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Call to Action # 66: Youth Programs (66)

Canada’s Indigenous youth call for environmental reconciliation and inclusion of Indigenous voices when taking climate action

June 18, 2024

NationTalk: Toronto – Deloitte’s Future of Canada Centre is launching Reconciling our relationships to preserve Mother Earth for future generations, the fourth volume of its Voices of Indigenous Youth Leaders on Reconciliation series. In it, Indigenous youth share their definition of environmental reconciliation, which provides opportunity for governments and industries to take responsibility for historical and ongoing harms to the environment. The youth leaders call for meaningful inclusion of Indigenous knowledge, perspectives, and values in addressing and remedying these harms. They envision establishing reciprocity in relationships with Indigenous partners and the environment.

“The youth, our future Knowledge Keepers, are calling for a new approach of working together and rebuilding relationships with the land and each other to ensure a healthy environment in their lifetime,” says Mitch Mercredi Director, Nation Building Advisory, at Deloitte Canada and member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Alberta. “Our people are rooted in a reciprocal relationship with the land in which we live, and we care for the lands through our traditional knowledge and practices in return for the physical, spiritual and cultural sustenance it provides. Yet, Indigenous Peoples in Canada continue to be largely excluded from decision-making processes regarding land and resource management, and climate mitigation and adaptation efforts.”

The report further explores the fundamental values that Indigenous youth shared about the environment, highlighting the unbreakable connection between their cultures, knowledge, and land. It acknowledges the severe impacts of colonization on the preservation and transmission of Indigenous cultures and knowledge systems, and the prevailing Western approaches to land management that often exclude Indigenous leadership from decision-making processes.

Emphasizing the need to restore trust and facilitate meaningful partnerships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, the report acknowledges the barriers in place for Indigenous-led climate action, such as financing and resource needs, and jurisdictional challenges, which must be overcome as part of environmental reconciliation.

A series of recommendations aimed at embedding respect for and prioritizing revitalization of Indigenous traditional knowledge and connections to the land are put forward by the youth. Examples of these recommendations include implementing Indigenous language and cultural revitalization efforts, creating cross-cultural learning opportunities, decolonizing climate research and action, investing in the next generation of Indigenous climate leaders, acknowledging past and continuing harms, and equitably investing in Indigenous-led initiatives.

Reconciling our relationships to preserve Mother Earth for future generations presents a vision of a future where past harms are addressed, resilient and healthier Indigenous communities are supported, a healthier environment is achieved, and Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners come together for projects that offer mutual benefits for all Canadians and the environment.

To gather Indigenous youth voices and inform the report’s findings, Deloitte’s FCC surveyed Indigenous youth who participated in the 2022 and 2023 Indigenous Youth Advocacy Week (IYAW), coordinated by Indigenous Youth Roots, a national, Indigenous-led youth organization and co-publisher of the report series. The insights and recommendations provided by Indigenous youth were supplemented with secondary sources, including interviews with academic and industry specialists experienced in working with Indigenous Peoples, Knowledge Keepers, and communities in land and resource management and conservation sectors.

To access more actionable recommendations put forward by Indigenous youth leaders, please find the full report here.

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