With Canada day coming up and the recent news of the finding of hundreds of graves of Indigenous residential school children, I would like to discuss the Indigenous Land Back Movement and how we all can work to support it, rather than celebrating Canada Day, a day that represents hundred of years of systemic oppression and genocide for Indigenous populations. I would also like to thank the BIPOC environmentalists from Alphabets.Abc on Instagram for helping with the main flesh of this post.
Indigenous people represent only 5% of the world’s population, yet they are the true stewards of the land as they help protect 80% of the world’s biodiversity. Up to 2.5 billion men, women, and children, including more than 370 million Indigenous people, rely on land, natural resources and ecosystems – forests, rangeland, and wetlands – that are held, used, or managed collectively by Indigenous people. It is so important to protect these resources for the benefits of everyone on Earth.
The Land Back movement advocates for the rightful return of all public lands to Indigenous peoples. Over the years the movement has gained significant support from many non-Indigenous, young people who, growing up in the midst of the climate crisis, are becoming increasingly conscious of how toxic our existing systems are to people and the planet. Colonialism, modern-day imperialism, and white supremacy are responsible for seizing previously-governed Indigenous lands and displacing Indigenous people to reserves far away from the land that used to sustain them.
But the Land Back Movement goes beyond the transfer of public lands, and also advocates for Indigenous rights, preserving languages and traditions, and ensuring food sovereignty, housing, clean air, and water.
- Dismantle white supremacy structures that forcefully removed Indigenous people from their lands and continue to keep them in oppression.
- Defund white supremacy and the mechanisms and systems that enforce it and disconnect Indigenous peoples from stewardship of the land.
- Return all public lands back to their rightful Indigenous hands.
- Consent. Moving Indigenous peoples out of an era of consultation and into a new era of policy around Free and Prior Informed Consent.
Supporting the Land Back Movement is necessary because colonialism is the root cause of so much destruction, from the genocide and displacement of Indigenous peoples to devastating our planet. Indigenous practices and knowledge will help us address climate change and other environmental and equity challenges. The Land Back Movement will help decolonialize our relationship with the land. This includes rejecting our existing extractive and exploitative relationship with the planet. Land reparations for Indigenous peoples means our planet can finally breathe and heal, making our world safer for everyone.
Building a better world means first acknowledging the harm caused by existing systems so we do not repeat our mistakes.
What can you do?
- Research and learn more about the history of the land you live on and have access to.
- Acknowledge that you are on stolen land and name who it was stolen from.
- Learn more about the Land Back Movement’s efforts close to where you live, and start building relationships with these communities.
- Demand the inclusion of Indigenous communities at key government decision-making tables that are responsible for public lands, water, and natural resources
- show up and support the causes, struggles, and movements led by the Indigenous tribes, community groups, and leaders in your area.
Cover art by Angelica Frausto