The proposed Keystone XL pipeline from TransCanada is having a profound effect on the people who call the middle west of the country home. Training for Resistance is an organization and training event started by Debra White Plume, a long-time organizer and activist against uranium mining in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Her newest endeavor is bringing together hundreds of First Nations, environmental activists, local ranchers and small grassroots organizations.
Training for Resistance tour, which is making its way across Greater Sioux nations, territories and reservations to educate and equip people with the necessary tools for resistance. The trainings, which began in March on the Pine Ridge reservation, focus on direct action and teach-ins on tar sands and the Keystone XL, with roots in the Lakota way and tradition
You can read the full article, and learn about the impact it has already had, here
For over a century the Lubicon Cree people of northern Alberta, Canada, have been fighting against the Canadian government to protect the 10,000 square kilometers of forests, plains, rivers and muskeg, or wetlands, they call home. Treaties have been signed and violated, construction of extractive industry manufacturing plants have invaded the territory, and millions of liters of oil have destroyed the fragile ecosystem that is the muskeg. The people who were once able to support themselves amidst the clean air, water and land that was full of animals, plants, medicines and berries have been polluted and drained, and the people are now more than ever dependent on government social services. All this is compounded by the fact that the Lubicon Cree have been unable to finalize a land claim in court, due to the Canadian government’s determination to keep the proceedings in limbo owing to the lush and varied natural resources that exist within its borders.
How many more communities have to be put at risk for this type of development, and who is really benefiting? What are we leaving to future generations? We need to shift away from a fossil fuel-based system and push for renewable energy systems that enable us to be self-sufficient and self-sustaining.
This November 4th – 6th, WEA hosted our first Advocacy Training, in partnership with Indigenous Environmental Network. We’re proud to share that the Training was a success.
Our Training took place at the David Brower Center in Berkeley, CA, which is located on Ohlone territory. Muwekma Ohlone elder Ann Marie Sayers opened the Training on Friday morning with a welcome and blessing.
Over the course of these three packed days, participants formed new partnerships, shared intensive dialogue, and learned key tools and strategies for advancing environmental justice with Indigenous peoples. The Training also yielded several mandates for WEA’s integral forward motion, as we continue deepening our relationships and our legal and policy advocacy work for environmental justice in collaboration with grassroots Indigenous women leaders.
The Training engaged approximately 35 advocates as new members of the WEA Advocacy Network – a great boon to the stability and longevity of our work. Participants were almost entirely advocates who were not previously involved in the Advocacy Network. Our participants came from all over the United States, representing some of the following organizations: Center for Biological Diversity; Earthjustice; International Accountability Project; NAACP; Three Degrees Project; University of Denver Environmental Law Clinic; and many more.
I just wanted to extend some gratitude for having the opportunity to take part in such an enriching and wonderful event. I left the training forever changed. I look forward to being part of the vibrant and wonderful advocacy network and also continuing to take part in the other elements of WEA.
We were honored by participation and presentations from representatives from 18 Indigenous-led groups, and 7 non-Indigenous groups with a history of strong alliances with Indigenous peoples. Presenters and facilitators provided critical, foundational knowledge to participants on the process of building successful alliances, tools and strategies for success, and current needs for legal and policy advocacy support.
As a Native person, a practitioner, and an attorney, I found it very inspiring and helpful to strategize in a way that’s real and that’s culturally grounded – this is something very rare, and has given me a lot of hope for the work that I do.
Many of the Indigenous groups represented at the Training, as well as several others, shared requests for advocacy collaboration through our docket. Already, first-level discussions have been initiated towards 11 collaborations between grassroots Indigenous activists, with the legal and policy advocates who participated. Please stay tuned for more details about the specific advocacy initiatives that arise from the Training, and the next steps for WEA’s North America program.
Thanks to WEA’s organizational partner, Indigenous Environmental Network; Steering Committee members – including Jihan Gearon (Dine’) of Black Mesa Water Coalition, Debra Harry (Kooyooe Dukaddo) of Indigenous Peoples’ Council on Biocolonialism, Winona LaDuke (Anishinaabe) of Honor the Earth, Toby McLeod of Sacred Land Film Project, Tia Oros Peters (Zuni) of Seventh Generation Fund, Carolyn Raffensperger of Science and Environmental Health Network; our lead facilitator Roberto Vargas, all the WEA staff and volunteers who produced the Training, all those who contributed financial resources towards the Training, and most of all, everyone who attended and gave so much of themselves towards the success of our first Advocacy Training.
North American indigenous communities face both acute and chronic challenges resulting from environmental degradation. In response to the systemic and intentional targeting of indigenous lands and communities for environmentally-destructive industrial projects such as mines, hazardous waste facilities, oil refineries and coal-fired power plants, the indigenous environmental justice movement – a grassroots-led movement with national impact – has arisen within the past several decades to demand sustainability and equity.
WEA’s North America Program links our Advocacy Network of pro bono legal, policy and business advocates nationwide with indigenous women leading grassroots environmental campaigns in North America.
This November, WEA will host its first ever Advocacy Training, “Building Capacity for Strategic Collaboration on Indigenous Environmental Justice.” In solidarity, leaders in environmental and indigenous advocacy will come together to:
Learn :: Hear from leading activists and advocates on best practices for protecting land and health, and advancing renewable energy on Indigenous land.Connect :: Build a community of collaboration with the rapid response WEA Advocacy Network and long-term Working Groups.Act :: Map advocacy strategies using proven and emerging tools.
Be sure to check back with us as we get closer to November, and in the mean time, click here for more information!