Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation is declaring a state of emergency for their community where the signs of climate change have begun to hit. The declaration was signed on May 19th.
Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm has made the appeal to all branches of government, stating, “Gwich’in wealth is measured in our rivers, in our animals and in our lands being healthy.”
While the incursion of non-local species exacerbates the effects of climate change, harmed further by domestic industry, Tizya-Tramm believes that the problem goes beyond what emergency funds can do for his community.
It’s being touted as a global issue, faced predominantly by Indigenous communities to the north, citing a lack of consultations by governments as “not sufficiently responsive to the dire circumstances.”
Canada’s Changing Climate Report, released back on April 1st has said the north is experiencing the effects of climate change at a faster rate than the rest of the country.
“We’re seeing it in the priming of furs, in the emptying of lakes, in the return of animals, such as, this year, the geese coming before the black ducks, which we hadn’t seen before,” says Chief Tizya-Tramm. “It’s about bringing that to the rest of the community, nationally.”
In this clip, Regional Chief Kluane Adamek claims climate change is a top priority for Yukon’s First Nations in the lead up to the 2019 Canadian federal election.
On July 23, two resolutions were passed unanimously on climate change at the annual general meeting for the Assembly of First Nations in Fredericton.
She acknowledges work has been done in several regions to address the climate change issue, but the Yukon government will be looking for further action from the federal government.
“It’s no longer a ‘crisis,’” says former Chief Cheryl Casimer. “It’s an ‘emergency,’ and we need to make sure we address this matter as such.”
Cheryl Casimer, who serves as co-chair of British Columbia First Nations Summit Task Group, says a need exists for the language on climate change to change.
Also present was Chief Aaron Sumexheltza, of the Lower Nicole Indian Band. As an ardent supporter of protecting the environment, he states, “The Creator gave us the responsibility to take care of our planet, our mother.”
“We can’t wait and wait and wait for non-Indigenous governments to address these issues. We have to do it on our own.”
More than a Liberal Party prop on climate change, AFN Yukon’s Annual Report reflects a disturbing trend for Indigenous consultations, nationwide.
In line with Liberal talking points, the intent of the Fredericton annual meeting seemed to make climate change as significant of an election issue as possible, while effectively silencing dissent.
AFN Yukon’s Annual Report for 2019 parroted many of the federal Liberal’s policy objectives and outcomes – some positive, in ways of the MMIWG inquiry, while others negative – that question AFN Yukon’s role as an organization that uplifts Indigenous voices.
Some of the common questions asked are if it seeks to get out the First Nations’ vote “in an exciting, positive, non-partisan manner” per page 14 of the report, or does it manipulate support for environmentalism in service of a misleading partisan agenda?
According to page 11 of the Report, Bill C-69 includes “the mandatory consideration of Indigenous Knowledge, a necessary assessment of impacts on rights in decision-making; and regulatory opportunities for First Nations governments to lead impact assessments themselves.”
However, several red flags regarding the federal Liberal’s outreach to Indigenous Canadians were raised, particularly on climate change and pipelines.
The Liberal’s blatant hypocrisies on the above issues – depending on where the message is disseminated – partly demonstrates why the Green Party has surged in the polls amongst the environmental crowd.
With the federal Liberal Minister to Natural Resources, Amarjeet Sohi failing to consult pro-resource Cree First Nations in Northern Alberta, genuine desires to fairly represent the diversity of Indigenous perspectives fall short.
It falls short by a long mile.
Failing to account for the many bands in Western Canada who support Trans Mountain pipeline expansion reflects poorly on the Liberal’s 2015 campaign promise at establishing new “nation-to-nation” relations.
In welcoming the tenets of Bill C-69, AFN Yukon Regional Chief Adamek emphasized its promotion of Indigenous rights and environmental sustainability, with the AFN Yukon Region publicly thanking Minister McKenna for her support of the bill by way of a press release.
Chief Adamek recently worked as Executive Assistant to Yukon’s Minister of the Environment, another point of concern for First Nations’ representation, nationwide.