Join Pacific Peoples’ Partnership on International Human Rights Day for our Annual General Meeting on Tuesday December 10th from 5:30 – 8:30 pm. Business will take place from 5:30 – 6:45 pm. We will then break for mingling and refreshments, followed by a special guest speaker to discuss West Papua human rights issues. Be sure to make your annual donation or membership contribution in advance of the meeting to ensure you are qualified to vote… plus we need and welcome your support always! Renew for a minimum of $15 here.
Red Tide Indigenous Climate Action Summit
Pacific Peoples’ Partnership (PPP) typically produces a major international Pacific Networking Conference (PNC) every two years or so in Canada. We have held 23 so far. The themes and content of the conferences are always timely and on point, because they were developed in collaboration with our South Pacific and Canadian Indigenous partners.
In 2018 we are excited to be co-hosting our first-ever Pacific Networking Conference in the South Pacific!
Toi Toi Manawa Trust and Pacific Peoples’ Partnership are thrilled to co-present Red Tide: International Indigenous Climate Action Summit in the Māori tribal lands of Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, an iwi located in the eastern Bay of Plenty and East Coast regions of New Zealand’s North Island.
The main convening dates are confirmed for May 1 – 6, 2018.
May 1 & 2, 2018 – Youth Conference
May 3 – 6, 2018 – Full Summit
A wonderful pre-conference protocol program is also in development with more details to come, as is an artist residency. See additional information on our website www.redtidesummit.com
Join us in discussing and strategizing as we integrate Indigenous environmental science, activism, scientific observations and Indigenous youth involvement. The Summit will feature keynote speakers, interactive cultural sessions, open spaces and a festival of artists that will activate and rejuvenate this global movement.
Indigenous scholars, activists, allies, knowledge keepers and artists are invited to share, co-create, and connect ideas, impacts and stories related to climate change.
We are seeking donations towards the travel costs of delegates. Please donate now to help fund an Indigenous delegate to the gathering.
By all measures, the 2017 One Wave Gathering was a resounding success. All participants, be they local, Nuu-chah-nulth, Kwakwaka’wakw or South Pacific Islanders, were extremely pleased with the participatory, inclusive and educational proceedings. A number of elders were moved to tears and speechlessness by the unprecedented and historical importance of this event.
– April Ingham, Executive Director of Pacific Peoples’ Partnership
As an annual event hosted by PPP, One Wave has celebrated international Pacific community, arts and culture in Victoria, British Columbia since 2008. In 2017, motivated by ongoing steps towards First Nations reconciliation and global Indigenous movements, PPP presented an enriched and expanded One Wave Gathering.
This year’s theme, “healing through celebration,” permeated every aspect of the event creating a supportive village atmosphere while celebrating and honouring all those in attendance.
To all that have made this vision a reality: hay’sxʷqa. Read our full acknowledgement here.
This event was unprecedented: a gathering of many communities from across the North and South Pacific. Guided by their unique customs, protocols and histories, they came together on the British Columbia Legislature lawns as a village. Through this Gathering, thousands of members of the Victoria public, including political leaders from various levels of government, had the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with one another in authentic spaces.
Thanks to the BC Legislature invitation for the Gathering to use the lawns overlooking Victoria’s Inner Harbour, it was the first time in many generations that four longhouses stood on this former traditional Lekwungen village site.
This year, One Wave Gathering was marked by a unique symbolic installation: the Longhouse Project. Under the direction of Nuu-chah-nulth artist Hjalmer Wenstob, and with the active support of the BC Legislature, four First Nations and Maori youth were selected to design art for the façades of the temporary longhouses. The houses were created in the styles of the Coast Salish, Kwakwaka’wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth, and South Pacific Islands respectively. Inside each longhouse, community members from each area had full rein in creating welcoming and educational interactive spaces for the public throughout the day.
