Indigenous students in Montreal prepare for climate strike with Mohawk teachings

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to march in the streets of Montreal Friday to demand action on climate change.

Tewehnitaneken Rice will be there. The Dawson College student and Mohawk from Kahnawake is encouraging others to be part of the historic climate strike event.

“You don’t want to be, one day when you’re like 50 years old and your grandkids are asking you, ‘Hey, were you a part of the march to help save the world?’ And you’ll be like, ‘Nah. I was on my couch playing video games,'” Rice said.

The march, started by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg as part of the 16-year-old’s #FridaysForFuture campaign, has mobilized youth around the world, who are skipping school on Fridays to demand action from political leaders.

Thunberg will join the Montreal event Friday, where Indigenous youth have already been preparing for the march.

Aronhiaies Herne of Akwesasne was at Dawson College to teach staff and students about the white pine, and the lesson it holds for today.

He said the planting of the white pine nearly 900 years ago united the five original Haudenosaunee nations — and that if that unification was possible then so is global collaboration to address climate change.

Rice said Mohawk teachings offer insight into how the world can come together to address the crisis.

He thinks the Mohawk tradition of giving thanks to all living things before gatherings, known as the ‘Words Before All Else,’ could inspire others to live greener.

“So anybody who learns, just even the basic form of thanksgiving, or anything, the words before all else — it helps build that relationship and that connection you’ll have with that natural world.”