Column: Working together will not be enough to fight the climate or reconciliation if inequalities persist

These are perilous times – the trifecta of a pandemic, climate change and war involving superpowers certainly qualifies – and getting there will take courage, resilience and love.

These are perilous times – the trifecta of a pandemic, climate change and war involving superpowers certainly qualifies – and getting there will take courage, resilience and love.

Several unrelated events this week made that clear. First, the University of British Columbia organized an event on education and climate change, second, the provincial government released an action plan to strengthen the rights of indigenous peoples, and third, the representative of the British Columbia for Children and Youth released a report on discrimination against some Aboriginal children.

Author Naomi Klein and her husband, filmmaker Avi Lewis, who now teach at UBC, spoke at the event about climate justice and educational responsibility.

Climate anxiety, coupled with other events like the discovery of unmarked graves in boarding schools or the housing crisis or food insecurity, heightens all of our emotions. Inequality, Klein said, “makes the impact of the climate crisis far more deadly and more socially divisive.”

Lewis said educators have a responsibility to provide a response to students’ anxiety and grief, and offering stories about the future is one way to do that by making transformative change easier to imagine.

Learning about climate champions like Greta Thunberg or Anishinaabe water activist Autumn Pelletier can boost confidence.

“Having these stories makes a huge difference for young people to feel like they can change the world,” Klein said.

We need to try new things, like using music and art to start emotionally dealing with the climate crisis, rather than keeping it in our heads, Klein says.

“I think we need all the tools to honestly open our hearts,” Klein said.

The idea of ​​breaking our hearts aligns with what Chief Jerry Jack of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation said during the provincial government’s announcement this week of the action plan to continue implementing implementation by the province in 2019 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. .

He spoke about communities dealing with COVID-19, wildfires and floods and the importance of working together.

“If we are to be part of transformational change and meet the challenges of our generation with integrity, wisdom and love, we must all work together,” he said. “Love is a strong word. This is how we should treat each other, even if we have disagreements.

Jack was among several Indigenous leaders who spoke out in support of the action plan, which would be the first of its kind in the world, with many saying working together is essential for progress.

Prime Minister John Horgan said so too.

“Working together, we can do almost anything,” Horgan said. “If we keep fighting with each other, if we keep disagreeing in the moment, we will fail.”

Disagreements are inevitable, he said.

“But that doesn’t take away from our mutual commitment to do all we can – our best – to make British Columbia a better place for children, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, who should by right inherit a province and a better world than the one we inherited.

Which brings me to the third announcement.

The BC Representative for Children and Youth reported that child welfare funding in BC discriminates based on whether a child lives on or off reserve and by whom they are served. .

“The findings of this report are troubling,” said Rep. Jennifer Charlesworth. “This leads to gaps and inequities that have no place in a province committed to reconciliation.

Horgan spoke of learning from both the sorrow and the joy of the past, of working together to create a better world for children, even mentioning the unmarked graves found near residential schools, but meanwhile the Indigenous children of today are discriminated against right here in British Columbia.

Children’s Minister Mitzi Dean said a new fiscal framework will ensure BC’s Indigenous children, youth and families are supported no matter where they live.

“We know we still have a lot to do together,” Dean said.

There is still this sentence: together.

Working together is crucial, yes, but until the inequities exposed by Charlesworth and other injustices are addressed, true reconciliation or addressing climate change will not be possible. If we want to talk about love and working together, basic human rights must come first. Inequality and discrimination will only make matters worse.

Tracy Sherlock is a freelance journalist who writes about education and social issues. Read her blog or email her [email protected]