On September 27, Michelle and I packed our bags and set off to the Assembly of First Nations 2nd annual Gathering for Climate Change. The gathering was generously hosted by the Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet), on unceded lands now known as Fredericton, New Brunswick. The topic of the gathering felt particularly poignant given the recent passing of Hurricane Fiona. Though Fredericton was not directly hit, the effects of Fiona were felt in the stories we heard and in the absent voices of those whose travel was affected. The presence of climate change hung heavy throughout the conference as we listened to storytellers speak of empty hunting grounds, dried up riverbeds, and water levels too low for ceremony. In these stories, the interconnectedness of colonialism, capitalism, and climate change rang loud and clear. Though these stories were weighted with mourning and grief, they were also charged with resistance, joy, and hope.
Indigenous Rights must be at the forefront of Climate Solutions.— Rebecca Rogerson, Community Program Manager, Climate Innovation
On the second day of the conference, Michelle and I presented a project that the Climate Innovation team has been working on in partnership with British Columbia Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN), a capacity building toolkit designed to support Nations interested in pursuing Natural Climate Solutions. The response to our presentation was rich and reflective of the broader conversation surrounding Natural Climate Solutions, particularly carbon offsets. There was interest in how these projects can serve as a mechanism for protecting sacred landscapes and generating revenue. There was also concern about Natural Climate Solutions being false solutions that further colonial agendas and enable polluters. My time spent working with the Climate Innovation team at Ecotrust Canada has taught me that a core part of this job is working within these tensions, holding them all as true and navigating a path forward in a good way. The conversations left me with a renewed understanding of the importance of the tools being developed at Ecotrust Canada. A connecting theme at the conference was that Indigenous Rights must be at the forefront of Climate Solutions — and we agree. It not only supports communities interested in high integrity projects, but it also works to shape the emerging landscape of Natural Climate Solutions in a way that bolsters Indigenous Rights and access to land.
The conference ended with Elder and Knowledge Keeper Dr. Maggie Paul leading us in song and dance. We held hands and moved around the room as a collective, laughing, singing, and dancing. The room was filled with the same joy and hope that was weaved throughout the conference, and it served as a reminder of the future we are fighting for.
By Rebecca Rogerson, Community Program Manager, Climate Innovation
[Published Oct. 17, 2022]