Longhouse designs were created by Sarah Jim (Coast Salish), A.J. Boersen (Nuu-chah-nulth), Juliana Speier (Kwak’waka’wakw), Jazzlyn Markowsky (Maori) and a phenomenal dance curtain, later gifted to Songhees and Esquimalt Nations, was created by James Goldsmith-Brown (Esquimalt Nation). The journey of youth, participating artists and community members who produced and programmed within the longhouses was captured in a documentary to be showcased at PPP’s upcoming AGM and Holiday Feast on December 10.
What we wanted to do was bring people into our homes, truly and honestly do it. Bring people into our homes and share. Share a meal, conversation and story, and learn a little bit about each other and the history and how we can move forward together.
– Hjalmer Wenstob (Lead Artist, Nuu-chah-nulth)
Hosted on Lekwungen territory, the Gathering’s organizers worked respectfully with Songhees and Esquimalt Nations to ensure the event was meaningful to both Nations. This led to a second unprecedented aspect of One Wave Gathering: all materials and signage on site were produced in both English and Lekwungen.
Chief Ron Sam of Songhees Nation, Chief Andy Thomas of Esquimalt Nation and Joan Morris of Songhees Nation opened the event by speaking to the Indigenous history of the Inner Harbour area, including customary place-names and sites of significance. They also spoke about the impact of colonization on the area.
Two Lekwungen dance groups (Lekwungen Dancers & Esquimalt Singers and Dancers), two Polynesian dance groups (Pearls of the South Pacific and Tusitala Polynesian Dancers), one Kwak’waka’wakw dance group (Kwakiutl Dancers) and one Nuu-chah-nulth dance group (Ahousaht Dance Group) presented on the main stage. The dance presentations ended with a participatory dance for all the public led by the Kwakiutl Dance Group.
A big part for me was that everyone came together and that we all celebrated as one race, the human race; I hope that eventually more and more people come each year and that soon racism and stereotypes end for everyone.
– A.J. Boersen (Nuu-chah-nulth), Longhouse Project Youth
During the day, the City of Victoria’s Indigenous artist-in-residence Lindsay Delaronde facilitated a corn-husk doll-making activity with public participation, and partnered with Tlingit artist Nahaan to produce a theatre piece called Remembering. Nuu-chah-nulth elder Moy Sutherland Sr. guided the public in games of slahal, a traditional bone game that in years past was an important fixture of the local economy.
At the end of the day, Pacific Peoples’ Partnership was pleased to partner with the Moose Hide Campaign for a public feast featuring both local and international foods.
One Wave 2017 was an outstanding program with a wide range of community impacts, and we are still actively consulting the community around how to move the program forward. Were you at One Wave Gathering, and do you have an idea to share? We would love to hear from you.
Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments and feedback, or get involved next year!
View more photos in our Facebook album.
Please donate today so that we can continue to produce One Wave Gathering.
Reflections from our Executive Director and Board President
Dearest PPP Friends and Family,
This past summer hundreds of wildfires scorched Canada from coast to coast, with the majority burning in British Columbia and Alberta. An iceberg the size of Prince Edward Island in Canada (roughly 5,660 km²) broke off Antarctica. The extreme unseasonable and devastating effects of climate change are now impacting us in every corner of our world.
And yet, our South Pacific friends living in some of the most affected nations of the world strongly remind us: “We are not drowning, we are fighting.” And so must we, as this is a matter of not only climate justice but our very survival globally. These passionate words were shared by Pacific 360 Warrior Mikaele Maiava live from Samoa during PPP’s Livestream event “Pacific Streams: Community Narratives on Climate Change” (sponsored by our long-time partner CAPI – Centre for Asia Pacific Initiatives.) Watch it here:
PPP is serious about addressing climate change. This past summer I had the opportunity to participate in the Climate Reality Project Climate Leadership Corps Training with Former US Vice President Al Gore in Bellevue, Washington. Over 800 delegates inspired to be Climate Leaders attended, in fact this the 35th cohort was one of the largest to date. This was encouraging, as the fight in the USA against climate change has taken such a disastrous turn under the current US administration.
