Effects of climate change have long been observed by land-users in Eeyou Istchee. Shifting weather patterns, thinner ice, increasing forest fires, and decline in certain wildlife populations jeopardizing food security, are but a few of the many changes reported. As a resilient people, we have always found ways to adapt to environmental risks. However, the pace of these impacts felt in Eeyou Istchee where hunting, fishing, and trapping is still a major part of everyday life is alarming.
Over the years, efforts have been made to create awareness and adaptations to the impacts of climate change in Eeyou Istchee. Observations have been collected through a number of local and regional activities and workshops to find adaptations to ensure access to and safety on the land. The COMEX, a JBNQA-protected environmental review board, has already begun taking into consideration climate change when analyzing impacts from all development projects. Sensitive and high carbon-stock forests are being planned into regionally protected areas. Local greenhouse projects and Styrofoam bans have been contributing to the escalating social conversation in the Cree Nation.
Deputy Grand Chief Mandy Gull states, “The effect of climate change is a global affair. We must do our part for our families, our communities, our nations, and in solidarity with Indigenous communities worldwide. Through extensive and forward-thinking planning of key protected areas, the Cree Nation Government and local Cree communities are contributing to help counter the devastating effects of climate change and reduce impacts on a way of life that has sustained us for centuries. We must all find ways to take part in this global effort.”
Proposed government action must be inclusive of Cree observations and efforts in the fight against climate change. Our privileged relationship with the territory is fundamental to the proper and meaningful development of government policies on climate change for Eeyou Istchee. Government policies must take into account the experiences of Indigenous communities threatened by this ever-growing crisis.
“The Cree Nation has been proactive in observing and adapting to the risks of climate change threatening traditional activities and way of life. Communities understand firsthand the severity of this, but are also in a position to provide invaluable direction to policies. We insist that governments, federal and provincial, include the Cree Nation in the elaboration of climate change policies imperative to the sustainability of our development, a cornerstone of our 1975 JBNQA treaty.”, declared Grand Chief Dr. Abel Bosum.