Climate Voices

November 16, 2017
By: Aurora L. Conley, Window Into COP23 Delegate

Indigenous Women's Day

I’d like to give my apologies for not posting yesterday, I went back to the apartment in the evening intending to take a small nap and woke up 16 hours later!!! It was much needed rest and very appreciated!

Today was Indigenous Women’s Day at COP23. I was given tobacco by some of the Indigenous delegates to represent North American Indigenous Women. It was truly an honor. We started at the Gender Caucus, laying out flowers, candles, and water with each region – Africa, Pacific, Latin America, North America, and the Arctic – each saying an invocation. We are all Indigenous women from the forests, plains, oceans, rainforests, deserts. Many women wore their traditional regalia, wish made me wish for mine – for moccasins, ribbon skirts.

Our Pacific sisters shared a poem, regarding their Creation Story with Father Sky and Earth Mother. How the first human, a man, was created from Earth Mother’s red clay and so they were separated. Sky Father was so hurt and lonely, he cried so hard the ocean was made from his tears. They went on to say that love is not red, it is aqua, turquoise, blue… I was so moved to hear another creation story. We all have one. We all have our stories. Those are the most important. Everything today will be a part of our stories and futures as well. That’s why it’s so important we represent, and stand up. It truly was a great event. I was so moved and honored to represent.

I spoke about our connections and that we as North American Indigenous women stand with our Latin American, Pacific, African, and All Indigenous Women! There are 370 million Indigenous people in the world, according the United Nations. That means about half are women. That means that there are approximately 115 million Indigenous life givers on Earth. That we carry that life, giving water. That we are the water protectors. That we carry the future and nurture it in our wombs, our veins, in the ground, the Earth. Injustices against women are injustices against Mother Earth. Injustices against Mother Earth are injustices against women. All of our struggles are connected, from Bad River to Standing Rock to the Pacific. So are our solutions, remedies, healing, and power! Sharing with each other, praying for and with each other, connecting, and building strong alliances is how we are going to ensure that our peoples, cultures, lands, and waters survive.

I spoke of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, that they are thought of, prayed for, missed and fought for. With the implementation of industry, violence against women increases.

I shared Lisa Bruner’s quote from Honor the Earth’s Man Camp Fact Sheet in regards to injustices against women.

“They treat Mother Earth like they treat women… They think they can own us, buy us, sell us, trade us, rent us, poison us, rape us, destroy us, use us as entertainment and kill us. I’m happy to see that we are talking about the level of violence that is occurring against Mother Earth because it equates to us [women]. What happens to her happens to us… We are the creators of life. We carry that water that creates life just as Mother Earth carries the water that maintains our life. So I’m happy to see our men standing here but remind you that when you stand for one, you must stand for the other.” —Man Camps Fact Sheet

Many sisters came up and hugged, shook hands, and we supported each other. Norwegian sisters stated they stand with the North American women against the Black Snake, that they’ve worked hard on divestments in Norway. I was choking back tears. Thinking of home, the battles that little Bad River face, how we struggle even to gain support and solidarity for each other at times between tribes and communities. Thinking of the Makwa Line 3 camp by Duluth, MN fighting Enbridge, that Bad River passed resolution not to renew the easement for Line 5, which runs through 13 miles of our lands, of LCO who did sign with Enbridge. These communities are all within an hour of home.

It brings me to the afternoon press conference that was held by the It Takes Roots delegates regarding Carbon Trading. Chief Ninnawa from Brazil is here with the delegation. He spoke, saying the first thing that happened when they came with their plans was divisions in communities. I see that. We all do. It creates chaos, confusion, and even emotional pains. By continuing to stand strong, be supportive, voice our stories and concerns, and practice our ways we can keep ourselves connected and strong. It is so important that we support each other, so important that we speak and be heard.

Miigwetch. Ni Guh Izhi Chigay Nibi Onji – I will do it for the water

Mni Wiconi- Water is Life