By Rick Garrick
WIKWEMIKONG UNCEDED TERRITORY — Two Wikwemikong elementary school students emphasized the effects of climate change during an international radio interview at the Nov. 25-28 Children’s Climate Conference in Sweden.
“It’s kind of hard to live in a place that is wrecked,” says Francesca Pheasant, 12, during the Nov. 26 Radio Sweden interview. “If climate change does keep on going on and getting worse and worse, I think it’s just going to get harder and harder to live.”
The radio interview is available at: sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=6311895.
“I think they should start a business where there can be people that clean up the shorelines and clean up the water and make sure our water is OK, because a lot of things need that water, including us,” says Autumn Peltier, 11, during the radio interview.
Pheasant, Peltier and about 62 other children at the Children’s Climate Conference developed a communique — Act like a kid! — that was delivered by three of the children at COP21, the United Nations’ 2015 Paris Climate Conference held from Nov. 30-December 11 in Paris.
“I hope they do listen, because we need a lot of things to stop,” Peltier says. “They should be listening but they don’t sometimes. And if we complain more, maybe they could.”
The communique begins with: “We are kids, and we will fight to save the world!” It ends with: “Act like us kids – and fight to save the world!” A film version of the communique is available on Youtube at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TSiJBldp1A.
The two Wikwemikong students travelled to the Children’s Climate Conference with chaperone Bernadette Shawanda and her husband Maheengun Shawanda, owners of Great Lakes Cultural Camps. Pheasant and Peltier were participants in the Great Lakes Cultural Camps Native Student Leadership program over the past two years.
“They were excited once we got there to hear different languages spoken,” Bernadette says. “They had all kinds of games and the one game that stood out for me was the card game Uno. That was a real ice breaker for a lot of the children.”
Bernadette says it was an honour to participate in the conference, where she shared what she knows of the land and learned about what is going on in other parts of the world.
“Even though the children were doing their talks, all of us adults were doing the same thing,” Bernadette says. “And we would visit with the children and share some of our experiences.”
Bernadette says the participants spoke about how their countries are affected by climate change.
“Everybody talked about the warming weather, the changing of the water and how it is affecting their countries,” Bernadette says. “(The Chinese) talked about the typhoons and how they are getting a lot worse, they are more severe. And in the south Pacific, they are changing, they do not come as much as they used to but they are very harsh.”
Bernadette says the children were “so passionate” during the conference.
“Their speeches were incredible,” Bernadette says. “I wish (more) adults were there to witness that. I think that would make change and make things happen, because I felt it and all of us adults that were there … felt that. When you hear it right from their voices, oh man it just hits you really hard and, yes, you can feel what they want.”
Bernadette wishes all of the children had been given the opportunity to present the communique at COP21 instead of just the three children.
“Because they are pleading, they are begging for us to make changes.”