• Indigenous Climate Action

ICA Webinars w/ Indigenous Rising Media & Idle No More

In March, Indigenous Climate Action put together our first webinar related to COVID19, in collaboration with Idle No More and NDN fellows, Waasekom and Jesse Cardinal. Following this, we then put together a series of four webinars with Indigenous Rising Media (a project of Indigenous Environmental Network). These webinars focused on building Indigenous communities of care during COVID19, structured around four themes: Caution, Ceremony, Compassion and Community.

COVID19 and Indigenous Communities

Many Indigenous Peoples are at high risk of contracting COVID19 due to a lack of clean running water, overcrowded housing, and a lack of adequate healthcare. This is not the first time we have been faced with a health crisis, and to get through it will take some Indigen-uity. From traditional medicines to staying safe while on reserve, we brought together some Indigenous health experts on keeping ourselves and our communities healthy during this time.

As Indigenous Peoples, we know that the health of our lands is directly connected to the health of our bodies. Due to the destruction of our lands and territories, we have an increased susceptibility to COVID19 from poisoned waters and the destruction of our traditional medicines, among many other vulnerabilities. In this webinar, we aim to show that the healing of Indigenous lands and Peoples must be done together.

Our speakers were:

  • Isaac Murdoch (Bomgiizhik) (Serpent River First Nation; has studied plagues and sicknesses from the past through oral history telling through Elders and what medicines they used; lives off grid at Nimkii Aazhibikoong, a language revitilization community)

  • Dr. James Makokis (Saddle Lake Cree Nation in Northern Alberta; sole Family Physician at Kehewin Health Services on Kehewin Cree Nation)

  • Nitanis Desjarlais (Cree; learner, teacher and practitioner of traditional plants, medicines and foods)

  • Jeff Wastisicoot (Pimickamack Cree Nation (Cross Lake Manitoba); language consultant and Knowledge Keeper)

The session was moderated by Waasekom, NDN Collective Fellow and Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, Executive Director, Indigenous Climate Action.


The first webinar with Indigenous Rising Media explored the theme of caution. We discussed taking care of vulnerable members of our communities during the COVID19 pandemic, including disabled folks, houseless folks, the elderly, remote communities, and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Our speakers included:

  • Crystal Martin-Lapenskie (Inuit; President, National Inuit Youth Council)

  • Joye Braun Wanbli Wiyan Ka’win or Eagle Feather Woman (Cheyenne River Sioux; frontline community organizer with Indigenous Environmental Network)

  • Veronica Fuentes (Anishinaabekwe (nakawe) tied to Treaty 4, Yellow Quill First Nation and a second generation Salvadoran; community organizer with Beaver Hills Warriors, Indigenous Peoples Power Project and other community networks)

Dallas Goldtooth (Keep It In the Ground Organizer, Indigenous Environmental Network) moderated.


The second webinar was framed around ceremony. We talked about the importance of traditional practices during this time, including beading, singing, drumming, traditional medicines, and language.

We were joined by:

  • Carlee Kawinehta Loft (Kanien’kehá:ka; Rural Program Supervisor, Canadian Roots Exchange)

  • Gabrielle Fayant (Fishing Lake Metis Settlement, AB; Co-founder and Co CEO of Assembly of Seven Generations)

  • Kenneth "Tuffy" Helgeson (Assiniboine (Nakoda) Tribe; Assiniboine language teacher)

Lindsey Bacigal (Communications Director, Indigenous Climate Action) moderated.


The third webinar looked into the theme of compassion. In it, we brought together four participants from all over the world to talk about coming together as Indigenous People during this time and what the situation in their regions looks like right now.

Our speakers were:

  • Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim (pastoralist Mbororo community of Chad; founder of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad (AFPAT))

  • Ruth Miller (Dena'ina Athabaskan and Ashkenazi Russian Jewish; organizer doing International Indigenized climate justice work with the United Nations Association and SustainUS)

  • Leilani Cruz-Martinez Rania Ganser (Kānaka Maoli and CHamoru; Reporter, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting)

  • Leo Cerda (Kichwa community of Serena in the Ecuadorian Amazon; founder of the HAKHU Project)

Lindsey Bacigal (Communications Director, Indigenous Climate Action) and Dallas Goldtooth (Keep It In the Ground Organizer, Indigenous Environmental Network) moderated.


Our final webinar explored the theme of community. Our three participants from both sides of the Medicine Line spoke to storytelling and its importance, along with sharing a few stories.

The speakers were:

  • Kevin Locke (Lakota and Anishnabe; hoop dancer; player of the Indigenous Northern Plains flute; traditional storyteller; cultural ambassador; recording artist; educator)

  • Warren Winnipeg (Blackfoot, Siksika Nation; Addiction and Mental Health Coordinator, Paul Health Services; member of Aboriginal Day and Culture Committee for Stony Plain, Opioid Summit Committee and 2 Spirit of Edmonton Society)

  • Monique Verdin (Houma; artist; filmmaker; core member of Another Gulf is Possible and the founder of the Land Memory Bank and Seed Exchange)

Nigel Henri Robinson (Youth Engagement Lead, Indigenous Climate Action) and Dallas Goldtooth ((Keep It In the Ground Organizer, Indigenous Environmental Network) moderated the discussion.

Mussi cho/hai hai/miigwech to everyone who tuned in, to our participants, and to our friends at Indigenous Rising Media, Indigenous Environmental Network, Idle No More and NDN Collective! Though we cannot come together in person, ICA will continue to work towards putting together resources for our communities and amplifying their voices.


©2020 by Indigenous Climate Action.