Indigenous perspective must be heard on climate change, Regina conference told

A climate summit hosted in Regina on the weekend showcased different perspectives about climate change and how to move to a future that doesn't rely on fossil fuels. The Indigenous perspective was one of them.

Indigenous people have solutions, if Canadians are willing to listen to them, Michelle Brass says

The Just Transitions summit, hosted in Regina between Oct. 27 and 28 featured a variety of presentations looking at climate change and the impact it could have on people in Saskatchewan. (Bryan Eneas / CBC News)

A conference in Regina about making the transition from a carbon-based economy to one with a greater reliance on renewable energy provided attendees with new perspectives, including an Indigenous one.

Justin Fisher, a member of Climate Justice Saskatoon, an urban environmental group which presented at the conference, said a just transition away from fossil fuels needs to include everyone, including Indigenous communities.

I urge Canadians to look at what we have to offer, follow our lead.- Michelle Brass, Indigenous Climate Action

Fisher said he's been conducting research for the last year, working with communities who rely heavily on natural resources to sustain themselves. He said a report summarizing Climate Justice Saskatoon's work would be published next month.

He said he learned a lot from Michelle Brass of Indigenous Climate Action.

"She emphasized that, as Indigenous communities, they're not going to wait for somebody to try and save them," Fisher said. "They're really trying to take on that work and have Indigenous-based solutions and really raise the profile of Indigenous knowledge and solutions to these problems."

Providing an Indigenous perspective

Brass was one of the presenters at the event held Saturday and Sunday at a school building in Regina.

Brass, who is also a former CBC Radio host, called for any discussions around climate change to include an Indigenous perspective because Indigenous people have experienced their own societal collapse, similar to what she foresees coming due to climate change.

"Look at our Indigenous communities, there's so much love, and there's so much laughter despite all of the pain and intergenerational trauma that we've been through," Brass said. "I urge Canadians to look at what we have to offer, follow our lead."

She said while Indigenous communities may not have all the solutions for Canadian society's problems, Indigenous people have solutions around how to transition away from fossil fuels and survive.

Building deep relationships

Brass said the relationships she built over two days of networking with other participants were "deep" and "amazing."

"People here are ready to move forward and take action, and not just talk," Brass said. "We're seeing the different ways we can collaborate and that capacity can be built faster than otherwise would happen."

She said groups were finding overlaps while figuring out how to help each other out in addressing climate change.

Brass said the transition away from fossil fuels will be a "sloppy, messy process," but it needs to be done.