What are examples of Indigenous Climate Action?
We are often asked, "What does Indigenous Climate Action mean and look like?" or, "What are some examples of how Indigenous Peoples are taking action on Climate change?"
Many communities have been engaged in climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies without knowing it, or long before it was of interest to the global community. These community initiatives are rooted in cultural preservation and resiliency that grow from a relationship with the living ecosystem. Indigenous communities and people not only speak to these intimate relationships with land but also actively exercise connections to cultural identities and cosmologies in modern practices. Indigenous people are already engaged in biodiversity management, water protection and preservation, community-based monitoring and guardian programs and have been actively challenging development projects that threaten the tenants of their identity and are cumulatively contributing to rising GHG levels.
As Indigenous Climate Action we believe it is important to showcase stories of communities within our network who are actively engaging in these practices. We believe that climate mitigation and adaptation happens through a diversity of community projects and commit to respecting this diversity in our profiling.
Indigenous Communities in Action
Louis Bull First Nations, Maskwacis Nation, Treaty 6 Territory
Louis Bull Solar Panel Project
First Nations communities in Alberta are actively seeking alternatives to an economy that is reliant on extractive industries. Not only is it important to seek alternatives in a rapidly warming climate, but it is also vital that First Nations communities take control over local economies to ensure stability and resource sustainability. This is exactly what the Louis Bull First Nations has begun, “We saw the need for responsible and safe cultivation of energy for our growing needs and wanted to create an opportunity for our community Louis Bull to truly lead the way in environmental sustainability” said Desmond Bull member of the Louis Bull Nation.
Louis Bull First nations are one of the four communities that make up Maskwacis First Nations. They are located in central Alberta approximately 90 km’s southeast of Edmonton. The community has close to 2,000 registered band members. Louis Bull has built a successful solar project for their community and are active in the growing movement for Indigenous communities to align western worldviews with Indigenous knowledge while initiating a transition in economic values.
The planning for this project began in the fall of 2013 and over the following three year period, the project worked through the necessary stages to bring this vision to life. These projects included training local community members in education, installation, and maintenance of the solar project. Community members had the opportunity to become involved with the project through the open information sessions and an environmental conference hosted during the project planning. Desmond expresses further, “It was important to include community members throughout the process of these projects because these systems are projected to last over half a century which allows generations' of my community to see these systems in action.” Indigenous communities take a unique approach to clean energy projects and emphasize the positive effects these investments will have for several generations to come. A practice of thinking seven generations ahead that is intrinsic in Indigenous worldviews, linking today's actions to tomorrow's survival.
Louis Bull solar project is a series of four separate solar panel installations. Three of the four installations can be found on the roof of a local community building. These sites range in size from the smallest which generates 11,000 kWh’s per year on average to the largest which generates 44,000 kWh’s per year on average. In total all four projects deliver 93,600 kWh’s per year on average which is approximately 2,668 gallons (10,099L) of gasoline. This is estimated to save the community $7,582 per year on electricity if the micro-generator is paying $.08/cents per kWh for electricity purchased.
These projects remove the use of gas products for energy and replace them with a cleaner source. Desmond says, “This paired with the economic stability that accompanies a clean energy project is an exciting transition towards energy and environmental sovereignty, we can diversify how we cultivate energy by using substitutes for ethanol products.” In a challenging and uncertain era of climate justice Louis Bull has effectively taken it upon themselves to demonstrate their responsibilities as caretakers of their traditional ancestral territories. Leaving a lasting impression that follows respectful practices of reciprocity and stewardship.
At this time Louis bull may be seeking investors for a macro grid system that will service their future casino energy needs, highway 2 commercial development, and supply energy for membership and neighboring areas. Investors could include: First nations', industry, counties, municipalities, private investors and selling public shares a on the market.
For further information contact:
Mi'kmaq/Sipekne'katik First Nation, Mi'kmaki
Indigenous communities are not only active in promoting alternatives to destructive economies but are continuously found at the forefronts of opposition to the expansion of industries that are reliant on resource extraction. Found on the East coast of Turtle Islands near the Shubencadie River in Nova Scotia the Mi’kmaq people are currently active in protecting their traditional territories and values while advocating to preserve a valued source or water, fishing resource, and historical trade route.
Sipekne’katik First Nations (Indian Brook), which in Mi’kmaq means, “where the wild potatoes grow,” reside on their traditional territory near Shubencadie, Nova Scotia approximately 68 km’s from Halifax. The community is one of 13 First Nations located in Nova Scotia and is the second largest Mi’kmaq band with slightly over 2,500 registered members.
