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We must secure our rightful place in climate change talks

We must secure our rightful place in climate change talks

TORONTO – As the Prime Minister and Premiers meet today in advance of attending the Paris Climate Change Conference, it is imperative that First Nation governments be included now in Canada’s united approach for protecting our lands and our planet for future generations. We all know, and are experiencing the threat of climate change and

TORONTO – As the Prime Minister and Premiers meet today in advance of attending the Paris Climate Change Conference, it is imperative that First Nation governments be included now in Canada’s united approach for protecting our lands and our planet for future generations. We all know, and are experiencing the threat of climate change and global warming. Because these impacts are being felt by our people, in our treaty and traditional lands, we should be the ones who are thoroughly consulted. Consistent with Canada’s international commitments, First Nations want to move forward on a consensual basis with Canada and Ontario to fight climate change.

In Ontario, the boreal forests generate oxygen for the world. Our lakes and rivers provide fresh water from the James Bay lowlands to the Great Lakes. Indigenous peoples are the stewards and protectors of the land. Like all Indigenous peoples around the world, we are the original environmentalists and conservationists. If current trends continue, it is estimated 30 million Indigenous peoples will lose their livelihoods due to global warming by 2030.

We must close the “decision-makers loop” by bringing in First Nations governments to help create effective climate change policy. We are ready to save our lands and ways of life for our children and the next generation.

Our Peoples in the north are all too aware that warmer winters have already negatively impacted their livelihoods, particularly hunting and fishing. Many communities also depend upon winter roads for food and materials. Shorter seasons have resulted in sometimes severe shortages that have only worsened the decades-long crisis of poverty and despair. Spring flooding continues to displace our peoples and disrupts any attempts at creating healthy, sustainable communities. These costs highlight why First Nations must be at the table.

First Nations in Ontario are the caretakers of the Great Lakes ecosystems. This important basin holds 21% of the earth’s fresh water. The lakes form the backbone of an economic region home to 60 million people and have notable impacts on the health of all those living near their shores.

First Nations and Ontario have a new Political Accord, while the federal government is committed and mandated to fully engage our Peoples. As we prepare for action as global citizens, we must remember our treaty obligations by working together, Nation-to-Nation. Canada is back on the world stage at a time when the future survival of our lands and our waters is at stake; in fact, humanity hangs in the balance – exclusion has no place in Climate Change policy. Let’s ensure that Indigenous voices are included. Let’s work together to preserve the planet for future generations.

On behalf of First Nations in Ontario and our children’s children, I insist that Canada and the provinces work with us on climate change policy and strategies toward adaptation and the survival of the human race. Ontario First Nations are ready for nation-to-nation dialogue.

-Isadore Day

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