THUNDER BAY – Over 30 representatives from 15 First Nation communities from across Ontario will gather in Thunder Bay for a two-day meeting this week to discuss climate change policy and crucial next steps. First Nation leadership, members of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change as well as Ministry of Energy will attend.
“For Indigenous Peoples, climate change is a matter of life and death. First Nations have contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions yet, our communities are already feeling the effects of climate change, especially remote northern communities,” said Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day. “We are the first ones to feel the adverse effects which impact on every single aspect of our daily life, from lack of winter roads to warmer seasons that disrupt access to fish and wildlife. Seasonal changes, extreme weather and natural disasters are affecting our community’s ability to access basic services which leaves us two steps behind the average Canadian.”
This regional meeting will be an opportunity for First Nations to learn from the work of other communities as to adaptation and mitigation measures for climate change. Besides high level recaps from Provincial Territorial Organizations, First Nation representatives will have the opportunity to ask questions of the provincial government during a panel session with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.
“I believe that the Statement of Reconciliation, along with the 2015 Political Accord between Ontario and the Chiefs of Ontario, will enable us to finally address this terrible chapter in our current relationship,” added Regional Chief Day. “As the newly appointed chair of the national Assembly of First Nations’ Chiefs Committee on the Environment, I will ensure that our voice is heard and we are equal partner at any climate change table. Climate Change laws and policies in Ontario must recognize that energy policy and investments must be integrated as much as possible in climate change policy.”
On June 8, for the release of the Climate Change Action Plan, Premier Kathleen Wynne said that there will be an enormous cost imposed on future generations if nothing is done now to combat climate change. First Nations agree but, also express frustration that the provincial government has not adequately included them in the climate change policy making process, specifically with the passing of Bill 172 legislating a cap and trade program as well as the Climate Change Action Plan.