As Indgenous people attending COP26, things can feel complicated.
So many of the issues impacting our people are not well represented.
Our people are not well represented.
But today was a day that felt good.
We started the day with a panel at the U.S. Climate Action Center on Indigenous Resistance to the Line 3 pipeline. In addition to Kyle, Nicole, and I, Great-Grandmother Mary Lyons, Ron Turney from Indigenous Environmental Network, Representative Frank Hornstein, Ellen Anderson of MCEA, and Julia Frost-Nerbonne of MNIPL joined the panel.
It felt like happenstance, as we hadn’t planned to have Great-Grandmother Mary Lyons join us, but we found her at an action outside our panel right before it began. In addition to being a revered Anishinaabe elder in Minnesota, she has really been a critical figure in keeping the fight against Line 3 centered in prayer, ceremony, and Anishinaabe values. It was truly a blessing for her to join us, and she opened up our panel in a good way.
The panel flew by, as it does when you only have an hour to squeeze nearly a decade of activism in. It was exciting to have Nicole be able to provide context from her experience at Standing Rock, and Kyle there to ground things back in the cultural and community impacts of the pipeline beyond the environment.
Immediately after our panel, we went to an action taking place inside the conference about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, which felt like the most appropriate place to be after talking about Line 3, which provided cover for so much violence against Indigenous women.
The action was one of the most powerful I’ve ever been to. I cried for almost the entire thing, because the speakers, who came from everywhere from the Amazon to Vancouver, were beautiful and powerful. The wind picked up and it felt connected to the righteous rage they belted into the microphone.
Being in spaces like that, truly in community with Indigenous women from around the globe is an invaluable, unmatchable experience. One that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
Nicole and I had to sit for a bit afterwards just to recenter ourselves and wipe our tears. Singing and dancing with those women, listening to their words, was so much to take in. The sun was shining in a rare moment of warmth next to the River Clyde, and for that moment, things felt okay.
I hope you’ll watch the video of this action. It is a gift from those women to all of us.
Those are the voices that should be in the plenary sessions of this conference.
Those are the voices the world needs to hear.
Ashley Fairbanks is the Creative Director of 100% Campaign. She is a member of Climate Generation’s Window into COP26 Delegation this November. She is a passionate organizer for issues like stopping the Line 3 pipeline, Indigenous rights, and police abolition. Learn more about Ashley and subscribe to follow her experience at COP26.