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Hope in Resistance: Stories of Climate Justice

Equity + Justice, 2021, Climate + Environment, Summit Towards Equity

“We can solve this. If we do, it will build a better world for everyone.”
— Naisha Khan

SFU Public Square and Vancity are proud to present Hope in Resistance, featuring Melina Laboucan-Massimo, co-founder of Indigenous Climate Action; Anjali Appadurai, climate justice lead at Sierra Club BC; and Naisha Khan, co-founder of Banking on a Better Future, in a conversation moderated by Nahlah Ayed (host of Ideas on CBC Radio One).

These climate justice advocates will analyze the plans and commitments that emerged from the COP26 climate summit and discuss the necessity of hope and joy in fighting the climate crisis. They will share stories of communities defending their land, water and climate within Canada and around the world. And they will leave us with tangible actions we can support to make a just transition to a more equitable and sustainable future for everyone.

This keynote event of Towards Equity will be livestreamed from The Cultch's Historic Theatre in East Vancouver with opening and closing words and songs from Shamantsut Amanda Nahanee (Squamish, Nisga’a).

Thu, 25 Nov 2021

6:30 p.m. (PT)

Online event

Closed captioning in English will be available at this event.

Part of Towards Equity

Speakers

Melina Laboucan-Massimo

Founder of Sacred Earth Solar, co-founder of Indigenous Climate Action and host of Power to the People on APTN

Melina Laboucan-Massimo is Lubicon Cree from Northern Alberta. Melina is the founder of Sacred Earth Solar and the co-founder and healing justice director at Indigenous Climate Action. Melina is the inaugural fellow at the David Suzuki Foundation where her research focused on climate change, Indigenous knowledge and renewable energy. She is the host of a new TV series called Power to the People which profiles renewable energy in Indigenous communities across the country. Melina holds a master's degree in Indigenous governance at the University of Victoria with a focus on renewable energy. As a part of her master's thesis Melina implemented a 20.8 kW solar project in her home community of Little Buffalo which powers the health centre in the heart of the tar sands.

Anjali Appadurai

Climate Justice Lead at Sierra Club BC, Sectoral Organizer with Climate Emergency Unit

Anjali Appadurai is a climate justice activist, communicator and organizer. She works to strengthen climate change messaging and discourse in Canada by centring the stories of those on the front lines of the climate crisis. She is the climate justice lead at Sierra Club BC and sectoral organizer with the newly formed Climate Emergency Unit, a project of the David Suzuki Foundation inspired by Seth Klein’s 2020 book A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency. Anjali ran for parliament in the 2021 federal election as the NDP candidate for Vancouver-Granville.

Naisha Khan

Co-Founder of Banking on a Better Future, Organizer with Sustainabiliteens and Climate Strike Canada

Naisha Khan is an 18-year-old second-generation Bangladeshi settler typically residing on unceded, occupied and traditional Kwantlen, Katzie and Semiahmoo territory attending UBC. She has been a climate and racial justice organizer for the past two years as a central organizer of Sustainabiliteens, co-founder of Banking on a Better Future, and organizer with Climate Strike Canada. Naisha continues to advocate for intersectional justice now at Climate Justice UBC and in her local city of Surrey and continues to work as a JEDI and partnerships lead at Banking on a Better Future.

Moderator

Nahlah Ayed

Host of Ideas on CBC Radio One

Nahlah Ayed is an award-winning veteran of foreign reporting: first, in the Middle East, where she spent nearly a decade covering the region’s many conflicts. And later, while based in London, she covered many of the major stories of our time: Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Europe’s refugee crisis, the Brexit vote and its fallout. A former parliamentary reporter for The Canadian Press, Nahlah is a graduate of Carleton University's master of journalism program. She also holds a master's degree in interdisciplinary studies (philosophy, English and science) and a bachelor of science in genetics from the University of Manitoba.

Welcome

Shamantsut Amanda Nahanee

Amanda Nahanee (Squamish, Nisga'a) works as a history educator and engages in curriculum development, research, analysis and reporting. As a performing artist she is an actor, model, First Nations storyteller, First Nations singer, and dancer. She offers cultural advising including: facilitating Aboriginal engagement; corporate Aboriginal training for tourism, education, relationship building and cross- cultural relationships; and acting as a liaison for Aboriginal business. Her services include: major event planning, coordination, marketing and social media marketing, presentations workshop, and event facilitation.

Watch

Transcript

Event summary

Anjali Appadurai, Naisha Khan and Melina Laboucan-Massimo: Stories of Climate Justice

By Victoria Barclay, MA Candidate, UBC Department of Sociology

At Hope in Resistance: Stories of Climate Justice, part of SFU Public Square’s 2021 Towards Equity Community Summit Series, Nahlah Ayed (host of Ideas on CBC Radio One) moderated a panel with climate justice advocates stemming from the recent COP26 climate summit.

The panelists—Anjali Appadurai, climate justice lead at Sierra Club BC; Naisha Khan, a UBC student who is a central organizer with Sustainabiliteens and the co-founder of Banking on a Better Future; and Melina Laboucan-Massimo, co-founder and healing justice director of Indigenous Climate Action—spoke about their relationship to climate justice.

Read More

Shamantsut Amanda Nahanee (Squamish, Nisga'a), an actor, model, First Nations storyteller, singer and dancer, welcomed us to the event with a song and stories of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh territories where she and the other speakers were joining from.

