Locals in Saskatoon Join the Conversation for Climate Justice
While thousands negotiated at COP 16 in Cancun, Tuesday December 7th brought a smaller group of individuals together to discuss similar topics, even though they were located thousands of kilometres away. The International Day of Action lead by la Via Campesina prompted gatherings worldwide to take place alongside the negotiations in Cancun.
In Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, an informal group of individuals from the Canadian Youth Delegation, National Farmer`s Union, Canadian Climate Justice Network and Next Up Saskatoon planned a local People`s Assembly in coordination with the International Day of Action. Around fifty people gathered at Amigos Cantina for an evening of discussions around climate justice, the impacts from climate change on the local community and community-driven initiatives.
Sue Deranger, a Regina activist who attended The World Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change and Mother Earth Rights and COP 15 in Copenhagen set the context for the evening by describing personal pictures taken during the conferences and by relaying her experiences of having family in Fort Chipewyan, downstream from the tar sands. She briefly discussed the text of Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth and through her stories and information, those attending the gathering were able to enter into the discussions reminded of the importance of Indigenous knowledge and the rights of Indigenous peoples.
During the first part of the evening, those in attendance were given the opportunity to discuss fundamental questions such as, what is climate justice locally and globally, how do we need to change to ensure climate justice exists and what are the connections between climate justice and our community. The large group was split up into several tables of interest, each with a facilitator, to consider these questions from the perspectives of energy, transportation, food and agriculture or international solidarity.
The second part of the evening included a large group discussion, set by Kevin Millsip the director of Check Your Head and co-director of Next Up. It focused on movement building, acting as an ally and local initiatives which are already working towards climate justice in Saskatchewan.
By the end of the evening, the group had formed an extensive list of resources, obstacles, potential target groups and action items. Those in attendance had the opportunity to have further one-on-one discussions; forming partnerships, discussing personal projects and forming coalitions between existing groups who are already working hard to raise awareness or to battle injustice.
The outlook of the evening was positive and there was an overwhelming consensus that if the government will not take steps to work towards climate justice, the people of Saskatoon and surrounding area will.
To see pictures and videos from the event, please see the facebook event page as they are slowly being added there:http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/event.php?eid=121901427873809
Lastly, it would not have been possible to have this discussion without the financial help from the Council of Canadians Prairie Branch located in Edmonton, the Saskatchewan Outdoor and Environmental Education Association and Sask Lotteries.