Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde, AFN Yukon Regional Chief Kluane Adamek, and AFN Regional Chief for Quebec and Labrador, Ghislain Picard, will marched with climate activist Greta Thunberg and hundreds of thousands of young people concerned about the future of the planet in Montreal last week.
The National Chief demanded Canada and countries across the globe listen to the youth and take immediate action to address the number one crisis facing this generation. The AFN’s National Youth Council hosted a national environmental Youth Summit in April 2019. The Youth Council, with more than 75 other young emerging leaders, gathered together to make recommendations on climate action.
“We must ensure that our lands, waters, non-human beings, medicines and sacred sites are protected and accessible now and for the seven generations to come,” said female Co-Chair of the AFN Youth Council, Rosalie Labillois. “Canada’s governments must support all youth in developing options for implementing a net-zero carbon emission future including green-infrastructure, technology and innovative solutions in First Nations and across the country.”
Rollin Baldhead, Co-Chair of the AFN Youth Council, said we urgently need to implement fundamental changes in the way we go about our daily lives.
“It is time for our current generation of leaders and politicians to take real and substantial action to stop the climate crisis. If you care about your children’s future, how can you not take action now? We only have one planet. Everything we depend on for life is here. If we destroy Mother Earth, we destroy ourselves. We need everyone on board together to heal our planet. Governments must support youth in developing education and training for local and land-based solutions,” said Baldhead.
Bellegarde insists that all federal party leaders commit to working with First Nations on a national plan to address the climate crisis with specific actions and measurable targets.
“The climate crisis – the climate emergency – is our number one priority. Everything hinges on a livable world and a healthy environment for our children. We must act now to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change and ensure a healthy and positive future for young people, like Greta Thunberg and the AFN Youth Council,” said National Chief Bellegarde.
“First Nations believe we are only borrowing Mother Earth from future generations. It would be unforgivable for our generation to leave the world in a state of extreme uncertainty for those who will inherit it from us. This is an emergency and First Nations, with the incorporation of our traditional knowledge, are the leaders in providing solutions. I was proud to be part of honouring, an amazing Anishinabek youth, Autumn Peltier at our AGA in Fredericton and hearing her powerful message about protecting the water. Every leader of every political party in Canada needs to commit to working with First Nations on a national action plan with specific targets and progress that can be measured and assessed. We need drastic action to avoid global catastrophe,” Bellegarde said in a circulated statement.
Bellegarde said that First Nations are often the first to feel the disproportionate impacts of climate change and must deal with the serious and devastating effects including forest fires, flooding and food insecurity.
Adamek said that the Chiefs in the Yukon, a region among the most significantly impacted by climate change, recently passed a resolution that calls on leadership and Canada to recognize the accelerated impacts of the climate emergency in the north and the need to take immediate action.
“Humanity and our planet cannot wait any longer. Our future cannot be directed by partisanship or politics. We all need to act. The transition to a just future rests in our hands and we are running out of time. First Nations have the solutions and are already implementing them in many communities throughout the country. We need to lift up the work of those advocating for climate action and stand together in this global movement. We are ready to work with all governments in Canada and beyond,” Adamek said.
“Meeting our targets under the Paris Agreement requires a focused and sustained effort but those targets must not be seen as optional or aspirational goals. The Paris Agreement sets out a positive and progressive plan of action. It is the first climate change agreement that commits countries to ambitious climate action, while respecting the rights of Indigenous peoples. The future depends on us. Canada and countries across the globe must act now to stop our world from drastically changing for the worse,” he writes.