Canada Leverages Indigenous Knowledge to Combat Climate Change

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by | May 15, 2024

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Highlighting Indigenous Knowledge Systems

The Canadian government has released For Our Future: Indigenous Resilience Report, an assessment rooted in Indigenous knowledge, perspectives, and experiences. The report is a component of Canada in a Changing Climate: Advancing our Knowledge for Action. This national initiative focuses on understanding climate change’s effects on Canadian communities and ecosystems. Leveraging Indigenous Knowledge Systems, the report highlights the disproportionate impacts that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis face and underscores their unique strengths in adaptation. It advocates for integrating Indigenous Knowledge Systems into all climate actions, establishing that Indigenous-led initiatives are crucial for self-determination and a sustainable future.

Elevating Indigenous Climate Leadership

The report articulates the importance of partnership between the government and Indigenous communities to advance an Indigenous Climate Leadership Agenda. By aligning national policies with the vision of Indigenous communities, the federal government aims to empower First Nations, Inuit, and Métis to lead self-determined climate actions that consider their diverse circumstances and priorities.

The Honourables Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, and Gary Anandasangaree, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations all highlighted in their remarks that Indigenous Peoples face unique climate challenges impacting their lives, livelihoods, and cultures. First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, are uniquely positioned to lead climate solutions using their knowledge, science, and lived experiences. From wildfires to melting permafrost to floods, northerners and communities across the country are seeing increased extreme weather events. Due to their geographic location and relationship to the lands, waters, and ice, Indigenous and Northern communities are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts. This experience makes them best positioned to lead climate change mitigation efforts and shape a more climate-resilient future. The report highlights Indigenous Peoples’ unique role in responding to the climate crisis and underscores the need for integrating Indigenous Knowledge Systems across all government actions.

Charting a Sustainable Path Forward

The report reveals that Canada’s first National Adaptation Strategy (NAS), released in 2023, includes a dedicated annex for Indigenous climate change strategies, incorporating Indigenous rights as a guiding principle. Ministers acknowledge the essential role of these communities in shaping a climate-resilient future, particularly given their deep-rooted connection to land, water, and resources. Over the coming year, the government will work with Indigenous organizations and leaders to implement self-determined climate actions, which are fundamental to advancing the reconciliation journey.

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