Michelle Brass and Melanie Goodchild came to UNBC to talk about the relationship between climate change and indigenous peoples, during “Inspiring Women Among Us” week. Michelle started off the conversation by announcing that we are all going to have to start having uncomfortable conversations. Uncomfortable in a way that it may be about tragic moments in history, and how to try mending relationships that were broken long ago (such as those between colonizers and aboriginal communities).  Or maybe topics that are highly controversial, such as climate change in itself. That being said it shouldn’t be controversial as 97% of scientists agree climate change is human caused by greenhouse gases- but controversial in the way that there are climate change deniers. Uncomfortable topics need to happen in order to acknowledge our mistakes, accept responsibility, and try to make a change before it is too late.

I learned some new facts about indigenous culture, such as the existence of water and fire walkers, further encouraging me to go learn more from my own Métis culture. I can consider incorporating traditional ecological knowledge into my project on chickadees, but I feel there is little importance on chickadees in the aboriginal culture, since they do not present any resource benefits and aren’t as noticeable as larger megafauna.

I enjoyed the semi-formal panel discussion, and you can tell how passionate the speakers were about their topic, and trying to encourage change. They acknowledged the importance of relationships and respect with the land, the animals, and other cultures, as opposed to the typical European “colonizers” of late, taking with little giving. I think a shocking revelation was when they said that indigenous communities contribute the least to climate change, yet are impacted the most. Further emphasizing the need to come together to reverse the impacts of climate change as a whole.

All in all, it was a interesting talk, with passionate, intelligent women trying to better the world one talk at a time.