The COP26 conference, held in Glasgow until November 12, ended with an agreement that many consider insufficient to curb global warming. But beyond these reactions, UdeMNouvelles wanted to know how Samuel Reinville, Coordinator of the First Peoples’ Center for Student Services at the University of Montreal, lived his experience as a member of the Canadian delegation to this large University of Montreal conference. United Nations Climate Change Organization.
“Seeing people from all over the world coming to discuss and negotiate the same issue, which is the fight against global warming, is impressive in itself,” says Samuel Reinfell. Certainly, the ambition of civil society and the youth is always greater than that of the decision-makers of our planet.”
So he is not disappointed with this experience. What surprised him most was to see Canadian civil society united behind one goal. “Community organizations and environmental groups and unions really work together to build a strong scientific argument for governments: It was my favorite.”
Samuel Renville also met on a number of occasions Stephen Gilbolt, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, who was at the center of the negotiations. “He believes in science and it is important to have someone like him representing Canada at these meetings,” he said.
Prime Minister François Legault and Benoit Charette, Quebec’s Minister for the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change, are also on the list of politicians Samuel Reinville has met. “The youth group that I was a part of asked for an advisory committee on the climate issue,” he says. Personally, I have raised the links between climate action and environmental racism. Indigenous communities are among the first to feel the impact of global warming. We felt like we were being listened to.”
Get to know the indigenous leaders
Samuel Reinvill, a member of the Bissamet urban Innu community, was excited to meet with indigenous community leaders from all over the world. “A lot of people came from the Americas, but very few came from the Pacific,” he says. Not all indigenous communities can afford to send representatives to a conference in Europe, in the midst of a pandemic, when vaccination is not affordable for everyone. Some communities cannot risk bringing COVID-19 home.”
Dialogue with Aboriginal peoples from different regions allowed Samuel Reinfell to see the connections between the communities. “Indigenous values are similar all over the planet and they have experienced the same kind of consequences of colonization,” he says. Various societies are also on the front line of climate change and are demanding protection of areas.”
Samuel Reinfell feels privileged to have been able to participate in COP26, and he hopes that many young Indigenous people will have the same luck as he did in the years to come. He also believes that issues of human rights and climate justice will take an increasing place in future COPs (the Conferences of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change).
“There are wrong solutions in the Paris Agreement and the Glasgow Climate Charter,” he said. We’re talking about carbon offset, for example, which allows companies to buy the right to pollute. This will not achieve a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. And this is always done at the expense of people suffering from the effects of global warming, such as the indigenous population. There are already climate refugees in the world.”
According to him, it will therefore be necessary to talk more about the concept of losses and damages associated with global warming. “We must fund the exit from oil and the transition of disadvantaged countries toward a greener economy, but we must also fund initiatives that will allow poorer communities, especially indigenous peoples, to better adapt and be more resilient in the face of climate change.”
In this regard, he was particularly moved by the words of the indigenous leader from Chad, Hindu Omaru Ibrahim, present at COP26: “We are not here as victims, we are here, because we have solutions.”
“I think his words express Aboriginal potential very well,” Samuel Rainville says. We have to put this potential first.”
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