Bering Sea Food Crisis Fund

In the Bering Sea climate change has created a food crisis for the Yupik people on St. Lawrence Island after years of contamination by industrial toxins. Help!
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Caleb Behn
Community
Vancouver, British Columbia
Canada
4 Team Members

A Community Poisoned and Now Starving:

“This is a crisis for the community. Children and elders are going hungry. Freezers which are usually full this time of year are empty.” (Vi Waghiyi, Native Village of Savoonga tribal member and Environmental Health and Justice Program Director, Alaska Community Action on Toxics)

40 miles from Russia in the Bering Sea there is an urgent food crisis caused by climate change for two small indigenous communities who have already battled decades of serious toxic contamination. 

On St Lawrence Island, Alaska in the Bering Sea the indigenous Yupik people face catastrophe. The Yupik people there depend on traditional foods for our survival. For many thousands of years they have been able to live in balance with nature, hunting and fishing for primary foods which provide physical, spiritual, and cultural sustenance.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4v5EcCUd7Jg#t=1... foods are in crisis due to climate change.

However these people also suffer from contamination of their environment. When the military vacated Northeast Cape in the early 1970s, they left at least thirty-four contaminated sites in a nine-square-mile area. Contamination includes at least 220,000 gallons of spilt fuel, as well as heavy metals, asbestos, solvents, and PCBs which are known to cause cancer. One of several barrel dumps in the area contained over 29,500 buried drums. There were also buildings and other structures, as well as large bales of copper wire, which had trapped and killed reindeer by starvation.In a study of 120 people on the island, testing found polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at levels four to eight times higher than average U.S. levels, said Dr. David Carpenter, director of the University of Albany at New York's Institute for Health and the Environment. These people are facing an intergenerational contamination crisis and now have a food crisis as well.

The impacts of climate change are much more intense and severe in the Arctic and have contributed to create a severe food shortages for the St. Lawrence communities of Gambell and Savoonga as the long winter rapidly approaches.  The size and severity of storms has increased and stable sea ice has decreased, making it much more dangerous to conduct traditional fishing and hunting activities. 

Adverse spring weather conditions this year led to a disastrous walrus hunt. The walrus harvest is essential to the continued cultural, nutritional, economic, food security, and spiritual well-being of St. Lawrence Island’s Yupik people. 

This year’s harvest was 64 percent lower than the last 10-year average, prompting the Native Villages of Savoonga and Gambell to call for a declaration of economic disaster which Alaska Governor Parnell granted on August 29, 2013.

The people of St. Lawrence Island have asked the state and federal governments for help. No immediate assistance has been provided.

The goal of this project is to help most of the families on St. Lawrence Island make it through the worst part of winter. 

With Your Support They Can Last Till Spring:

If the Yupik communities on St. Lawrence Island can raise $35,000 by December 1st, they can help most of the families on St. Lawrence Island make it through the worst part of winter. The goal of this project is to rase one quarter (1/4) of that amount or $8750.

In return for your generous support indigenous Yupik artists from St. Lawrence Island will be providing hand crafted traditional art to honor donors as a token of their appreciation.

The non-profit NGO "Alaska Community Action on Toxics"  has set up a system to receive money and to make sure that healthy foods are purchased and taken to St Lawrence Island for direct distribution to families. They are doing this with no overhead costs and are currently working to secure free shipping to the Island.  

All funds collected will be paid directly to the non-profit NGO "Alaska Community Action on Toxics" in care of their accountant Holly Kent for the purposes of this project.

While the overall goal is to raise $35,000 all of the monies collected will be used to buy nutritious healthy food for the community on December 1st, 2013 and shipped to St. Lawrence Island in order to arrive by Christmas.

Help A Community Survive:

The Yupik communities on St. Lawrence Island have withstood military occupation, contamination and now face climate change.  With your help they can withstand the worst hunting season in living memory...  

These are people on the front lines of climate change who have been contaminated by PCBs and other chemicals.  These are indigenous people at the intersection of two types of environmental injustice.

By supporting this project you support a sustainable community and a beautiful culture on the brink of oblivion in the high Arctic.

Share/Like/Reflect/Witness:

If you can't donate please share this.  Like this.  Genuinely.  Reflect on this.  Spread the word about what is happening up there through your network, be it social media, your family, your friends or your co-workers.  

These people are on the front lines of climate change and environmental justice issues and suffer because others refuse to act.

Find This Campaign On
$1,735USD
raised in 19 days
20% funded
No time left
Verified Nonprofit
$8,750 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on November 11, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $50USD
    Signed Yupik Postcard

    Yupik artists from the indigenous communities of Savoonga and Gambell are creating 10 custom postcards to be signed by community members for donors at this level as a token of their appreciation for their contribution.

    4 out of 10 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • $200USD
    Yupik Carving

    The Yupik artists of Savoonga and Gambell will be creating 15 unique carvings for donors at this level. They will be using traditional styles and materials from their environment for these one-of-a-kind pieces.

    5 out of 7 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • $1,500USD
    Large Yupik Carving

    The Yupik artists of Savoonga and Gambell have agreed to create 3 large art pieces for those donors who contribute significantly to this project. Again traditional styles and materials will be used and each piece will be individually unique and signed by the Yupik artist.

    0 out of 3 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
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