Woodland Caribou in Canada
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#Forests Protect the Woodland Boreal Caribou

After 5 years of delaying, provinces and territories have failed to follow through with measures to protect the boreal woodland caribou. Herds have been declining…

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In September, as you may remember, we went to Finland to stand in solidarity with the Sámi, Indigenous Peoples living in the Finnish boreal forest.

By we, I mean members of the Cree community from Canada: Mandy Gull, Deputy Grand Chief of the Cree Nation Government; Clayton Thomas-Muller, climate justice activist and member of Mathias Colomb (Pukatawagan) Cree Nation; and Kaitlynn Hester-Moses, Youth Grand Chief of the Cree Nation Government. As well as myself, Philippa, Forest Campaigner for Greenpeace Canada.

The Sámi community is fighting to stop a mega-railroad project that would cut across forests and destroy lands that the Sámi and Greenpeace have been fighting to protect for years. This new railway project is being planned by the Finnish government without respecting the Sámi’s Free, Prior and Informed Consent.

And one day, during a public event in Inari, Finland, Kaitlynn gave a speech… and her words resonated with the Sámi and with all those who are working together with Indigenous People to save forests and the climate.

I would like to share her heartfelt speech with you.

Kaitlynn Hester-Moses, Youth Grand Chief of the Cree Nation Government

 

“Wachiya, hello everyone.

It is a great honour and pleasure to be here with you all. I came with curiosity and excitement to learn your culture and to stand with you. Before I share my speech, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Kaitlynn Hester Moses, I am a young youth leader for my Cree people in my territory. My role is the Youth Grand Chief of Cree Nation in North of Quebec of Canada.

I will share you a long story short, that our youth touched the hearts of the world just because they stood up for something they believed in, something that was worth to fight for. The Journey of Nishiyuu is The 6 young walkers journeyed their walk from their community of Whapmagoostui to Ottawa. They started with 6 youth and 1 guide. They finished their journey with hundreds of crees and other first nations. The walk embarked more than 1600 km. The purpose of their walk was to fight for their youth’s issues and needs, and also to support the Idle No More movement. This happened in 2013. One of the walkers is in my board. He is a youth chief in his community. This journey started with 6 youth, 1 elder and finished it with hundreds of First Nations. This is how powerful it is when youth come together.

To my fellow saami people, you have a beautiful land, culture and language. You have been heard from across the overseas. We are here to stand with you. Don’t be afraid to stand up for your traditions, your culture, your identity because it is your right. Your tradition, your culture, and your identity are your sacred powerful weapons because it protects you and your people and your way of life. These rivers run in your veins and these trees are the air in your lungs. Your ancestors are the beats of your heart because this is your life. This is your home.

The youth are very powerful people. Their actions speak louder than their words. Youth are not only the leaders, but the contributors of their home land. They will practice your culture and they will teach the next generation to come, they will tell the stories of your people, they will learn from your stories, your experience, your sacrifices. Their knowledge is what you show and tell them. And they will pass it on to your children. A youth’s voice roars like a lion and walks like the sound of thunder. It took awhile for us to develop our voice, and now that we have it, we are not going to be silent. You know change is coming when youth are rising. If we don’t stand up, then who will?

Thank you for opening my eyes and touching my heart. You taught me that one Indigenous people are struggling, we are all struggling. Your fight is my fight. We will stand with you, even when we go home, I will carry this fight with me. I will remember you. I will be with you all.

I hope this message brings you hope, courage, strength, and I hope it inspires you. You are Saami people, nothing and none can take that away from you. Thank you all and god bless!”

These words of wisdom deserve to be heard. Please, please share this speech to tell the world that courage and tenacity are the only things we need to make it a better place.

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Thank you,

Philippa