Colonialism, capitalism and the climate crisis

Throughout the event, Appadurai, Khan and Laboucan-Massimo all spoke to the massive effect colonialism has had on climate justice.

Laboucan-Massimo, who is Lubicon Cree from Northern Alberta, pointed out that Indigenous communities are always facing the brunt of resource extraction, environmental genocide and, most notably, colonialism.

Khan indicated that COP26 failed to centre Indigenous perspectives, despite Indigenous communities’ responsibility for 80 per cent of our conservation across the globe.

Reflecting on her own experiences, Appadurai discussed how Indigenous movements taught her about the importance of humans seeing ourselves as part of a symbiotic relationship with the earth.

All three speakers also emphasized how capitalism and colonialism created the climate crisis. Appadurai described the climate crisis as a multi-layered issue embedded within inequality, debt and an unfair economic system. We heard from both Appadurai and Khan how the Global South’s climate crisis is a direct result of colonialism and exploitation. And, while the Global South has been enduring emergency-level climate circumstances for 20 to 30 years, Indigenous communities have been at the forefront of these emergencies for hundreds of years, as Appadurai pointed out.

Laboucan-Massimo told us about the devastating oil spill in her community of Little Buffalo in 2011, stating, “Cultural and environmental genocide is the encroachment and contamination and destruction of the territories where we live and breathe and practice our culture, tradition, languages and customs. [Our territories are] being devastated by environmental degradation and industrialized landscapes and watersheds and contaminated air.”

A need for something new

“A false solution is something that seeks to solve the problem through the same logic and through the same framework that created it,” Appadurai stated. For a way forward, each of the speakers highlighted the need for newness.

In Canada, while some may believe that we are in an era of reconciliation, Laboucan-Massimo directly challenged this misconception. She pointed to the careless economy and unprotected Aboriginal and treaty rights, and discussed the relationship between violence against the earth and violence against women. We are in a neocolonial era, she said.

Laboucan-Massimo asserted that we must know our relationship with our places for climate justice, so the first step is decolonization. Both Laboucan-Massimo and Khan spoke about white supremacy and how we must heal from it to eradicate further trauma.

Khan reminded us that white supremacy has not always existed, nor prevailed, and that the right voices need to be centred to move forward. She also noted the need to move away from competitiveness and the same structures that created the crisis, aligning with Appadurai’s comments about false solutions.

This panel arose from the recent COP26 summit, though some speakers questioned its significance. While Appadurai mentioned there is power and value in people coming together from around the world, Khan maintained that there are issues that COP cannot address, noting that change happens at the grassroots level. Laboucan-Massimo was critical of COP, calling out its large use of resources and funding while lacking on-the-ground emergency preparedness.

The event ended with a closing prayer song from Nahanee, who asked us to pray for everyone impacted by climate change, food sovereignty issues, and poverty.

To conclude on a motivated note, in the words of Khan, “I believe that we can solve this crisis and build a better world for all. A world where the earth is not just another avenue for economic growth. A world where we are not extracting from the land. A world where ‘marginalized' is no longer part of our vocabularies. A world where community thrives, where we can enjoy nature instead of choking on the fumes of fossil fuels, where we have a regenerative and circular economy.”

Let’s work toward climate justice together.

Organizational spotlights

To channel the energy of this event into collective action, the keynote speakers each highlighted an organization making tangible change towards climate and racial justice, calling on us to support their work. Watch short videos about the organizations and learn how you can support them:

Nuchatlaht Land Back Fund

Anjali Appadurai called attention to the Nuchatlaht Nation on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island, who are taking the B.C. government to court on a claim of aboriginal title. Donations to this crowdfunding campaign go entirely towards the Nuchatlaht Nation's legal fees.

RAVEN

Naisha Khan spoke about RAVEN, which raises legal defense funds in partnership with Indigenous nations in Canada who are defending their rights and the integrity of their lands and cultures against environmental destruction.

Decolonize Together

Melina Laboucan-Massimo recommended the work of Decolonize Together, a collective of Indigenous, Black, POC and Settler educators, academics, artists and activists. They provide organizations and communities with decolonial and anti-racist education, training, strategic guidance and more.

In the news

Resources

Researching for Climate Justice
In May 2021, SFU Public Square and partners hosted a conversation to discuss the challenges and opportunities of taking equity-informed approaches to climate research, solutions and policy development. Watch the video or read the event summary or the final report to catch up on the conversation!

Centring Justice in the Climate Emergency with Anjali Appadurai — Below the Radar podcast (September 7, 2021)

Climate Justice and Inequality series — Below the Radar podcast
In addition to the above interview with Anjali Appadurai, this series from SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement featured interviews with climate justice advocates such as Khelsilem, Marc Lee, Eugene Kung and Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.

Melina Laboucan-Massimo: Catalyzing an Indigenous-led just energy transition — Rhett A. Butler, Mongabay (March 22, 2021)

"Get It Done": Urging Climate Justice, Youth Delegate Anjali Appadurai Mic-Checks UN Summit — Democracy Now! (December 9, 2011)
In 2011, Anjali Appadurai delivered a speech on behalf of the youth delegation conference in Durban to protest the failure of world leaders to agree to immediately agree to a deal of binding emissions cuts.

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Media partner

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