Reciprocity and Resilience: The Gwich’in Influence on TEAM’s Sustainable Practices

The Gwich’in people are indigenous to the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of Alaska, Canada, and Yukon.

Known for their deep connection to the land, the Gwich’in have lived sustainably in harmony with their environment for thousands of years. Their way of life and cultural practices are built on the principles of reciprocity, respect, and resilience, which guide their relationship with nature.

At TEAM Group, we believe that genuine success is achieved through harmonizing our operations with the environment, addressing our clients’ needs, and ensuring the well-being of our communities. Our commitment to sustainability shapes our approach to facility services, distinguishing us as leaders in the support services industry for a more sustainable world. This commitment is deeply inspired by the Arctic’s enduring spirit and the resilience of the Gwich’in people.

Indigenous Approach to Sustainability: Inspired by the Gwich’in People

The Gwich’in people provide a profound example of sustainable living that deeply influences our ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) initiatives this year. Their approach to sustainability is rooted in a profound respect for the environment and a holistic understanding of the interconnectedness of all life forms. This perspective aligns closely with the fundamental principles of sustainability, emphasizing the balance between human needs and the health of the ecosystem.

the Gwich’in People and Their Values

Reciprocity and Respect

The Gwich’in people believe in a reciprocal relationship with nature. This means taking only what is needed and giving back to the environment in ways that support its health and continuity. This practice ensures the sustainability of resources for future generations and reflects a profound respect for all living things.

Resilience and Adaptation

Living in one of the harshest environments on Earth, the Gwich’in have developed remarkable resilience. They have adapted to the changing conditions of the Arctic, relying on their deep knowledge of the land and its ecosystems. This resilience is not just about survival but thriving in harmony with the natural world

Community and Collaboration

The Gwich’in emphasize the importance of community and working together for the common good. Their social structure is based on collaboration and shared responsibility, ensuring that everyone contributes to and benefits from the collective effort. This sense of community extends to their relationship with nature, where every action is considered in the context of its impact on the environment and future generations.

Interconnectedness and Balance

Acknowledging the deep interconnectedness of all living beings, the Gwich’in understand that the health of one species affects the health of the entire ecosystem. This belief guides their actions and ensures that their practices support the delicate balance of their environment.

Stewardship and Sustainability

The Gwich’in practice careful resource management, taking only what is needed for sustenance. They ensure that their use of natural resources does not exceed the ecosystem’s capacity to regenerate. This minimizes waste and prevents the depletion of resources, reflecting their commitment to sustainability.

Preservation and Responsibility

With a profound cultural connection to their land, the Gwich’in shape their environmental practices based on this relationship. This connection instills a sense of responsibility to protect and preserve their environment for future generations. Their cultural heritage and environmental stewardship are deeply intertwined, ensuring the continuity of both.


5 Fun Facts About Gwich’in Resilience in Climate Change

1.Ancient Hunting Traditions:
The Gwich’in people have a rich tradition of hunting caribou, which has been a central part of their culture for thousands of years. The Porcupine Caribou Herd is not only a vital food source but also integral to their cultural identity. Despite climate change affecting caribou migration patterns, the Gwich’in have adapted their hunting practices to ensure the sustainability of this essential resource.

2.Innovative Use of Natural Resources:
The Gwich’in are masters of using natural resources efficiently. They utilize every part of the animals they hunt, from the meat for food to the hides for clothing and shelter. This holistic approach minimizes waste and showcases their deep respect for the environment, embodying principles of sustainability long before it became a global concern.

3.Traditional Ecological Knowledge:
The Gwich’in possess extensive traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), which includes an intricate understanding of local wildlife, weather patterns, and ecological changes. This knowledge has been passed down through generations and is crucial in helping the community adapt to the rapid environmental changes brought about by climate change.

4.Cultural Festivals and Storytelling:
The Gwich’in celebrate their heritage through vibrant cultural festivals and storytelling. These gatherings are not only a way to preserve their history and traditions but also an opportunity to educate younger generations about the importance of protecting their environment. Stories often emphasize the interconnectedness of all life and the need for harmony with nature.

5.Advocacy and Leadership in Climate Action:
The Gwich’in have become prominent advocates for climate action, particularly in the fight to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) from oil drilling. They have taken their cause to national and international platforms, highlighting the impact of climate change on their homeland and the urgent need for sustainable policies. Their leadership in environmental advocacy demonstrates their resilience and commitment to preserving their way of life.

“In our way of life, everything is connected. We have a responsibility to protect the land, the water, and the animals because they are not just resources to be used, they are our relatives. Climate change threatens our very existence, but we endure by holding fast to our traditions and advocating for the protection of our sacred lands.”

– Bernadette Demientieff, Executive Director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee


How the Gwich’in Thrive on the Frontlines of Climate Change

  • Adaptive Practices: The Gwich’in adapt their traditional practices, such as hunting, fishing, and foraging, to cope with environmental changes.
  • Community Resilience: Strong community bonds and collective problem-solving help the Gwich’in navigate climate challenges by sharing resources, knowledge, and support.
  • Environmental Stewardship: They engage in activities like monitoring wildlife, advocating for conservation, and participating in reforestation, believing a healthy environment is essential for survival.
  • Education and Advocacy: The Gwich’in educate others on climate change impacts and advocate for policy changes, raising awareness and driving action at all levels.
  • Cultural Preservation: They remain dedicated to preserving their cultural heritage, practicing and teaching traditional ways to ensure future generations live in harmony with the land.

TEAM Group’s Commitment to Sustainability

Inspired by the Gwich’in values of reciprocity, respect, resilience, and community, TEAM Group is dedicated to fostering harmony and balance in all our endeavors. Our sustainability journey is not merely a corporate initiative but an acknowledgment of our responsibility to the planet and its inhabitants. Here’s how we embody these principles in our operations and services.

Harmonizing Operations with the Environment
Just as the Gwich’in people live in reciprocity with nature, TEAM Group strives to minimize our environmental footprint and contribute positively to the ecosystems we operate in. Our comprehensive environmental sustainability management (ESM) solutions are designed to reduce waste, optimize resource use, and promote renewable energy.

Waste Reduction and Recycling
We implement rigorous waste reduction and recycling programs across all our facilities. By analyzing waste streams and identifying opportunities for improvement, we minimize landfill waste and maximize the reuse and recycling of materials. This approach not only reduces environmental impact but also aligns with the Gwich’in principle of taking only what is needed and ensuring nothing goes to waste.

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Energy efficiency is a cornerstone of our sustainability strategy. We conduct energy audits to identify inefficiencies and implement solutions that reduce energy consumption. Additionally, we encourage our clients to adopt renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, to power their operations. This shift towards clean energy reflects our commitment to reducing carbon emissions and preserving natural resources.

Meeting Clients’ Needs with Sustainable Solutions
Our clients are increasingly seeking sustainable solutions, and TEAM Group is at the forefront of delivering innovative services that meet these demands. We provide specialized facility management and industrial cleaning services that prioritize environmental sustainability without compromising on quality or efficiency.

Eco-friendly Cleaning Practices
We use eco-friendly cleaning products and practices that reduce harmful chemicals’ impact on the environment. Our technical cleaning and field services are designed to maintain high standards of cleanliness while protecting the health of our clients, employees, and the ecosystems we work in. This approach ensures that our operations are both effective and environmentally responsible.

Sustainable Facility Management
Our facility management services incorporate sustainability into every aspect of operations. From energy-efficient building systems to sustainable landscaping and water conservation, we help our clients achieve their sustainability goals. By integrating sustainable practices into facility management, we create healthier, more efficient, and environmentally-friendly workspaces.

Ensuring Community Well-being
Inspired by the Gwich’in emphasis on community and collaboration, TEAM Group is committed to the well-being of the communities we serve. We believe that true sustainability includes social responsibility, and we work to create positive impacts through our operations and outreach programs.

Employee Engagement and Training
Our employees are the heart of our sustainability efforts. We provide comprehensive training on sustainable practices and encourage employee involvement in our sustainability initiatives. By fostering a culture of sustainability within our workforce, we ensure that our values are reflected in every aspect of our operations.

Innovating for a Sustainable Future
While the Gwich’in maintain their traditional ways, they also embrace modern technology to support their lifestyle and advocacy efforts. GPS technology helps track caribou herds, drones are used for environmental monitoring, and social media platforms amplify their voices in the fight against climate change and resource exploitation. The resilience and adaptability of the Gwich’in people inspire us to continuously innovate and seek new ways to enhance our sustainability efforts. TEAM Group is dedicated to staying at the forefront of technological advancements and industry best practices that support our sustainability goals.

Embracing Technological Advancements
We leverage the latest technologies to improve efficiency and reduce environmental impact. From advanced energy management systems to innovative cleaning technologies, we are committed to integrating cutting-edge solutions that drive sustainability. Our focus on technology ensures that we remain adaptable and resilient in the face of changing environmental and industry conditions.

Sustainability is a journey, not a destination.


Continuous Improvement and Learning

We are committed to continuous improvement and learning, regularly reviewing and updating our practices to ensure they meet the highest sustainability standards. By staying informed about emerging trends and best practices, we can proactively address challenges and seize opportunities to enhance our sustainability efforts.

TEAM Group’s commitment to sustainability is deeply rooted in the values and lessons inspired by the Arctic and the Gwich’in people . By embracing reciprocity, respect, resilience, and community, we harmonize our operations with the environment, meet our clients’ needs with sustainable solutions, and ensure the well-being of the communities we serve.

As we continue our journey towards a more sustainable future, we remain dedicated to innovation and continuous improvement, inspired by the enduring spirit of the Arctic and the wisdom of the Gwich’in people. Through our unwavering commitment, we strive to lead the facility management and industrial cleaning industry towards a more sustainable and harmonious world.