Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) Chief Allan Adam shared Indigenous knowledge with Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.
The pair met in Fort McMurray on Oct. 18, 2019, shortly after Thunberg participated in the climate protest in Edmonton, Alta.
Chief Allan Adam said his discussion with Thunberg, who asked to meet with the leader of the ACFN, was positive.
“We had a great discussion and we’re happy that she’s choosing to educate herself about the local Indigenous peoples perspective as part of her tour of Alberta.”
He also spoke about the ACFN’s transition to the green energy sector and its pursuit of a carbon-neutral economy.
Chief Allan Adam said despite the challenges, they’re making it work for the future of the First Nation.
“In Alberta, we have a regulatory system that leaves us no choice: Either you oppose a project only to have it rubber stamped by the regulator and then you get nothing, or you work with industry to push them to adopt cleaner practices, while generating some employment for our members. It is far preferable to be on the inside to try to influence it.”
The construction of the solar farm in Fort Chipewyan is an example of the ACFN influencing change.
3 Nations Energy will develop the farm as the community shifts away from relying on diesel fuel.
Chief Adam said climate change is a real concern in his community.
“The Far North experiences climate change three times faster than the more temperate regions to the south. We aren’t talking about a one- or two-degree Celsius change here, we are facing a shift of up to seven degrees within our lifetimes. Our people don’t have the luxury of turning a blind eye to climate change.”
He also said the ACFN partnered with other First Nations and levels of government in other conservation and wildlife projects.
Finally, Chief Adam hopes Thunberg’s visit to Alberta will broaden her perspective on the lives of Indigenous people in Canada’s North.
“We were pleased that Greta wanted to meet with us and learn about our traditional ways of life and our plans for the future.”