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Manitoba Métis Federation Minister of Housing, Will Goodon, is representing the Red River Métis at the COP26 Climate Summit in Scotland and attending the event as a member of the Indigenous Circle of Experts.
The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) is attending to ensure Red River Métis have a voice at the global table when it comes to climate change.
“It’s extremely, vitally important that all the stories that we hear from our hunters, from our trackers, from our fishers, that they are reflected at an event like this,” Goodon said.
There are several goals the MMF is looking to accomplish during the summit, he said, including the need to ensure nation members linked to traditional economies like hunting, trapping and fishing or work in resource sectors and rural sectors, are protected against the effects of climate change.
Climate change directly impacts these sectors and the MMF is hoping to ensure the people impacted by wildfire or floods can feed their families sustainably, he said.
A major factor in this initiative is to ensure the Métis Nation has a voice and part in saving the planet.
COP26 is a two-week summit running from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12 in Glasgow, which brings together leaders from across the globe to commit to tackling environmental issues and slowing down the effects of climate change.
A large focus of the 2021 COP26 is to cut greenhouse gas emissions and slow down the rise of the average global temperature.
Goodon attended the COP23, 24 and 25 summits in the past.
The impacts of climate change have been visible for decades, Goodon said, and over the last couple of years, these issues have only become more visible.
These effects are felt by Indigenous people, especially those who live in northern regions.
“There are such pronounced changes,” Goodon said. “The ice is not as thick. The ice is affecting all of the ecosystems from bears, to seals, to fish, marine life, wildlife and they see it every single day where the tundra is melting.”
The effects of climate change are also being felt in Métis communities, he added. For example, commercial fishermen have seen changes in the water, largely driven by the changing climate.
These impacts can also be seen in extreme weather leading to natural disasters including wildfires, flooding and dire droughts.
It will take united action across the world to address the growing effects of climate change. If no action is taken, Goodon said, the world will be uninhabitable for future generations.
“It is an existential problem,” Goodon said.
He praised Canada for welcoming the MMF into its delegations and serving as advocates on behalf of Indigenous issues.
There have been many people who have diligently worked to ensure Indigenous voices are heard at an event like COP26, he said. Their voices must be included because Indigenous people on every continent are often the first to feel the acute effects of climate change.
“They’re always the most marginalized people and they’re feeling climate change the most. To have a voice here is really important,” Goodon said.
He added that climate change is an issue that greatly affects youth across the globe.
“They know that if the planet goes sideways they’re the ones that are going to suffer, it’s not going to be us,” Goodon said. “It’s about making sure those resources are there in the future — we have a responsibility to make sure the resources are there for future generations. That’s what this is about.”
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Chelsea Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun