The Nuchatlaht Nation’s land claim is one of the few rays of hope to come out from COP26
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 18, 2021
Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and səlilwətaɬ (VANCOUVER, BC) and Glasgow — After a disappointing conclusion to COP26 in Glasgow that will make it harder to achieve the 1.5°C goal established in the Paris Agreements, representatives from the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Sierra Club BC and the Nuchatlaht Nation that attended the climate summit in the U.K. are calling on the B.C. government to step aside and stop opposing Indigenous-led climate solutions.
The divisive summit comes to an end as unprecedented amounts of rain, flooding and mudslides wreak havoc across southern B.C., closing highways, prompting widespread evacuations and leaving people stranded, only months after the deadliest heatwave in B.C.’s recorded history.
Despite this, the B.C. government’s plans for at-risk old-growth protection and CleanBC, while good intentioned, fail to provide the level of ambition needed to ensure that targets are met and that ecosystem collapse is avoided. The lack of actionable timelines and funding for a just transition will only pave the way for more old-growth logging, more oil and gas expansion and, as a result, more environmental degradation, biodiversity loss and climate risks like flooding, droughts, watershed damage and wildfires. Fugitive emissions from B.C.’s LNG industry are significantly underestimated using existing monitoring requirements, and the massive emissions from forest management are excluded from the annually reported provincial emissions inventory altogether.
“While the B.C. government is in Glasgow receiving unwarranted praise as a climate leader, they continue to fight First Nations in court, destroy endangered species habitat, log high-carbon density old-growth forests and build fossil fuel pipelines across Indigenous territories in violation of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People,” said Mark Worthing, coastal projects lead at Sierra Club BC.
One ray of hope that emerged during COP26 came from Indigenous-led climate solutions that were presented during the two-week summit. One of these is the Nuchatlaht Nation’s title case and Salmon Parks initiative for which the Nation is taking the B.C. government to court in a bid to win back 20,000 hectares of their territory on Nootka Island. This project was presented during COP26 by Nuchatlaht Nation Tyee Haa’wilth Jordan Michael and representatives from the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and Sierra Club BC.
“Our land claim decision can set a precedent for Indigenous people across Canada. And if our small tribe of about 160 people can set in motion change that affects our entire country, think about what 160 nations working together could do to impact change in our world to solve climate change,” said Tyee Haa’wilth Jordan Michael from the Nuchatlaht Nation.
“For generations, First Nations have been excluded from making decisions about the fate of our own lands and resources in this province, resulting in mismanagement of much of the old-growth forests here. With only a tiny fraction of BC’s old growth remaining, the province must work with Nations to ensure that these crucial wild salmon habitats and carbon stores have a future as living ecosystems and not as products Without providing funds to First Nations to replace any potential lost revenues if they proceed with deferrals, the Province is seeking consent by coercion. What kind of a choice do Nations really have if they are going to lose critical revenue when they choose deferrals?” said Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, secretary treasurer at the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
“Indigenous people have always known how to take care of our salmon. We have always known how to have a good relationship with forests. Biodiversity, old-growth and carbon-rich ecosystems can’t wait any longer for colonial governments’ weak or false solutions. We’re taking matters into our own hands now. We’re taking land back,” added Tlalita’las – Karissa Glendale, forest relations coordinator at Sierra Club BC and a member of the Kwakwaka’wakw.
Sierra Club BC and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs are calling for the B.C. government to take real action to mitigate the climate emergency that is causing widespread destruction and biodiversity loss in the province by stopping old-growth logging, ending oil and gas expansion and embracing Indigenous-led climate solutions and reconciliation.
Tyee Haa’wilth Jordan Michael | Nuchatlaht Nation
Kukpi7 Judy Wilson | Secretary Treasurer, Union of BC Indian Chiefs
C/O 778-866-0548, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tlalita’las – Karissa Glendale | Forest Relations Coordinator at Sierra Club BC
+1 (250) 974-4209, email@example.com
Mark Worthing | Coastal Projects Lead at Sierra Club BC
Photo: Ana Pessoa