Despite that administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement on Climate Change, the very future of our world depends on our solidarity, so what an inspiration it was to participate alongside youth, scientists, Indigenous leaders, activists, inventors, teachers, retirees, and countless volunteers impassioned to take a stand and make a difference. We represented so many walks of life, and together we will unite in the fight against climate change.
Earlier this year I visited the Fijian town of Toukou on Ovalau Island. Here I was reminded of the continuing risk and ongoing climate devastation faced by those most vulnerable geographically. I was there to represent PPP and our donors who are providing support through our Pacific Resilience Fund to assist with the recovery efforts at the Loreto Catholic School which was nearly leveled last year.
My tour took place during unsettled tropical weather that alternated between continual rain deluges and wind storms. This made it even more difficult to bear witness to the damage from both 2015 and 2016 cyclones on this small historic island.
It was heartbreaking to consider that the community could be hit by yet another cyclone before they can recover from the last, especially since so many families have had to leave the island to pursue employment and find accommodations and education on the main island due to this accumulated damage.
With this realization, the fight can seem hopeless, but it is not hopeless if we take action now. Pacific peoples are strong and resilient. They advocate for “1.5 to just survive” and are counting on us all to do our part. In Bonn Germany, Fiji just hosted the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23). They brought a traditional Fijian canoe or drua, which serves as a powerful symbol of resilience and unity. This also serves to remind us that “The whole world is in the same canoe.”
“We need COP23 to accelerate climate action,” says Nick Nuttall, Spokesperson for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. “The meeting is a staging post on our irreversible path to a low-carbon future, a path that we need to go on further, faster, together.”
In response to our shared climate crisis PPP has been developing a three year climate action response that includes knowledge sharing components, including two conferences. The first is Red Tide, our International Indigenous Climate Action Summit (May 2018 in Aotearoa) in followed by a youth climate summit in 2020 in British Columbia.
We are also embarking on a research program in partnership with the Indigenous Governance program at the University of Victoria to inform future policy and program development, and hosting public engagement activities such as our annual One Wave Gathering and our educational program FrancOcean Pacifique. Also in design is a Pacific Eco Youth Alliance, and a growing media hub.
PPP is contributing to many networks and community engagement projects both domestically and internationally, ultimately building solidarity and resolve together within our global community.
For Pacific… Peace… In Solidarity,
April Ingham, Executive Director & Mua Va’a, President
Please donate today to help Pacific Peoples’ Partnership take action on climate change.
Guest blog by PPP intern Kiana Swift
I am half Tongan. I take immense pride in the values of my people. As a child, my mother taught my sister and I to dance in Tongan culture and immersed us in the customs of the Polynesian people. These lessons gave us a deep understanding of how to respect one’s elders and the importance of family. Through these experiences, I am able to reflect on myself and feel part of a greater purpose.
This summer I had the opportunity to begin working for the Pacific Peoples’ Partnership as a cultural liaison and media assistant. Pacific Peoples’ Partnership deeply believes in the power and value of bringing Indigenous peoples of the North Pacific into community with South Pacific Islanders. From stories told along the Coast of pan-Pacific relationships to similar patterns in culture and protocol across the ocean, we see much that suggests a connection between these distinct peoples.
But what do people and communities today have to say about this relationship? As a summer student with Pacific Peoples’ Partnership, I sat down to learn more.
It was exciting for me to discover how Indigenous peoples of Canada pass on the stories of their ancestors through song and dance, much like our own people. Indigenous peoples have an embracing and appreciative belief toward the land on which they live, grow and learn – as do South Pacific Islanders.
On Vancouver Island, we have many individuals with deep ties to both territories. I sat down with two of these individuals, Mua Va’a and Tina Savea, to discuss the possible relationships between the South Pacific Island community and local Indigenous communities.
PPP’s President Muavae Va’a was born and raised in Samoa. He immigrated to Canada where he met his wife Marie, a member of the Tsartlip First Nation. Tina Savea is Saulteaux Cree from the Keeseekoose community in Saskatchewan. She is married to Niu Savea, a Pacific Islander from Samoa. Both provided insightful reflections and had similar views regarding the possibilities between the two communities.