The resistance camp was set up, by form of building a “Treaty Truck house”, near the Alton Gas brine dumping site by Mi’kmaq opponents of the Alton Gas project and non-Indigenous allies. “This truckhouse has become the gathering point for the resistance and is one way that Mi’kmaq water protectors constantly exercise and demonstrate their treaty rights.”
Alton Gas proposes to create two salt caverns in the near future in order to store natural gas underground, with the expressed intention to build up to approximately 13- 17 more unconventional salt caverns about 1km deep. These salt caverns would create large quantities of highly concentrated salt brine which the company plans on “flushing” into the Shubenacadie River for disposal resulting from their mining. At full operation, Alton gas will be releasing approx. 10,000m3 of brine (3,170 tonnes of hard salt) into the river system each day. The creation of a pipeline will almost immediately follow the development of these salt caverns to transport high-pressure natural gas. Ultimately these proposals seek the approval of expanding the natural gas industry and placing large sources of water at further risk of irreversible contamination.
Alton Gas Storage LP and the Nova Scotia government failed to adequately consult local Mi’kmaq communities about their intentions to expand the development and in doing so violated Mi'kmaq rights as outlined in the 1752 Peace and Friendship Treaty along side traditional rights handed down since time immemorial. The truck house camp signifies an integral and active peace of Mi'kmaq culture to continue living off of the land in a manner that is connected and sustainable. While the Sipekne'katik First Nation's tirelessly confront industrial colonized expansion in a strenuous legal court showdown, land and water protectors stay active in defending their access to clean drinking water, air, and climate through physical presence on their territory. A story that many Indigenous Nations across Turtle Islands and the globe know all too well.
Sources: Stop Alton Gas- Wordpress
For further information contact:
Dorene Bernard, Mi'kmaq Grassroots Grandmother
Treaty Truck House and Treaty Camp, Shubenacadie River, Stewiacke
Haida Gwaii – a remote archipelago in the Pacific Northwest – is the unceded territory of the Haida. The land and sea have been occupied for millennia and before colonization, the Indigenous Haida population numbered in the tens-of-thousands living throughout the Islands. Today, Haida Gwaii is home to just under 4,500 and approximately half are of Haida descent.
The Islands are a place of political leadership and environmental stewardship. More than 50% of the land is “protected” or under co-management agreements with the Haida nation and provincial and or federal governments. Recently, Haida Gwaii celebrated the defeat of two major fossil fuel projects, Enbridge Northern Gateway and Petronas Pacific Northwest LNG. These oil and gas projects would have resulted in hundreds of massive supertankers transporting dangerous hydrocarbons through Haida territory. In addition to these environmental and political wins, Haida Gwaii has now set sights on becoming energy sovereign.
A local citizen-action group, Swiilawiid Sustainability Society, formed last year to breathe life into this vision. Swiilawiid Sustainability Society works to inspire residents to take meaningful action and reduce Haida Gwaii’s collective carbon footprint. The organization’s sole focus at this time is Project 0% Diesel, and the name says it all: Swiilawiid wants to see Haida Gwaii transition from diesel electricity to clean community-owned power. Renewable energy is key to becoming energy sovereign and exhibits serious action on climate change.
One of Swiilawiid’s first initiatives is Solar: A Bright Future. Swiilawiid is preparing to install solar panels at three remote locations in partnership with ReDiscovery Haida Gwaii, Swan Bay Rediscovery, and Mount Moresby Adventure Camp. “This project marks an important and symbolic shift in the transition away from fossil-fuel power,” said Valine Crist, Project Coordinator with Swiilawiid.
Ms Crist further described the significance of this project, “I went to ReDiscovery Haida Gwaii at Lepas Bay when I was a teenager, it’s adjacent to my ancestral village at K’yuustaa. It was so transformative to be out on the land, living off-grid and learning our old lifeways and laws. I know how positive and impactful these camps are for our youth and they will be even more profound when they are solar powered.”
Each of the three remote camps are in unique locations around Haida Gwaii and offer an important opportunity for kids to disconnect from modern amenities. They all foster a meaningful connection with this wild and beautiful place and all camps are founded in yah’guudang.
“Swan Bay Rediscovery is dedicated to helping young people to learn about the Haida Stewardship laws that are founded in the cultural concept of Yah’guudang—respect for all things, and all things are connected and depend upon each other. This requires caring for the land and sea and not wasting. The solar panels will provide an opportunity to add renewable energy curriculum to the camp sessions,” stated April Churchill, Swan Bay Rediscovery Manager.
The solar installations demonstrate Haida Gwaii’s commitment to work towards a renewable and environmentally sustainable future. Solar: A Bright Future will inspire the next generation of land stewards and climate leaders.
Learn more at: swiilawiid.org
Contact Swiilawiid at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Haida Gwaii, Haida
"Project 0% Diesel" -
Swiilawiid Sustainability Society