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COP21: Sustaining All Life

Indigenous voices from around the world

This event was facilitated by a group called Sustaining All Life. Their group's focus is recognizing the deeper wounds regarding climate change and corporate resource extraction that leads to environmental degradation. I listened to many voices in a series of three minute sharings. I think we do not really understand the impacts of climate change until we hear real people's stories. What follows are some of the stories shared:

Maui, Hawaii's own Nameaaea Hoshino

"Our waters are rising. We have our connections to place, to land but our politicians and corporations are not listening to us. There is a saying, `I ka wa ma mua, i ka wa ma hope, The future is in the past. If we do not pass on our knowledge we will not be able to move forward. He ali'i ka 'āina, he kaua ke kanaka, The land is our Chief and we are its servants. These are the stories that we follow..."

Federation of Women in Peru
"We fight for our lands the government keeps giving away. Without indigenous peoples as farmers, there is no food. As women we do not wish to be seen as subjects, because we are strong and brave. Women do not smile easily because we have been violated in our own homes...but we are not giving in. We have learned how to be tough, to stand and to state our rights and to claim them. We need support. Especially economic support in solidarity that we may continue to make a stand. We now make and sell things for this reason, while we continue to work the land."
(This woman brought beautiful bags and pouches to sell at COP21)
Sister Tina from Brazil

J"ustice, peace and care for our environment now grips the world. The mining is destroying our planet! In 2014 on December 5th two huge mining accidents happened in Brazil. These were caused by human intervention. Now there is no water to drink."

This woman is here to support the COP21, to support our planet. She stands as the voice of her brothers and sisters, for the many people who cannot afford to be here but want to be.


"Climate change is based on the relationship between trade and the environment."

Trade = profit

Environment = relationship to the land

She has pursued education because she could see her forest being cut down at massive rates in Madagascar. She now works with NGO’s to begin fair trade options for preservation and harvesting forests while keeping in mind the families who live in the forests.

Sahara Desert, Tuareg People

"Aruba is an ancient land divided between five countries now. My home is a wide open space the size of all of Europe, yet very remote. There is no place to get information. In this part of the world, the drought is killing our people. There is no water."

The Heart of Africa, Congo
"The forest are the lungs of the Congo. 70% forest and 30% Savanna. Large multinational companies are cutting down trees. The Government says they will replant the forest but they have brought in toxic chemicals that kill the soil. There is no life in the soil and animals are dying. The silver backed gorilla will be extinct in 20 years. We want parks and preservation to address the problems of the large multinational corporations. We need to find solutions to keep our forest intact."
The area she is from is translated into English to mean "general mines." (The name of this place has been taken...) "This is where the catastrophe happened. There is a dam the companies did not build correctly. The dams broke. The mud and what flowed downstream destroyed 39 cities. The mud is toxic from the iron ore. Two rivers have been contaminated. The rivers look like mud all the way out into the ocean. This is the biggest catastrophe Brazil has ever had and the biggest mudslide in the world. Now millions of Brazilians have no food to eat or homes to live in."

Thank you,

Kelley Janes