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B.C. First Nations leadership unveils strategy to fight climate change

The strategy contains 27 themes, 63 objectives, and 143 strategic actions
A couple are dwarfed by old growth trees as they walk in Avatar Grove near Port Renfrew, B.C., Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The First Nations Leadership Council has unveiled the B.C. First Nations Climate Strategy.

Released on Earth Day, the strategy outlines a vision, priorities and guiding principles for Indigenous-led climate action initiatives that recognize the inherent title, rights and treaty rights of First Nations.

“Humanity and Mother Earth are suffering the consequences of human behaviour. Our ancestral lands, communities, and cultural identity depend on immediate climate action,” Regional Chief Terry Teegee of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations said in a news release.

“The response from the provincial and federal governments is inadequate and insufficient to address the climate emergency and time is running out for incremental or gradual transitions.”

The strategy contains 27 themes, 63 objectives, and 143 strategic actions, plus a series of recommendations for implementation. Nations have been collaborating on the strategy since resolutions were passed in 2019 and 2021 at both the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and the B.C. Assembly of First Nations.

Among the goals of the strategy is a commitment to support reducing GHG emissions to 40-60% by 2030 from 2010 levels and net-zero emissions by 2050, support renewable energy and alternative energy economies and strengthen the participation and leadership of First Nations in a green economy.

The strategy contains 20 urgent calls for climate action, which include the establishment of a B.C. First Nations Climate Council, limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius, creating a. B.C. First Nations Climate Fund to finance green energy projects, identify critical wildlife habitats for restoration and protection, protecting old-growth forests, strengthening emergency management systems and immediately ensuring all First Nations in BC have long-term and reliable access to clean and safe food and water sources both in their homes and within their territories.

“Our very existence as Indigenous peoples and our connection to our lands and culture are under threat,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.

“Nothing short of transformative societal change can prevent the worst of what will happen to communities everywhere if governments around the world continue to enable the driving forces behind the climate crisis. The Strategy is unique because it represents a vision of a newly restored relationship to the Earth that privileges the health and stability of the lands and waters within our territories over the overexploitation of resources. Governments must recognize that this fight cannot be won without solving the inequities that we face daily.”

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