B.C. First Nations heading to COP28 in Dubai

The First Nations Climate Initiative (FNCI) will be joining Canada’s official delegation at COP28, the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Dubai next month.

The group includes members from the Haisla Nation, Nisga’a Nation, Metlakatla First Nation, and Halfway River First Nation.

Candice Wilson, enviromental manager for the Haisla Nation, was at COP27 representing the FNCI last year in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

Wilson says this year, her team will be presenting the role of nature-based solutions in climate issues and giving an update on what it has been accomplished this past year.

“Haisla is a part of eight nations who went to a contractor to develop a pre-feasibility study for a nature-based project in our traditional territory, and our focus would be on repairing restoration and improved forest management.”

Wilson says her team strives to highlight a just energy transition that simultaneously advances de-carbonization, reconciliation aims, First Nations economic self-determination, and the repair and recovery of ecosystems that restore traditional and cultural values.

“As Indigenous people, our knowledge and our culture are closely tied to the land,” Wilson said. “The health of our lands and our prosperity go hand in hand. We treat the land with respect. This is why Indigenous-led solutions need to be fundamental to all resource and energy decisions. We can’t be on the sidelines watching; our voices must be heard.”

COP is an opportunity for First Nations to showcase the work they’re doing, Wilson adds, and demonstrate how integral ecosystem restoration is to nature-based solutions projects.

The FNCI says the prosperity that exists today in Canada is due in large part to the exploitation of the abundance of natural resources in the traditional territories of Indigenous people.

Wilson says she’s looking forward to taking part in discussions, making presentations, and making new connections with people at COP 28.

“There is an Indigenous people pavilion there as well, so we were able to sit and go for their initial opening, and that was really exciting for last year, and just meeting other people,” she said.

“When we did our presentation last year, there were other Canadians who were in attendance and we were able to make connections and they were really excited for the work we are doing in Canada.”

FNCI says for generations, First Nations have suffered from the impacts of non-consensual resource extraction. These cumulative impacts have resulted in the decline of species that are essential to their culture. It adds this loss of wild foods, medicines, cultural identity, and traditional livelihoods creates poverty and despair.

Wilson says the Haisla Nation is also pushing for more provincial and federal support to carry out Indigenous-led climate initiatives.

The annual United Nations climate change conference will be hosted in Dubai from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12.

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