Indigenous communities impacted by climate change first, contribute to it the least: report

A new report by Indigenous Climate Action says that while First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities are first to be impacted by climate change, they also contribute to it the least.

“Climate change is happening now and it’s happening to Indigenous communities first,” Jayce Chiblow told Nation to Nation host Annette Francis.“And they are the worst impacted, but yet we contribute the least to climate change.”

Chiblow is Anishinaabe, from Garden River First Nation in Ontario and the manager of education and training at Indigenous Climate Action.

The report, Decolonizing Climate Policy in Canada, was issued at the beginning of December. Researchers concluded that, “settler-led climate policies are failing. We’ve argued that abundantly in our 2021 Decolonizing Climate Policy Report and The Risks and Threats of Nature-based Climate Solutions Report, also from 2021. They are failing to serve our communities’ needs, and they are failing to address the root causes of the crisis. And they are even failing to reduce carbon pollution in any real way.”

The report said that Indigenous communities had to look elsewhere for “real solutions.”

Chiblow said that’s why it’s important to have Indigenous voices and perspectives at the table when talking about solutions to the climate crisis.

Over the last two weeks, Chiblow has been involved at the 28th meeting of the United Nations’ Conference of the Parties, better known as COP28. Nearly 85,000 delegates from 200 countries travelled to Dubai, United Arab Emirates to discuss the future of the planet. One of the issues was whether countries would agree to phase out the burning of coal and fossil fuels. The language used in the final communique from the meeting didn’t

Chiblow said although it’s exciting to hear for the first time about “transitioning away” from fossil fuels, it isn’t enough.

“I think we need to actually phase out fossil fuels” Chiblow said.

Delivering to the economy

An interim report on the economic benefits from Indigenous communities in Altantic Canada was released on Dec. 13. The study by Atlantic Economic Council was commissioned by the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat. It found that Indigenous peoples contribute billions to the economy in Atlantic Canada.

“Interim report findings estimate Atlantic Indigenous communities and businesses directly generated $6.9 billion in output in 2020, which added $3.6 billion to gross domestic product (GDP), based on preliminary data from Statistics Canada,” said a release from the police congress.

“This spending generated a further $2 billion in GDP across the region, due to supply chain purchases and induced income effects. Indigenous peoples in the Atlantic held 56,000 jobs and their activity sustained a further 27,000 jobs. Overall, the Indigenous economy helped create 5% of the region’s GDP and over 8% of the region’s jobs.”

Chief Robert Gloade of the Millbrook First Nation in Nova Scotia said the contributions from First Nation communities has been significantly increasing year over year.

In spite of the old stereotype that First Nations don’t do their part and are looking for hand-outs, the report revealed that Indigenous people held over 50,000 jobs in the Atlantic region and the number of self-employed Indigenous people has grown at a faster rate than the non-Indigenous population.

“Our fisheries are one of the main contributions to our local economy and our community. We have other areas as well, we have residential development, gaming, we have retail development, and tobacco, but the primary thing is fishing,” said Gloade.

Aboriginal Legal Services

A new partnership between Aboriginal Legal Services (ALS) and a non-profit organization, Make Music Matter (MMM), has resulted in a debut single, “Where is Everyone?”

According to Christa Big Canoe, legal director at ALS, the song is about the loss of an Indigenous woman. She said it was written in collaboration with legal staff from the ALS.

It’s a type of therapy that took them outside of the legal realms and into a music studio.

“We’ve had opportunities to meet with, for example, a punk group, Billy Talent,” she said.

Big Canoe said it’s been a positive experience, but she doesn’t anticipate the song will hit the top of the charts.

“The whole goal of this song was to, you know, spread awareness, to remind people like the song’s title itself, ‘where is everyone?’”

Big Canoe said the ALS received funding to participate in the MMM therapy program. There will be two more rounds of sessions to include up to twenty more staff and community workshops.

The debut single is on every music and video streaming platform, or it can be found on the Aboriginal Legal Services webpage.

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