November 20, 2016 (Marrakech, MA) – Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) President Francyne Joe continues to represent the voice of First Nations women at the Marrakech Climate Change Conference in Morocco, the site of the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Hosted by Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna, Francyne Joe spoke at Tuesday’s Environment and Climate Change panel Working Together: The Contributions of Indigenous Communities in Canada’s Climate Action. Joe highlighted the role that Indigenous women have historically held as stewards of the land, passing down knowledge to future generations through ceremony and storytelling, and how the Indian Act has threatened these traditions.
As a vulnerable population who are dependent upon a close relationship with the land and the water, she described how indigenous women are the most likely to become “climate refugees” as the results of climate change like flooding deeply impact their communities. Joe suggested that the most immediate contributions necessary include improvements to housing and infrastructure, emergency and contingency planning, and actions for providing food security and clean water.
“Consulting First Nations women before initiating intensive energy development projects such as oil and gas extraction, coal mining, and hydroelectric development is necessary to protect First Nations environments and reduce the risk of violence against women” Joe averred, referencing Amnesty International’s recently published report regarding how the resource extraction economy in northeast British Columbia negatively affects the rights of Indigenous peoples.
This year marked the first Climate Justice Day, a United Nations side event dedicated to recognizing the deep impact of climate change on Indigenous peoples, the relationship between climate change and human rights, and the urgent need for governments to consult with Indigenous communities about these issues.
“As representatives of Indigenous women and girls, NWAC recognizes that climate change is affecting the daily lives of Indigenous women, destroying communities, and forcing peoples to abandon cultural traditions that are so strongly tied to the land, water, plants, and animals,” Joe concluded.
The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies. As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.
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