North

Gwich'in Tribal Council deputy chief shares frustration from UN climate conference

Jordan Peterson went to COP 25 in Madrid, Spain, this week. Here's what he took away.

'I actually feel really emotional right now,' Jordan Peterson told CBC while at COP 25

Jordan Peterson, deputy chief of the Gwich'in Tribal Council, went to COP 25 because he wanted to educate people on porcupine caribou conservation and to see meaningful action on climate change from governments. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada)

The deputy chief of the Gwich'in Tribal Council says he felt frustration and sadness while attending the UN climate change conference in Madrid, Spain, this week.

Jordan Peterson of Inuvik, N.W.T., went to the conference because he wanted to educate people on porcupine caribou conservation and to see meaningful action on climate change from governments. 

Since 1995, world leaders have come together annually at the Convention of the Parties (COP) to negotiate how to address the global crisis of climate change. This year was COP 25, and the meetings ended Friday.

"It's frustrating. It's sad," said Peterson during an interview mid-week with CBC North Trailbreaker host Loren McGinnis. Peterson pointed out that it has been difficult for parties and government leaders to come to an agreement on several issues.

We're not alone in this fight.- Jordan Peterson, Gwich'in Tribal Council deputy chief

"I actually feel really emotional right now," said Peterson. "It's a lot, man." 

He said a lot of young people were emotional, especially at a youth panel they attended. The negotiation session was meant to be four hours, but he said the parties couldn't agree on an insignificant point.

"We wasted an hour and a half on what to call their meeting, when they're supposed to be negotiating the future of humanity."

From left to right at COP 25 in Spain this week: Dakota Morris, Jordan Peterson, Vuntut Gwitchin Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm, Steven Nitah. (Submitted by Jordan Peterson)

But Peterson said there was a sense of hope at the climate conference, especially from the young people around the world.

"They're still hopeful, which is really amazing to see. They've been able to come together to raise their voices and speak out about the protection of their future."

'Not just happening to us'

Peterson said there were three back-to-back presentations on topics including the porcupine caribou herd and renewable energy projects in the North — and attempts to gain more international support.

"It's not just happening to us as northern, Indigenous, Gwich'in, but it's happening to Indigenous people all across the world." 

Peterson said the message he wants to bring back to his community is: "We're not alone in this fight."

"[We] have amazing Indigenous partners from across the world that want to support us, and we need to support them in their fight," said Peterson.

Peterson said Indigenous knowledge from elders and ancestors must be a part of these conversations.

"I truly believe Indigenous knowledge is the solution to climate change."

Written based on an interview by Loren McGinnis, produced by Rachel Zelniker

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