Arriving at COP27

Tia, Yusra, and Clifford
Delegates Tia Kennedy, Yusra Shafi, and Clifford Mushquash at the airport after arriving in Egypt for COP27

After a long day of travel, I am ready to take on COP27, although I am cautiously optimistic and mindful about what will actually come out of my experience. Before my departure I did a live interview that touched on the arrest of climate activists. In my response, I talked about the regular criminalization of land protectors in Canada. This interview has really made me think of the persistent injustices that our Indigenous peoples face, especially in relation to land protection and land stewardship. This is the first year COP has an Indigenous Peoples’ Pavilion, and I look forward to hearing from people who have always had the solutions to climate change.

I’ve been doing a lot of praying while embarking on this journey. Usually, during prayer I have an opportunity to reflect deeply and find my own answers. When we arrived in Cairo, my friend sent me an Instagram post about all the planes arriving at COP27. It made me think about last years’ outcomes and how we had invested so much, including the health risk of our planet with planes, and yet no unanimous commitment made. Even though there was no clear agreement last year, the fact that Indigenous voices have a space and are being included in these conversations this year is a win for me.

When I arrived in Egypt, I was really excited. I love learning about other cultures. Every time I travel, I learn so much. It’s very eye opening. It allows me to learn a different perspective of seeing the world. I brought my mom to Paris with me last year and she had a huge culture shock. It was nothing like she had ever witnessed before. It made me think of my dad and many Indigenous youth, like myself, who have never been outside of Canada and the U.S. before.

Being here is so much more than me. Being here as the most authentic version of myself is such a blessing and I am so grateful for it. I look forward to listening, learning and bringing back new-found knowledge, while also thinking about ways to bring more opportunities like this to other Indigenous youth. I’ve already had friends and community members message me about how proud they are of me, and I have been asked to post lots of photos and videos for them to see. I’m grateful and I will pray that people make the necessary decisions to help our planet.

By Tia Kennedy, Oneida Nation of The Thames and Walpole Island First Nation. KAIROS/For the Love of Creation Youth Delegate.

Filed in: COP27, Ecological Justice

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