“[I fight] so that future generations will have the resources and assets they need to survive on a planet that’s being destroyed every day.” — Miriam Miranda, a leader of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH), which defends Indigenous land rights and natural resources.
Earth Day is an annual event celebrated across the world to draw attention to the needs of the environment and connect people back to nature.
The land that we now call Canada is on Indigenous land. Indigenous have always had a relationship with this land. A relationship founded on mutual respect. As part of Earth day we encourage people to reflect on the history of this land and the impacts of colonization on it and its original peoples. All of our bodies are reflections of the land. When we pollute the land and extract it’s resources the health of those who live on it suffers too. When we protect and care for the land our bodies grow strong beside it.
All people who live on this land share the history and the continuing impacts of colonization. It is not just the history of Indigenous peoples or settlers of the past. By living on this land, it is part of your history and present too. Colonization is the process by which Europeans took over this land (what we now call Canada) from the Indigenous peoples who live here. It began with the racist idea that Indigenous peoples are “uncivilized” or “less than” European people. These unjust and inaccurate ideas were used so that the European settlers and their descendants would not question the abuse and discrimination used on Indigenous peoples while taking resources from their land. Colonization is rooted in the history of contact between Europeans and Indigenous peoples but it continues today.
Want to help?
We can all speak out against the land injustices in Canada. You can learn about the inherent land rights Indigenous peoples and share the information with those around you. There are many examples of resource extraction and construction that is hurting the land, the water and impacting Indigenous communities.
- Manitoba Hydro is often sold as ‘clean energy’ to those of us living in cities and away from the damage. It’s includes a history of forced relocation, creating unsafe water and flooding out areas which turns the environment and surrounding ecosystem on its head. Learn more about some of the impact of hydro.
- Another example is the lack of clean drinking water in many communities. Two-thirds of all Indigenous communities in Canada have been under at least one drinking water advisory at some time in the last decade. Some communities continue to be without clean water for over 20 years now. This is a direct impact of colonization on this land.
- Climate change has recently been shown to be impacting Northern Canada the most, with the region warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. This is changing the weather, making for shorter winters (less winter road access) and dryer summers which increase forest fire risks. It also affects the animals of the land which play an important role in peoples food systems and traditional ways of sustainable living.
While colonization continues to impact both people and the Earth, it’s also important to acknowledge has always been Indigenous resistance to what is happening. People, groups and communities continue to push back on both colonization and environmental impacts. The more we all know and care about the land, the better it will be protected. Petition, organize and protest what’s going on. Look for active groups that exist in your community or start one yourself. It is only with people speaking out, that the land can be preserved and restored.