Statement on International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

Today is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People. As we are faced with unprecedented crises, such as the pandemic, ecological breakdown, and a plethora of other consequences tied to centuries of systemic inequities, the world is in dire need of leadership.

Colonialism and the perpetuation of genocide against Indigenous peoples is ongoing and horrific around the world. Political establishments worldwide are still committing colonial atrocities; so-called “Canada” is no exception. As of February, 2020 there were 61 long-term drinking water advisories in effect on reserves and rates of food insecurity are disproportionately high among Indigenous populations in Canada. Food insecurity is especially egregious in Northern regions, where nearly 70% of Inuit households are food insecure. This rate is one of the highest for an Indigenous population, in a country as prosperous as Canada. Meanwhile, Indigenous peoples are also disproportionately incarcerated in Canadian prisons and our federal government continues to build through unceded land without obtaining free, prior, and informed consent. 

This past December I had the great honour of attending the UN Climate Change Conference; COP25 in Madrid. It was an irreplaceable experience; I learned many things while I was there, and gained insights into global politics and carbon markets that I am glad to have learned, but indicate how broken all our systems are. COP25 was a constant stream of simultaneous events in many rooms where you choose what to attend. I found pretty quickly that listening to presentations by Indigenous leaders from around the globe was the best use of time. What was crystal clear from all the presentations, as well as the placement of the Indigenous pavilion at the conference site, was that Indigenous peoples are ignored, though they are doing the most important and impactful work, and getting killed for it. 

Indigenous peoples are on the frontlines, and have been for centuries, calling for true justice for the world. Yet, instead of supporting Indigenous peoples, governments and corporations continue to perpetuate colonization leading to Indigenous peoples being killed for their work; this is unacceptable. 

We have the opportunity to transform our ways of life on this planet so we can flourish for generations to come. This starts with ending the genocides against Indigenous peoples, globally implementing UNDRIP, and fully respecting Indigenous rights and sovereignty. Each and every settler across Turtle Island has a responsibility to do the work of decolonization; personally and within society. I am forever committed to this work.