Skip to main content

Earth Hour Holds Special Significance for Indigenous Peoples: Atleo

  • Author:
  • Updated:

A wave of lights-out has been enveloping our planet as Earth Hour sweeps around the planet for Saturday, March 29.

Begun by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF, formerly the World Wildlife Fund) in 1961, the movement has grown to encompass governments, cultural landmarks and individuals.

This year, as usual, was kicked off in Australia, where landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge went dark or were dimmed. For most of us at the eastern edge of Turtle Island, that was Friday night. Today, on Saturday March 29 we get our chance. To observe, simply turn off all lights and other electrical appliances and gadgets from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time on Saturday evening.

More than 7,000 cities in 154 nations were set to observe Earth Hour today, according to ABC News in Australia. The day has special significance for Indigenous Peoples, said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo in a statement honoring the gesture.

Scroll to Continue

Read More

“First Nations are the original stewards of the lands, the waters and all life and we support efforts to raise awareness of the need to respect and protect our environment,” Atleo said. “Action on environmental issues like climate change is a global imperative for Indigenous peoples as it impacts our ability to care for our traditional territories and access our traditional foods, medicines and sacred spaces. We owe it to the next seven generations to ensure that our cultures and traditions remain strong and that our descendants inherit a healthy and safe environment.”

He noted the close relationships that many First Nations have with the land, dating back millennia, and the changes that have become apparent with the advent of global warming.

The WWF started the initiative as a way to draw attention to energy consumption. It has since become a time to reflect not only on that but also on climate change and other challenges facing our environment and thus our survival. The video below illustrates how the movement has taken root in the collective consciousness.