As COP27 continues, N.W.T.'s Daniel T'seleie says 'land back' to Indigenous people part of climate solution

Daniel T'seleie stands in front of the Red Sea at Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. T'seleie is K'ahsho Got'ine Dene from Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., and part of the Keepers of the Water, and Indigenous Climate Action.  (Submitted by Daniel T'seleie - image credit)
Daniel T'seleie stands in front of the Red Sea at Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. T'seleie is K'ahsho Got'ine Dene from Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., and part of the Keepers of the Water, and Indigenous Climate Action. (Submitted by Daniel T'seleie - image credit)

An Indigenous climate activist from the Northwest Territories said he travelled to COP27 to advocate for climate change solutions that address the impact of climate change on Indigenous people.

The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) of the UNFCCC, is underway in Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt.

The conference opened on a grim note from global leaders: the target of keeping global warming below 1.5 C is likely impossible. The stark message, echoed by the heads of various nations, set an urgent tone as governments began two weeks of talks in the seaside resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh to figure out how to avert the worst of climate change.

Daniel T'seleie, who is with the Keepers of Water, and Indigenous Climate Action, both Indigenous-led organisation focusing on climate change action, said climate change solutions on the agenda for COP27, like carbon trading, don't address what really needs to be done.

"The only way to stop climate change," he said, "is to stop the extraction and use of fossil fuels. If that's not the flagship then we're not going to stop the climate crisis."

T'seleie, who is K'ahsho Got'ine Dene from Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., said solutions to climate change need to address the injustice the people most affected by climate change are living with.

"There's been a real push to make sure that communities that are suffering from climate change, have direct access to funding to deal with things like climate change adaptation," he said.

He said in the context of Indigenous peoples back home, that looks like "land back."

"We exist in, in a world where nations like Canada are founded on Indigenous lands that was never given up fairly," he said.

"And, I think addressing that has to be part of the broader suite of solutions, that is going to stop not just the climate crisis, but all kinds of environmental catastrophe."

Stephanie Jenzer/CBC News
Stephanie Jenzer/CBC News

Though he hasn't made it to the conference yet for health reasons, he said he wanted to go in order to raise the profile of other solutions with what he calls "spectacles" like flash mobs, outside the conference, though he didn't go into detail on what or whether he had anything planned.

He said it's about getting the message out to the public and the negotiators.

"There's a long history of Indigenous peoples being excluded from UN spaces, not just this climate change space. And there's been a lot of work put in by Indigenous peoples from around the world over the last 20 years, to really carve out some space," he said.

"I think for myself, and a lot of the people that I work with at these forums, our goal is to take power back."