Driin gwiinzii chilikut-good day friends...

My position as Arctic outreach campaigner for Greenpeace Canada has brought me to many diverse and exciting places over the last year.  From the Arctic Indigenous People’s Conference in Kiruna, Sweeden to an expedition to the North Pole – my outreach works takes me to some pretty amazing and inspiring places.

My most recent trip was to the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition’s Powershift conference, which took place in Victoria, British Columbia, Coast Salish Territories from October 4-7th.  Victoria is the first city outside of Ottawa to host Powershift in Canada, and this year over 1000 inspirational individuals of all ages and committed to climate justice and change for this planet made it to BC.  

There were also some phenomenal keynote speakers who addressed and inspired the crowds with their life’s work, including:

  • world renowned environmentalist David Suzuki
  • Crystal Lameman from Beaver Lake Cree Nation outside of Cold Lake, Alberta - a community that’s still dealing with an unstoppable toxic oil spill
  • Takayna Blaney, a powerful 12 year old inspirational speaker and performer
  • Melina Lebucon-Massimo who has been doing great work on the Tar Sands awareness and whose home has also felt the devastating impacts of oil spills
  • Daniel Tselie, a traditional Dene man who has had ample experience bringing forward the concerns of our people to Canada and the world

These and so many others in our movement continue inspire me as they work across the globe to create a better world. 

Gatherings like Powershift are a necessary part of our work.  Re-connecting with the people that make up this powerful global movement means we also gain new skills and strategies, while taking action together and reclaiming power.  It helps remind me that there are so many more people working alongside me, dedicated to finding solutions to the huge problems we face.  And by listening, learning, sharing and growing together we can organize our power and fight back. 

I feel very passionately about my work and have dedicated my life to raising awareness about environmental justice.  I’ve been taught as an Indigenous woman that I am a steward of the land and my responsibility is enshrined in a fiduciary obligation according to my treaty rights. As a woman I have been taught that it is our responsibility to speak for the water, so this is what I accept as my responsibility. As a youth I see the problems we’ll be inheriting for generations to come and I feel compelled to act. 

It was an honour for me to attend Powershift and to speak truth to power about the impacts of climate change and other environmental problems on Northern and indigenous communities.  And I want to thank all my fellow participants for giving me hope and keeping my ignited in this work for justice. 

Kiera-Dawn Kolson is a Tso’Tine-Gwich’in youth from Denendeh in the Northwest Territories.