Justin Trudeau via Twitter
In the front, from left to right: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, British Columbia Premier Christy Clark, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard. In the back: AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, Conservative environment critic Ed Fast.

Indigenous Peoples Know How to Care for Our Planet: Justin Trudeau at COP21


What has seemed like a no-brainer to Indigenous Peoples for centuries has finally been uttered by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada at the COP21 talks in Paris.

“Indigenous peoples have known for thousands of years how to care for our planet,” Trudeau said in his speech at the talks on the opening day, November 30. “The rest of us have a lot to learn. And no time to waste.”

Also on hand was Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde, who along with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed and Congress of Aboriginal Peoples National Chief Dwight Dorey is among the indigenous leaders who formed part of the delegation from Canada.

"I have been meeting the Canadian delegation, international delegates and Premiers at COP 21 to present a clear message that the rights of Indigenous peoples must be recognized in the final text of the treaty being negotiated here and all follow up actions," Bellegarde said in his speech. "Our rights must be respected and protected. States must understand that giving life to Indigenous rights is the most effective way to combat climate change.  When we have control over what happens in our traditional territories we will make decisions that are responsible and sustainable."

Bellegarde was one of four leaders representing Canada at the opening plenary, according to an AFN media release, alongside Trudeau, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Dion.

Separately, Bellegarde addressed delegates on November 30 before the Coordinadora de las Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica (Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin) at an event that recognized “the global nature of climate change and the spirit of solidarity and cooperation shared by Indigenous peoples worldwide,” the AFN said.

Trudeau vowed to “work with our provinces, territories, cities and indigenous leaders who are taking a leadership role on climate change” and “help the developing world tackle the challenges of climate change.”

“Canada is back, my good friends,” Trudeau said. “We are here to help.”

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