Arctic Dialogues — Science and Policy of Permafrost Thaw in the Arctic

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Arctic Dialogues — Science and Policy of Permafrost Thaw in the Arctic

Friday, October 16 at 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm EDT

Registration to attend this Webinar has now closed. Please click here to watch the recording of this important discussion on the Massey College YouTube channel.



Arctic permafrost is thawing at an immense speed. Scientists estimate that 1,400 gigatons of carbon are frozen in the region. Soon, it may be unaffordable – or impossible – for tundra countries to meet even the most lenient greenhouse gas emission targets. Indeed, urgent action is needed in the North to avoid runaway emissions that could defeat global efforts to stall or mitigate the devastation of climate change. This dialogue is a step towards progress in finding solutions to this pressing crisis, by bringing together experts from across the circumpolar north to discuss science and policy responses to permafrost thaw in the Arctic region.



Opening remarks: Tom Axworthy, Chair of Public Policy at Massey College, and moderator Tony Penikett, former Premier of Yukon (

Scientific responses to permafrost thaw: A conversation between Christopher Burn, Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences, Carleton University and Jocelyn Joe-Strack, PhD Candidate, School of Environment and Sustainability, University of Saskatchewan

Policy responses to permafrost thaw: A conversation between Dalee Sambo Dorough, International Chair of Inuit Circumpolar Council and Franklyn Griffiths, Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto

Q&A – viewers are welcome and encouraged to submit questions to our group of experts.




This event is hosted by Massey College, Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History, Arctic Law Group at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law

Contact: Tony Penikett (on content and comments on discussion) at and Emily Tsui (on event logistics) at


Biographies of Speakers

Thomas S. Axworthy is Chair of Public Policy at Massey College, University of Toronto. He has had a distinguished career in government, academia, and philanthropy. He served as the Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and he was a key strategist on repatriation of the Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. From 2009 to 2015, Dr. Axworthy was president and CEO of The Gordon Foundation, an institution known for its partnership with Northern indigenous leaders in helping to create the Arctic Council.

Tony Penikett spent 25 years in public life, including two years at the Canadian House of Commons as Chief of Staff to federal New Democratic Party Leader Ed Broadbent; five terms in the Yukon Legislative Assembly; and two terms as Premier of Canada’s Yukon Territory. His government negotiated settlements of Yukon First Nation land claims; passed pioneering legislation in the areas of education, health, language; and organised Yukon 2000, a unique bottom-up economic planning process. After serving as Premier of the Yukon, Penikett acted as Senior Aboriginal Policy Advisor for the Premier of Saskatchewan (1995-97) and Deputy Minister for Negotiations, and later Labour, for the Government of British Columbia (1997-2001).

Christopher Burn is Chancellor’s Professor of Geography at Carleton University and supervisor of Carleton’s Graduate Programs in Northern Studies. He held an NSERC Senior Northern Research Chair at the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies from 2002‐12, throughout the program’s life. He came to Canada in 1981 as a Commonwealth Scholar, and completed both the M.A. (Geography, 1983) and Ph.D. (Geology, 1986) at Carleton. He then moved to U.B.C. as a Killam fellow, to study with J.Ross Mackay, the world authority in his field. In recognition of his exceptional work, Chris was awarded a D.Sc. (Geography) by Durham University and the Polar Medal by the Governor General of Canada in 2018. He is President of the International Permafrost Association.

Jocelyn Joe-Strack, Daqualama (Da-kal-a-ma), is a member of the Wolf Clan of northwestern Canada’s Champagne and Aishihik First Nation. Jocelyn is an Indigenous scientist, philosopher and entrepreneur who strives to evolve tomorrow’s policies by blending yesterday’s ancestral lessons with today’s systematic knowledge. She uses her experience as a trained microbiologist, hydrologist and policy analyst along with her cultural foundations to explore resilient approaches to challenges such as climate change, societal wellbeing and prosperity. She is a PhD candidate in the School of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan.

Dalee Sambo Dorough is the International Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, a non-governmental organization that represents approximately 165,000 Inuit from the Russian Far East, Alaska, Canada and Greenland. She holds a Ph.D. from University of British Columbia, Faculty of Law (2002) and a Master of Arts in Law & Diplomacy from The Fletcher School at Tufts University (1991). She is affiliated with the University of Alaska Anchorage where she served as an Assistant Professor of International Relations within the Department of Political Science from 2008-2018; former Chairperson [2014] and Expert Member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (2010-2016); and co-Chair of the International Law Association (ILA) Committee on Implementation of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Franklyn Griffiths is one of Canada’s leading experts on Arctic and Russian affairs. He is professor emeritus in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto and a member of the Norwegian Scientific Academy for Polar Research. Professor Griffiths contributed, along with others, to the formation of the Arctic Council, co-chairing the Arctic Council Panel which persuaded the Government of Canada to commit formally to the idea of a central Arctic intergovernmental forum with direct Aboriginal participation.


Registration to attend this Webinar has now closed. Please click here to watch the recording of this important discussion on the Massey College YouTube channel.