The first connection made by Mua had to do with each community’s relationship to the sea. “When we talk about the connections, we look to the sea,” he said. “The Pacific Islanders and here [Indigenous peoples of Canada] have respect and protocol for the land and waters.” The Pacific Ocean has provided beyond measure to our ancestors – and this is sacred in both territories.
Customs around valuing and embracing our elders is a big part of both peoples’ priorities, and both Tina and Mua agreed on this shared value. “The way we treat elders is very similar… they are very highly valued in our cultures,” said Tina. “We take care of them, serve them, and they are known to be the biggest people that we learn from.” Elders play an essential role in societies like ours – they carry knowledge, and it is through them that we discover the wonderful history of our people.
As a Tongan living in T’Sou-ke territory, I live away from my home territory. Likewise, both Tina and Mua resonate with a faraway territory. I posed a question to each of them about this dynamic.
“In being so far away from where our creation stories are rooted, where do we look for guidance while living in a different territory?”
Tina explained: “Even though we are from different places, we are still able to build bridges and connect. In Polynesian communities there is an automatic acceptance… they adopt you in, and don’t look at you as an outsider.”
By learning about the experiences of Indigenous peoples in Canada, I am reminded of home. These two cultures have had diverging histories in their experience of colonialism and globalization, which has created vast differences in communities today. For example, Pacific Islanders have always been able to learn about and take pride in their culture – whereas Indigenous peoples of Canada have been forcibly prevented from learning and practicing the teachings of their elders.
But by building relationships between the two, we are creating opportunities for cultural growth in the face of Western pressures.
“We need to make ourselves available and read how people live here…” Mua said, “I really hope as islanders we will come to that place and be able to support the people locally.”
“Sometimes the world isn’t open to us,” said Tina. “By being connected with each other, we can open up new places.” This posed an enlightening concept especially to me as a youth looking to travel the world. By seeking to understand and value another’s culture, I’m able to be reminded of my roots and to create opportunities to further my life experiences.
Despite the little amount of research done on links between the two cultures, there is a significant association. A question suggested would be: how do we further develop the relationship?
Tina explained, “ Actually seeing value in other cultures…sometimes we focus on ourselves but being able to see value in other cultures will able us to connect. Valuing someone as friend and make yourself aware of their culture. Look at the value of each other and then there can be a connection because if we think it has to be something huge it doesn’t have to be.”
This is an informative statement because when thinking of bridging a gap between two peoples, it can seem like an intimidating feat. However, as Tina stated, it can be as simple as letting someone into your life and having a willingness to understand their culture.
I think those of us who are blessed to be able to connect with our personal history and still practice those activities are always willing to share their knowledge. I say that because as being half Tongan I love informing people of my culture and how grateful I am to be a part of that. By spreading knowledge about my culture, I’m able to feel closer to my heritage.
The developing relationship between South Pacific Islanders and Indigenous people of Canada is a new community to look forward to. The positive outcomes this connection can achieve are beneficial not only to these two diverse groups but also to individuals in surrounding communities. The awareness of culture, traditional practices and humble attitudes of these groups enable respect the land, our elders, and a continued embrace of the customs of our ancestors.
On May 16, 2017 we hosted Community Narratives of Climate Change, an interactive panel at the University of Victoria in Victoria, BC Canada. The livestream event featured voices of South Pacific Islanders on the relationships between climate change, community, displacement and indigenous knowledge. The panel was hosted by PPP board member Eli Enns. Panelists included Selwyn Toa (Vanuatu), Eugene Lee (Borneo) and Mikaele Maiava (Samoa).
With Pacific Islanders widely portrayed as the first climate refugees, our panelists unpacked the disconnect between community based and global narratives of climate change, and how the climate refugee narrative interacts with Indigenous identities and histories of Pacific Islanders.
After the livestream we spliced together some of the words which best captured the themes and ideas that were discussed throughout the panel. The video above captured these highlights.
You can watch the livestream in its entirety here.