(Vancouver, BC) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde, along with a delegation including Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart and Grand Chief Edward John of First Nations Summit, told the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) at their meeting today that First Nations must play a crucial role in identifying and implementing solutions to the environmental and climate change challenges that all First Nations are impacted by.
“First Nations need to be full and effective members of the CCME and contribute to the development of strategies and plans that relate to the environment and climate change,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “Reconciliation has to include respect for our Elder’s traditional knowledge and our understanding of the lands and waters, the animals and plant life. We have a central role to play in lawmaking in this area, and we have responsibilities to safeguard our traditional territories and our people. We hold valuable knowledge that can help everyone in maintaining a healthy environment for all our children.”
The National Chief advocated for these positions today at the meeting of the CCME and called for inclusion of First Nations as General Members, which would mean full inclusion in the Council’s work. The National Chief encouraged inclusion of First Nations in the emerging economy for clean energy and adaptation. He also reiterated his call for federal legislation to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
In his presentation to the CCME, the National Chief advanced three points:
- First Nations must be full participants in all meetings of CCME as a means of ensuring their voices are heard in environmental and climate change solutions. Furthermore, the National Chief encouraged “regional tables” between First Nations and provinces and territories to ensure First Nation participation in CCME discussions within the different regions;
- First Nations’ law must also be accommodated and recognized, in addition to common law and civil law, when dealing with environment and climate change regulation and management as a way to express and share First Nations’ traditional knowledge and responsibilities to safe guard the lands, wildlife, waters, and resources;
- First Nations must be involved as key players in the emerging economic industry for clean energy, adaptation, and mitigation.
The AFN has created the Advisory Committee on Climate Action and the Environment (ACCAE) and is currently establishing a network of climate coordinators across Canada. The Assembly is also working with First Nations Elders on the development of an Indigenous Knowledge policy that would support federal efforts to better respond to the impacts of climate change and other environment issues.
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
For more information, please contact:
Press Secretary – National Chief’s Office
613-241-6789 ext. 116
Alain Garon Bilingual Communications Officer
613-241-6789 ext. 382
613-241-6789 ext. 254