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App: CliMAKEChange

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Mission Statement

Our world is warming up, and we’re facing a global threat. Climate change is defined by extreme variations in meteorological factors such as temperature and weather patterns, which in turn disrupt the usual balance of nature.

Our large interconnected freshwater system, the Great Lakes, are inevitably being impacted by climate change. The Great Lakes are located in the mid-east region between Canada and the United States, and they make up the largest basin of freshwater in the world. The five Great Lakes are Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario. The Great Lakes are crucial to humankind as they account for around 20% of the world’s surface freshwater. Ten million Canadians rely on the Great Lakes as a source of drinking water, for livelihood, and recreational purposes.

Adding to their importance, the Great Lakes are an ideal habitat for various wildlife and aquatic species, however; all of our homes are at risk due to climate change.

The rising temperatures of the Great Lakes cause accelerated evaporation, which in turn causes water levels to decrease. When water levels decrease, the release of sediment-bound nutrients and toxins increases. The drop in water levels also causes decreased dissolved oxygen, especially during periods of ice cover, which is critical for marine flora and fauna. Additionally, warming waters create increased incidences of harmful algal blooms, lead to the decline of cold water species, and enable the success of invasive species. For instance, Zebra mussels have caused major disruptions in native fish populations among all of the Great Lakes. Exacerbating all of these issues is the fact that development and significant shoreline alterations have resulted in a loss of coastal biodiversity and ecological resilience. The shorelines act as a buffer for what enters the lacustrine ecosystem, therefore the deterioration of shoreline zones and wetlands increases the risk of harming the Great Lakes beyond repair.

First Nations Peoples have lived and coexisted with the Great Lakes ecosystem for millennia, pre-dating European settlers by thousands of years. Approximately 120 bands of Indigenous Peoples have occupied the Great Lakes basin over the course of history. A 2018 poll by the International Joint Commission showed that Indigenous respondents are more worried about the health and state of the Great Lakes than non-Indigenous respondents. Despite this, there has been an ongoing struggle for inclusion of Indigenous voices in water governance of the Great Lakes since at least 1972, when Canada and the United States signed the first Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Ongoing work is being done by scientists, such as Dr. Deborah McGregor, to highlight how external agencies, institutional researchers, and non-Indigenous individuals can support the meaningful engagement of Indigenous knowledge to protect our Great Lakes. CliMAKEChange believes that there is always more to learn as we strive for truth and reconciliation, and this education is vital for future Indigenous governance of the Great Lakes. Indigenous water governance will be essential to protect the future of our home’s “freshwater seas”.

“If you think that one person can’t make a difference, that’s not true, because if everybody felt that way we’ll go nowhere. If everybody thought ‘my little piece can make a difference’, then cumulatively we make a massive difference.” - Dr. Gail Krantzberg

CliMAKEChange endeavors to make that difference. Through CliMAKEChange, we hope to raise awareness about the issues that our Great Lakes face in the wake of climate change, and to highlight the importance of Indigenous involvement in future management and conservation efforts in the Canadian context. Not only should we try to reverse damage and protect future conservation of our Great Lakes, but a fundamental change in how the lakes are exploited for resources needs to occur if we are to save these ecological wonders for future generations. Join CliMAKEChange as we strive to change the future of our Great Lakes. With Great Lakes, come great responsibilites.

Video Presentation


Team Members

Madinakhon (Madina) Sulaymonova: I am currently an ECCE Student Associate for McMaster and in my final year of Honours Environmental Sciences Co-op. I am fully accredited to attain a Certified GIS Professional (GISP). My interest in GIS revolves around my passion for pidemiology. My undergraduate senior thesis focussed on PM2.5 exposure and inhalation dose along varying routes in Hamilton, Ontario. I have worked as a GIS student for Bruce Power and McMaster’s Utilities Department. My hobbies include drinking bubble tea while listening to true crime podcasts, playing APEX Legends, and hot yoga.

Angie Abi Daoud: I am a PhD candidate with the Quantitative Sedimentology Lab at McMaster University, where I also earned a BSc in Earth and Environmental Sciences and a GIS Certificate. My project involves studying paleoenvironments using stratigraphy, geochemistry, ethnogeology, and micropaleontology in the Northwest Territories. Outside of academics I enjoy fossil hunting, crocheting, hiking, and taking care of my farm in Stardew Valley.

Olivia Maddigan: I am in my final year of Geography and Environmental Science Co-Op at McMaster University. My senior thesis project focused on respiratory health determinants in Hamilton, Ontario. I am now working at Environment and Climate Change Canada within the Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance Division for the Great Lakes.