Since August 2019, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada’s Climate Change and Clean Energy Directorate has partnered with the First Nations Health Authority, Fraser Basin Council, and Naut’sa mawt Tribal Council on supporting an Indigenous delegation to attend the Adaptation Canada 2020 conference in Vancouver on February 19-21, 2020. The conference brought experts and leaders from diverse sectors, regions, and jurisdictions to bring forth solutions to the most important global challenge of our time — how to build climate change resilience in our communities, ecosystems and economy.
Indigenous peoples have been adapting to environmental change for millennia and have a wealth of knowledge to share of how climate has been changing and ways we can adapt. As such, Fraser Basin Council and other partners strived to have a strong Indigenous representation at Adaptation Canada 2020 and encouraged First Nations, Inuit, and Metis groups to submit project abstracts. Some of the abstract themes included: raising awareness of climate impacts, addressing climate change inequalities, strengthening capacity building, showcasing adaptation solutions, and promoting ecological resilience in communities. The call for abstracts was met with a resounding response — over 30 Indigenous presenters were scheduled to present their projects, and over 90 Indigenous delegates attended the conference. This overwhelming response speaks to the growing network of Indigenous adaptation leaders from across Canada who are leading innovative climate change adaptation projects, including a number of youth-led initiatives.
One such example is a group of teenagers from Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories who produced a 22-minute documentary on climate change. The documentary “Happening to us” aired in Chile in December 2019 at the 2019 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. A few youth from the community had the opportunity to travel to Chile. Indigenous delegates attending the conference were fortunate to see a screening of the documentary.
Indigenous delegates were also invited to participate to a networking event one day prior to the beginning of the conference. The purpose of the gathering was to provide a space where Indigenous peoples could network with one another and learn more about what other participants are doing to address climate change in their respective communities. The conference also hosted an Indigenous gathering space at the conference venue. This space was available to Indigenous participants to gather, reflect, share, network, practice and celebrate their cultures and traditions throughout their time at the conference. Two Elders were on-site to provide council, support and general assistance during the conference.