carissa.

Carissa would like to say shä̀w níthän, másin cho, gunałchÎsh, and thank you to the Northern Council for Global Cooperation for helping fund the trip to Egypt

Stay tuned as we share more from the Kwanlin Dän Ch’a newsletter, including a story about fellow Jessi-John Whalen.