Reflecting on the Unist’ot’en Camp at UNFCCC
This summer I had the honour of spending a week up north of BC at the Unist’ot’en camp (an event to build solidarity in resistance to the Pacific Trails Pipeline and other industries), where something extraodinary happened. The intersections of climate justice and de-colonization were practiced in ways I haven`t seen before. We came together to have some of the toughest conversations that could be a step towards bridging indigenous and settler relationships to tackle one of the biggest problems of our century: the exploitation of fossil fuel industries and its attack on the people and environment.
It was an experience that strenghthened my committment and passion for climate justice. It was a moment to take responsibility to understand what it means to be a settler and go forward knowing that this fight is about fighting for all of our freedoms. No matter how many imperialist, colonial, oppressive structures try to make us think otherwise, we must push forward and challenge these powers, and not be complacent with our actions.
Ironically, as I continue to question my participation at the United Nations climate negotiations in Doha, Qatar, I could not be more far off from the lessons I took from the Unistoten Camp and the type of change I want to create in the world. Going into this, I thought I was mentally prepared to lower my expectations, but four days in, and the feelings of dissapoiment, frustration and powerlessness have arisen- and it has become blatently evident that the change we need can not be done in the corridors and plenaries of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Repeated reinforcement around change being slow, and the neglected responsibility of negotiators has been prevalent. A conference that could have potential in pushing nations ahead, particularly colonial nations like Canada and the USA to take responsibility for the problems they have driven has failed.
Nations like Canada are sending this process backwards with actions like pulling out of the Kyoto and collaberating with fossil fuel industries to fullfill their agenda. Negotiaters are sitting here using a process to discuss proccess. As they are pushing youth aside, and pulling an Obama, (feeding messages youth want to hear, while continuing on the path to inaction) I`m reminded again of the people who are fighting on the grounds for real change. This week the Unist’ot’en people stopped the Pacific Trails Pipeline from entering thier territories which have led over twenty cities from New York to Vancouver to Ottawa, to show support and stand in solidarity.
At the very least I want to say thank you to the front line communities and people like Warner and Freida (freedom fighters and land defenders of the Wet’suwet’en territories) for being the real leaders to this movement that any negotiater or minister at the UN will ever be.