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Deusdedit Ruhangariyo
Special to ICT

Around the world: Young leaders demand a greater voice for Indigenous people in finding climate solutions, an Ontario community returns land to a neighboring First Nation, the Shuar community in Ecuador wins land protections, four Yukon First Nations purchase air ambulances, and an Aboriginal man has died in a Western Australia prison.

ITALY: Youth leaders demand climate inclusion

Young leaders attending the Fridays for Future International Meeting in Turin, Italy, called for greater inclusion of Indigenous people and local communities in climate solutions, Mongabay.com reported on July 29.

The meeting – which came amid a heatwave and wildfires across Europe – ended in a strike for climate action on Friday, July 29, Mongabay.com reported.

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Fridays for Future, known as FFF, is a youth-led global protest movement that started in August 2018 when 15-year-old Greta Thunberg began a school strike for climate action outside the Swedish parliament. The group has now spread to more than 750 cities, with students periodically staging strikes from school on Fridays to press for climate action.

In Italy, the Indigenous protesters underscored the growing wave of violence against Indigenous and local communities around the world when they defend their traditional territories.

CANADA: City gives land back to Serpent River First Nation

The City Council of Elliot Lake, Ontario, in Canada voted to return a small parcel of municipal waterfront land to the neighboring Serpent River First Nation in what it called "an act of reconciliation and economic development," CBC News reported on July 31.

The piece of land, which is 1.6 hectares or about four acres, had been transferred to the municipality by Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources in 2003.

Elliot Lake Mayor Dan Marchisella said the transfer is an important step in rebuilding relationships with Serpent River First Nation.

"If we can start making the proper steps towards a future and looking at seven generations to come, it's going to be a brighter future for our children, our grandchildren, and be good for the whole region," Marchisella said, according to CBC News.

Serpent River First Nation Chief Brent Bissaillion said that while the relationship is good now, the history between the two communities has been troubled at times.

"Our relationship is, I would say, complicated in some ways because there's a lot of hurt and there's a lot of environmental devastation and a lot of health issues that come from that sulfuric acid plant," he said, according to CBC News.

According to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, the territory around Elliot Lake was home to 12 uranium mines that operated as recently as the early 1990s.

ECUADOR: Shuar community wins fight for land protection

An Indigenous Shuar community in Ecuador has gained national protections for part of its territory after decades of fighting off deforestation and pollution in its diverse rainforests, Mongabay.com reported on July 28.

Ecuador’s National System of Protected Areas now contains the 5,497-hectares (about 13,583 acres) of ancestral Tiwi Nunka Forest, which provides a home and and sustenance for the Shuar Indigenous community of El Kiim.

The ruling means that the land is safe from future exploitation, including mining, cattle ranching, and agricultural encroachment — actions that have troubled the community’s 35 Shuar families for decades, Mongabay.com reported.

The area is home to many of the community’s ancestral traditions, such as collecting and making medicines and performing ritualistic waterfall baths, It also provides crucial biodiversity for the mountain tapir and spectacled bear, and a source of clean water for the community.

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“We’re protecting the forest because these are the last trees we have for wood and medicine,” said Washington Tiwi, a resident of El Kiim and former head of the community, according to Mongabay.com. “Some species, such as bears, howler monkeys and tapirs, are protected from disappearing. Our children and future generations can see them and know that these species exist and are protected.”

CANADA: Yukon First Nations buy ambulance planes

A group of four Yukon First Nation development corporations have bought two King Air 350 airplanes from Alkan Air and leased them back to the company, CBC News reported on July 29.

The planes have been used as air ambulances to carry patients from the territory to British Columbia and Alberta, and will continue to operate the medevac flights, officials said.

"We look at this as … diversifying our portfolio of investments,” said Stephen Mooney, president of Kluane Dana Shaw Limited Partnership, one of four First Nations development corporations involved in the deal. “And it's investing in the Yukon, and we're interested in that.”

The other First Nations corporations involved in the deal are the Na-cho Nyak Dun Development Corporation, Selkirk Development Corporation, and the Haa Chali Development Corporation, according to CBC News.

The deal will not change the operation of medevac services in the territory, said Wendy Tayler, president of Alkan Air.

"Alkan Air is the operating company and will continue to provide the air ambulance service to the government from an air ambulance perspective," Tayler said, according to CBC News.

AUSTRALIA: Aboriginal man dies in Casuarina Prison

A 32-year-old Aboriginal man who spent most of his life in prison was found unconscious in his cell at Casuarina Prison in Western Australia and later was pronounced dead, National Indigenous Times reported on Aug. 1.

Officials did not provide the cause of his death but noted there were “no suspicious circumstances” associated with it. He was set to be released from prison in 2026.

The death brought renewed calls from Mervyn Eades, one of the state’s prison suicide task force members, for the prison to allow Aboriginal community advocates and leaders to go in and speak with prisoners.

“The Western clinical approach is failing our people drastically,” he said. “They are giving these young men crushing sentences … We need an Aboriginal approach. We need a community approach.”

There have been more than 500 Indigenous deaths in detention in Australia since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Detention released its findings in 1991.

Final thoughts

My final thoughts this week are with the family of an Aboriginal man who died in detention in Western Australia. More than 500 Indigenous deaths in detention have been reported and this is yet another. Something should be done; we shouldn’t continue losing lives like this.

And lastly, let me share with you Article 6 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Article 6
Every indigenous individual has the right to a nationality.

Global Indigenous is a weekly news roundup published every Wednesday by ICT (formerly Indian Country Today) with some of the key stories about Indigenous peoples around the world.

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