Human beings have forgotten their fate remains intertwined with that of the planet, Indigenous representatives reminded world leaders on Monday at a virtual event involving Canada and Mexico.

The two governments have taken up the work of examining “nature-based solutions” meant to help countries become more resilient in the face of a worsening climate crisis by taking advantage of elements already in the landscape in a sustainable way.

On Jan. 25, they organized a forum on that topic as part of the two-day Climate Adaptation Summit, which heard from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and other high-level officials.

“We should accept and honour our relationship with every form of life, and all the elements that represent the whole of creation throughout the universe,” said Adelfo Regino Montes, head of the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples of Mexico, during the forum.

“This is a basic component that human beings have unfortunately forgotten.”

Deputy Grand Chief Mandy Gull, from the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee in northern Quebec, explained how the nation has been working over the past 15 years towards enhancing levels of protection with the Quebec and federal governments.

The nation has been able to weave together two sets of data from the Quebec government’s approach to its biodiversity goals, and a Cree-led data collection effort with focus groups taking into account the activity of the full-time hunters and trappers who have developed a close relationship with the territory.

“The thing that was interesting was that traditional information collected on the Cree side highlighted almost entirely the same biodiversity target areas that Quebec had chosen,” said Gull.

“So culture and traditional knowledge go hand-in-hand because it is based on an extensive relationship that’s interwoven with the existence of our territory.“

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