Inuit stand with the Indigenous peoples of the Amazon: ICC

“We recognize our critical part as Inuit, alongside our Indigenous brothers and sisters”

“What happens in one part of the planet has impact on us all,” says Monica Ell-Kanayuk, the Inuit Circumpolar Council president for Canada, on Tuesday, Aug. 27, about the raging fires in South America’s Amazon region. (File photo)

By Nunatsiaq News

The international circumpolar organization representing Inuit in Alaska, Canada, Chukotka and Greenland has sent a message of solidarity to Indigenous peoples living in the Amazon basin, and expressing concern for what the fires now burning in the region’s rainforests mean for the global climate system.

“Transformation of the Arctic landscape, and of Inuit lives and livelihoods that are intricately tied to this landscape, will only be accelerated and further devastated by the raging forest fires in the Amazon that are raising global temperatures and fueling further melting of sea ice and glaciers,” the Inuit Circumpolar Council’s president for Canada, Monica Ell-Kanayuk, said on Tuesday, Aug. 27, in a press release.

“What happens in one part of the planet has impact on us all.”

Inuit Nunangat homelands are already experiencing “catastrophic climate change,” she said.

The 7.4-million-square-kilometre Amazon basin is home to one million Indigenous people, and about three million species of plants and animals, said the ICC, pointing out that the region is critical for regulating climate change, as its forests absorb millions of tonnes of climate-warming carbon emissions each year.

But during rainforest fires, the carbon stored in the trees is released into the atmosphere, and the rainforest’s ability to absorb carbon is diminished.

“The massive impact on the planet’s carbon balance will have consequences for regions far from the Amazon, including the Arctic,” the ICC release said.

The ICC international chair, Dalee Sambo Dorough, said the ICC is “very concerned” about reports from Indigenous leaders in Brazil about the government of Jair Bolsonaro.

“It’s unconscionable to hear that his government has unleashed an assault on Indigenous peoples by turning a blind eye, allowing farmers, ranchers, and miners to exploit deep into the Amazon rainforest—their homelands,” she said.

Many are uncontacted tribes that have no firefighters, no means to put out these devastating fires.”

Due to the fires, Amazonas, the largest state in Brazil, has declared a state of emergency. Venezuela, Bolivia, Columbia and Peru have also reported thousands of forest fires.

“Countries which tout the importance of Indigenous rights have an obligation to press Brazil to change its current path,” Sambo Dorough said.

“We applaud the French government for putting it on the agenda of the G7 Summit in Biarritz, and calling it an international crisis.”

At the G7, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States announced they would provide US$20 million to fight the fires, with France sending military assistance.

Canada plans to send an additional C$15 million and water bombers, the ICC noted.

The map above shows active fire detections in Brazil as observed by NASA satellites between Aug. 15 and Aug. 22.. The locations of the fires are shown in orange. Cities and towns appear white; forested areas appear black; and tropical savannas and woodland (known in Brazil as cerrado) appear grey. (Photo courtesy of NASA)

The ICC also praised actions such as online petitions urging the European Union and the United Nations to put sanctions in place forcing the Brazilian government to address the problems related to deforestation.

“We believe that other countries, including Canada, can also play a strong role,” said Ell-Kanayuk. “Canada has a duty to speak out.”

With the UN Climate Action Summit now less than a month away and the annual UN Climate Change conference set for December, she said “there is no better time, indeed no more urgent time, to raise ambition and increase climate action internationally.”

“We recognize our critical part as Inuit, alongside our Indigenous brothers and sisters, and we call on governments to support Indigenous peoples and to respond as an emergency like this requires.”

Fires have also been burning in Alaska and Greenland over the summer, such as the one in Qeqqata, smouldering since early July.

Share This Story

(6) Comments:

  1. Posted by Vernetta Moberly on

    Many of the World leaders; some are an embarrassing Lot…supposedly supposed to be intelligent and wondrous visionaries on behalf of the human kind and social justice; their supposed to do their best and not think of the ‘money bags’. They should Man up especially if their uneducated about the ecosystem, and have more empathy for the health Of Mother Earth. Their education comes from Indigenous People globally in understanding the Laws of the Land many indigenous People are accustomed to. And their teachers are us indigenous people who live world wide, who know how to live in harmony w/the Land, Water, Air and even Fire. Our ancestors are always willing to be of help starting with the first encroachment of foreign people. But, many World Leaders aren’t thinking right, their doing it the wrong way on many levels. Now fire is consuming the ‘Lungs of The Earths atmosphere” as we speak, and that’s dangerous. Why is Their vision is to burn the majestic strong and mighty trees that create lots of oxygen, and to replace them with thin blades of grass to justify oxygen for Earths inhabitants, just to support the farmers and miners? And not mentioning the poor animals, insects etc., that are part of ecosystem are rapidly being extinct by destroying their home. Thank you to start a focused conversation on behalf of ‘all’ human race…working together as indigenous Peoples to get Earth back in order by being more assertive in this time and era.

    • Posted by Green Room on

      Thanks for starting this dialogue, Vernetta. Here are some thoughts. The romantic notion of the indigenous person as the caretaker of the earth is based in partly in fact, and partly in fantasy. The spirit of the idea is worth cultivating, on the one hand, but should also be taken with some caveats. The majority of people in the modern world want a more concerted response to the demands for an eco-centered adaptation to our planet. Still, the conditions of modernity demand specific technical responses to an eco-sustainable lifestyle. This is something we can do and is possible. I don’t think we will find those responses in the idealization of an imagined past though. I would even suggest that obscures the path to real progress.

    • Posted by Mahnig Karin on

      Please continue speaking out and also share your message on instragram and Snapchat (there is where you reach young people) on LinkedIn (where you reach managers and leaders) as well send to all local newspapers of the world (an pr agency might do that). And also politicians of the world. There is almost no press coverage here about the fires. 🌈🌳🌍💪

  2. Posted by Arturo Gonzales on

    What a tremendously important statement. Maybe she should fly down there and inspect the site. Lend a hand and all that.

  3. Posted by Tommy on

    Mere words, nothing else, just words. Travelled thousand of kilometers to say those words. She even said it, a duty to speak out. Send a water bomber or something, you know, to make the organization more legit. These are just words which JB probably won’t even want to post.

  4. Posted by Nino Denis on

    Increased world fires, triggers increased flooding and water pollution in terms of increased silitation and degradation of fragile ecosystems.

Comments are closed.