Aboriginal Peoples Declare Canada’s UN Statement on Climate Change a Grave Disappointment
For Immediate Release
April 23, 2008
UNITED NATIONS, NY – The statement delivered by the Canadian government yesterday to the United Nations Permanent Forum (UNPFII) on Indigenous Issues was a grave disappointment to the Indigenous representatives attending the UNPFII’s special session on climate change because “it does not address Indigenous Peoples’ rights, needs and priorities in real climate change solutions,” according to Indigenous Environmental Network director Tom Goldtooth.Other groups represented include the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), Confederacy of Treaty 6 First Nations, the International Indian Treaty Council, the Indigenous Network on the Environment and Trade, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and the British Colombia First Nations Leadership Council.
“What the statement shows is how little the government cares to deal with climate change’s effects or stopping climate change. They announced their plan to reduce 2006 greenhouse gas levels by 20% in 2020, but this is too little too late, and will only mean further devastation to our peoples,” said Ben Powless (Mohawk) of the Indigenous Environmental Network.
Current impacts on First Nations communities were also left out. Grand Chief Edward John (Carrier Sekani) of the BC First Nations Leadership Council stated, “Canada is ignoring the devastating impacts of the mountain pine beetle on the lands, territories and resources of First Nations in BC.” “Canada has stated that it is committed with us on climate change, so we call upon Canada to ensure the full participation of Indigenous Peoples in all domestic and international climate change discussions, initiatives and negotiations,” concurred AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine.
Also evident was Canada’s unilateral approach of dealing with Indigenous Peoples after they begin to have problems. “Canada is happy to pour more and more money into studying us and how we adapt to climate change, but not with addressing environmental issues at their source,” stated Beverley Jacobs, President, NWAC. “They are now telling us they take traditional knowledge seriously, but that they would never consider implementing it themselves. These continued, seriously misguided federal policies are going to be the death of us,” warned Arthur Manuel (Secwepmc) of the Indigenous Network on the Environment and Trade.
This comes after dramatic action was called for by Indigenous participants attending the forum. A representative of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug Nation made a presentation to the forum attesting to the fact that her community’s elected leadership had been jailed for opposition to destructive mining in their community. Elected representatives of Aboriginal communities surrounding the Tar Sands were also attending to detest the destructive practices upsetting their homelands.
For more information please contact:
Joshua Kirkey, Native Women’s Association of Canada: (613) 722-3033 X 231
Gina Cosentino, Assembly of First Nations: (613) 241-6789 X 356
Grand Chief Edward John: (778) 772-8218
Arthur Manuel: (250) 319-0688
The Permanent Forum is meeting from April 21 to May 2, 2008 at the UN in New York. This is its 7th session since starting in 2002. This year the forum was opened by Bolivian President Evo Morales. For more information please visit: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/index.html