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Tŝilhqot’in national chief to tackle climate change topic in England

Chief Joe Alphonse will be part of panel discussion at the British Academy
Tŝilhqot’in National Government tribal chair Chief Joe Alphonse speaks at a memorial ceremony. (Tammy Haller photo)

Tŝilhqot’in National Government (TNG) tribal chair Chief Joe Alphonse will be in London, England to discuss climate change.

He will be taking part in a panel discussion at the British Academy about emergency preparedness and said he will be speaking specifically about the 2017 wildfires.

“The audience is going to be all professors,” Alphonse told Black Press Media. “With global warming being the issue that it is today and all the issues that stem from global warming - flood and fire management.”

Alphonse said the academy wants to develop its programming for students to deal with global warming in the future.

“They wonder if academics have a roll to play and they also wanted Indigenous perspectives and because of the report we did on the 2017 wildfires, they wanted someone to be part of the discussion and represent Indigenous views.”

In 2019, the TNG report The Fires Awakened Us (Nagwediẑk’an Gwaneŝ Gangu Chinidẑed Ganexwilagh) was completed.

Not only did the report highlight the experience of the Tsilhqot’in Nation in areas of jurisdictional, cultural and environmental issues, it also made 33 calls to action to address those issues.

It will be Alphonse’s first time talking to an audience of professors, he said, adding it should be interesting and exciting.

“We don’t agree with the way they fight fires here, how they manage forests. Things have to shift and change. I had a forest minister tell me the non-Aboriginal people of the Shuswap have expressed the same concerns so we have got to take it seriously now,” he said. “I told him, ‘ya, you got to take it seriously if it is a non-Indigenous group coming forward with it. Now you guys are going to finally act.”

Being part of the discussion will give the nation the opportunity to be recognized internationally, Alphonse said.

“It is only then that your local and provincal governments will take you seriously because they know you have international contacts.”

The 33 calls to action work to inform all levels of government, including recognition of inherent Indigenous jurisdiction in emergency response and recovery, improved equipment and infrastructure, and enhanced processes and protocols, noted a new release about the report back in 2019.

The British Academy is the U.K.’s national academy for humanities and social sciences.

Myanna Desaulniers, TNG director of operations, said Alphonwe also has some high profile meetings lined up in London while he is there.

READ MORE: Tŝilhqot’in Chief Joe Alphonse receives Honorary Doctor of Laws from UVic

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Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
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