March 4, 2020
(Whitehorse, YT) – The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) hosted a successful National Climate Gathering in Whitehorse, YT, that brought together over 380 First Nations leaders, Elders, women and youth to discuss First Nations-led solutions to address the Climate Crisis.
“First Nations from across the country are showing their commitment to action on the greatest challenge of our time – climate destruction. The scope of this meeting in the range of participants and the topics discussed was unprecedented. We are the original stewards of the land and must be full partners in developing and implementing Canada’s climate plan. We have sacred responsibilities to care for and maintain our traditional territories and we have rights as First Nations that must be respected. Our traditional knowledge and insight are essential in the fight to heal Mother Earth,” National Chief Perry Bellegarde said.
AFN Yukon Regional Chief Kluane Adamek welcomed delegates to the territory and spoke about the need to use a First Nations Climate Lens to address the crisis.
“We need to look at climate change with a holistic perspective and the understanding that everything is interconnected. From health to housing to the economy, it is all connected to Mother Earth and climate,” Regional Chief Adamek said. “The north is experiencing the effects of the Climate Crisis at a rate two to three times greater than any other region in Canada. The north continues to show leadership on Climate Action and recently gathered to formalize a Yukon First Nations Climate Declaration that outlined a path forward. First Nations must be seen as the leaders in finding solutions and moving to green energy solutions. We will continue to come together amongst our nations, regionally and nationally, to discuss these innovative solutions and set the path moving forward. There needs to be a massive shift in the way we live if we want to save our planet for our future generations. This leadership was shown by committing to plant a culturally relevant tree for all 380 participants at the Gathering to offset the carbon footprint of the event.”
The AFN’s National Climate Gathering included a meeting of the AFN Youth Council and other young people. Rosalie LaBillois is the female co-chair of the AFN Youth Council, and she spoke strongly about the positive and effective action coming out of the Gathering: “It was great to hear all the ideas and possible solutions from young First Nations people from across the country. But it is also obvious that they are very concerned, even scared, of what the future holds. It is time for all leaders, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to do the work necessary to ensure our children can still go out on the land and hunt and pick berries and enjoy the waterways and do all the things that make us First Nations people. The youth are saying that now is the time to act. We will be watching the older generations and hoping they will take immediate action to address the changes happening to our Mother Earth.”
The AFN will be compiling the information, solutions and best practices collected at the National Climate Gathering and making it available at www.afn.ca
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
For more information please contact:
Senior Communication Advisor
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 244
Bilingual Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 382