Indigenous youth take the stage at the United Nations
Photo credit: GAC-PRMNY/Turnbull
Across Canada, Indigenous youth are leading the global fight against climate change. In April 2023, Indigenous youth and Elders travelled to New York City as part of Canada's delegation to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). They took part in meaningful conversations and highlighted how they are taking action on climate change in their communities.
Learn more about these climate change champions and their participation in the UNPFII in the photos below.
Elder Claudette Commanda offered a traditional Algonquin Anishinaabe thanksgiving prayer at the morning ceremony. She shared the importance of mutual respect, and coming together to do meaningful work, referencing her grandfather William Commanda's experiences at the United Nations.
Payel Laceese, Tsilhqot'in Cultural Ambassador, played a traditional song to close the Canada-hosted welcome reception.
Canada's Indigenous youth climate change champions drew a crowd, including the Minister of Northern Affairs, Dan Vandal, and Lisa Koperqualuk, President of Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada.
Brian Pottle, Inuit Youth Delegate, stressed the importance of including Indigenous youth in the North at the table: "Attending the UNPFII makes clear the plight of Indigenous Peoples across the globe, and that we are all unified in the goal of bringing to reality an equitable and just world."
Through her work with the Yukon First Nations Climate Action Fellowship, Jennifer Mierau talked about their reconnection vision: "Through the web of reconnection, we must reconnect to our mind, body, and spirit. We need to restore our connection to the land. It's about spinning the web and connecting all these sectors by relearning how we live, learn, and work."
Tracie Léost, Métis Youth Delegate talked about making room to be heard and having the right to voice concerns and contribute to solutions. She reflected on her experience: "If someone told a younger me that one day I would be walking into the UN in New York in moccasins and a ribbon skirt, I don't know if I would have believed them. This was a dream come true for my grandparents and Elders to witness young people take up our rightful place and lead the way to our collective future."
During the Indigenous Youth Roundtable, Sarah Jancke, former co-chair of the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus, spoke with Minister Vandal and Bob Rae, Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations, about supporting Indigenous youth movements: "My vision for youth engagement is to go beyond youth engagement, and into meaningful youth mentorship. I've been considered a "professional" youth for 20 years. Where can we go in the future of international Indigenous rights work? I ask for meaningful and supportive spaces for Indigenous Peoples and youth. We need to be able to continue working at the grassroots level, while also contributing to the international work happening."
Métis Elder Oliver Boulette played the fiddle after opening one of the events with a prayer.
Inuit Elder Piita Irniq spoke about the effects of climate change on the Arctic, and the need for the international community to take meaningful action.
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