Indigenous people an 'afterthought' as world leaders gather to confront climate change

Topic(s): Climate Change, Climate Emergency

"Governments of the world don't seem to understand or appreciate the impacts of climate change on Indigenous people." — Hugh Braker, First Nations Summit

A delegation of B.C. First Nations attending the United Nations climate conference in Egypt this week said that even though Indigenous people around the world are on the front lines of climate change, they remain an “afterthought” in government plans to address the crisis.

The delegates, which include leaders of the First Nations Climate Initiative, were invited to present their climate action plan at the Canada Pavilion at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on Tuesday.

The plan includes seven proposals that were presented to the provincial and federal governments in September to help First Nations achieve decarbonization and decolonization.

In a media briefing from Egypt on Wednesday morning, Hugh Braker with the First Nations Summit said Indigenous people around the world stand to lose “their culture, their traditions, their way of life” due to climate change.

Braker said a “catastrophe appears to be descending” and referenced the recent wildfires and flooding in B.C.

“Once again the governments of the world are gathering to talk about climate change,” he said. “Once again the governments of the world don’t seem to understand or appreciate the impacts of climate change on Indigenous people. We seem to be an afterthought at best.”

Braker urged governments to pay more attention to the plight of Indigenous people: “We have nowhere to go. This is our homeland.”

Terry Teegee, regional chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, said securing funding for climate disasters has proven challenging.

“We have a climate change strategy … but the issue of climate change is much more than just a strategy,” he said. “It’s also getting proper resources and capacity to deal with the change of climate, and in particular funding for many of these disasters that we’ve experienced.”

Teegee said he’s pushing for a First Nations climate fund that could help First Nations deal with climate change issues and emergencies.

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