By Kori Stene
In November 2019, not-for-profit organization ECO Canada, had the honour to partner with the Pacific Peoples’ Partnership (PPP) through an exciting 3-day climate action workshop, delivered to 80+ Indigenous youth of the Tsawout, Tsartlip, Tseycum and Pauquachin First Nations Groups near Victoria, British Columbia. Youth learned from Indigenous Knowledge Holders, Elders, Leadership and Climate experts from across the province and the country, while they engaged in activities and discussions that increased climate literacy, taught the importance of protecting our water and oceans, and instilled environmental stewardship among the younger generations.
It was rewarding to work alongside such a passionate group (PPP), connected through a common motive: protection of this planet Earth. The curriculum content for the Climate Connect Youth Workshop was built with the inspiring words of Elder Albert Marshall’s in mind: Etuaptmumk: Two Eyed-Seeing – “learning to see from your one eye with the best of the strengths in the Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing … and learning to see from your other eye with the best or the strengths in the mainstream (Western or Eurocentric) knowledge and ways of knowing … but most importantly, learning to see with both these eyes together, for the benefit of all”.
Being a non-Indigenous woman myself, it is beautiful to observe and learn from Indigenous ways of knowing; to harmonize my own Western science approach to climate change with the cultural, interconnections of traditional ways of viewing the world. Western science brings in the art of external observation, monitoring, and interpreting change through understanding impacts and looking at those impacts upon the human race. The Indigenous approach to climate change shines light on the impacts from within; to understand our relationship with Mother Earth and how taking care of the planet is so deeply aligned with the art of self-care.
This beautiful, balanced perspective of inter-cultural collaboration of Etuaptmumk encourages us to work together and to learn from each other. To remind us to bring our Traditional Medicine Wheel along with a geographical compass, when navigating solutions to positive environmental action. This workshop braided those two strengths together, inspiring 80+ youth to become ‘two-eyed seeing’ environmental stewards of their land.
One lesson that truly resonated with me from the workshop was simple, yet powerful, demonstrating the power of collective action. Imagine a room of 100+ people where they all clap at different times. The sounds are mild and sporadic. Now imagine those same 100+ people all clapping their hands at the exact same time. The sound is magnified, harmonized, and 100x louder than the previous. It sent the message to the youth that when our individual actions are combined together, we can make a larger positive impact.
Climate change is something we are all a part of we all contribute-to it, and we all feel the repercussions of it. The youth are the future. The future is now. It is essential that younger generations understand, relate to and take action for a cleaner and more regenerative future … regenerative in that it continues to provide abundance for future generations as Mother Nature always has, instead of leaving less behind.
Dealing with climate change requires coming together as a collective, finding strength in our differences, seeing the world through multiple perspectives, instead of only our own. Climate change is a many-layered issue that will take a unified, yet mosaic-like, systems-thinking approach to come up with a seven-generational solution. The change lies in our ‘two eyed seeing’ youth.
The workshop’s powerful message to youth participants is:
- You are stronger than you know and braver than you believe. Think big!
- You’re never too young to make a difference, so don’t wait until you’re older.
Kori Stene is the main Lead for ECO Canada’s Building Environmental Aboriginal Human Resources (BEAHR) program, www.eco.ca/beahr, having delivered 40+ training workshops across Canada. She has project managed many initiatives within ECO Canada including curriculum development for Indigenous Leadership in Energy Management and Climate Change Adaptation Training for Indigenous Leadership. Kori has carried out multiple environmental field studies in Canada, Ireland and Australia.
PPP would like to thank our friends at ECO Canada for their partnership and additional in-kind contributions. We also want to acknowledge RBC Royal Bank Blue Water Fund for their funding support of this program.