MNO hosts successful virtual Climate Change Youth Forum
March 21, 2023
If the conversations emerging from last month’s Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Climate Change Youth Forum are any indication when it comes to the future of the MNO — and the planet — Métis youth are a true force of nature.
On February 18, the MNO’s Land, Resources and Consultations (LRC) branch partnered with the MNO Youth Council (MNOYC) to hold a virtual Climate Change Forum, inviting Métis youth (ages six-29) to participate in discussions and workshops on climate change and its impacts. Separated into two age-appropriate sessions, the forum provided those aged 6-12 with the basics of climate change, and a more nuanced discussion of its far-reaching impacts and opportunities for engagement with youth ages 13-29.
Discussions were not limited to scientific and technical knowledge-sharing on the subject, but also considered its various intersections with areas like mental health, education, activism and policy.
Leadership in attendance included MNOYC President Jordyn Playne, PCMNO Post-Secondary Rep Hannah Bazinet, and MNO President Margaret Froh, who provided opening remarks.
“This is a fundamental issue as we talk about being a self-determined people, as a people whose identity is so closely tied to the land and waters,” shared President Froh. “Self-government must include a focus on how we walk gently on this planet and what our roles are as stewards of the lands and waters. I look forward to hearing from youth of proactive things we could be doing within the MNO, at the local community level, across our regional communities and at the province wide level to address this issue and to raise awareness.”
Other discussions examined climate anxiety. Métis youth are keenly aware that climate change not only poses a significant threat to the physical health of our natural environment, but to mental health as well. Presentations from Shared Value Solutions highlighted how youth are particularly vulnerable to climate anxiety, given the complexities and responsibilities they have inherited as youth. Presenters also recommended ways for youth to take action, to be mindful, and to find hope as we navigate the path ahead.
In breakout sessions, youth were challenged to provide their own recommendations for ways the MNO could improve its own policies and advance an eco-friendly agenda. Suggestions included local initiatives such as establishing community gardens, increasing food sovereignty, conservation efforts to protect the bees and wildlife, and offering more land-based programming and workshops.
Providing further inspiration were representatives from Muskrat Collective and Reserva Youth Project, who shared their personal experiences with youth climate activism and grass-roots initiatives. MNO LRC branch also provided an overview of its current initiatives, including water monitoring and tree planting programs, and invited youth to be involved.
A second session was held in the afternoon for Métis youth ages 6-12, which included a presentation from LRC staff on the basics of climate change. Also attending were representatives from the Toronto Zoo who spoke with youth about the importance of biodiversity and species-at-risk.
The success and popularity of the Climate Change Forum shows that Métis youth are asserting themselves as future leaders; participating in critical dialogues ranging from climate change, mental health, education, self-government and more.
The MNO sincerely thanks all those who participated in this year’s forum. To learn of more ways to be involved in climate action, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.