Kluane Adamek at the Assembly of First Nations National Climate Gathering

Updated: Apr 3, 2020

I am so happy to share with you. I am Kluane Adamek citizen of Kluane First Nation. I am currently serving as the, AFN Yukon regional chief. The national responsibilities that I carry include being the lead on climate and the environment, as well as health and modern treaties. This gathering has brought just close to 400 first nation leaders, elders, women, partners, allies are all here gathered to talk about what does a first nation lens to climate change look like. This is a very different way of looking at climate action. So what we're talking about is looking at the systems that exist, health and the wellbeing of people, what does that look like? The land, the water, the animals and to be at the forefront of solutions when we're talking about climate action? That's why this gathering is incredibly important, to really look at defining that lens.

We're hearing from nations, coast to coast. Locally, we've heard from Kluane first nation, and a presentation about the lowering levels of Kluane Lake, because of the Kaskawulsh glacier melting and the Slims river not having that same water being fed into Lake. So that's one example. Then we also look to the Yukon First Nation Wildfire . You look at that organization and how first nations in the Yukon are recognizing that we need to be responding. We need to be adapting. So we've got some incredible presentations that delegates from across the country are hearing from. We also heard this morning from our brothers and sisters out East. In the Quebec region and in Alberta. What are people doing there with respect to solar panel and clean energy and hydro projects? So this really is about giving people all of that information, what's working when it comes to climate action. We've got an action plan that's being put into place that all Yukon first nations have been supporting and gathering around. So there's a lot of really important actions that have happened here. So the concept is take only what you need and you don't need to take too much. We think about economic development when we think about the environment, how do we start to look at the generation of economies based on the interest to ensure that future generations have access to clean drinking water and that the carbon emissions aren't out of control where they are now.

So it really is shifting and I think this is where first nations people here in Canada, indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world, have so much to share with the world. It's that balance of we have to weigh traditional knowledge, we have to give that the value that it needs. Not just weigh modern science above that. It's so important that our people are able to look at the studies, the data and say, yeah, okay, we understand this. We know this because we have a story about it. Our elders have talked about the changes that are going to come, there are going to be hard times. We hear our elders say that. We've heard our elders say that for a long time. And so now we are seeing what that looks like and feels like and we're also responding at the same time. I think maybe the only thing I would add is that there are always spaces and places to improve. The national headquarters at the Assembly of First Nations and our regional office are working really hard to ensure that we have knowledge keepers engaged, that we have women engaged, that we have young people engaged. I am really proud of the way that we've been able to do that. At our regional climate gathering a few weeks ago, we had a full day that was with elders and youth to have them connect and learn and share. They were all prepared going into the next day where they were able to provide their perspective and their calls to action. We've got to balance the knowledge, and the direction from our elders and then the energy and the innovation of our young people and how do those things blend to create some of the solutions that you see happening all over the territory.

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