In May 2017, a group of Pacific Islanders travelled half way across the world to visit the Canadian tar sands.
Justin Trudeau’s recently approved pipelines will unleash catastrophic climate change — for Pacific islanders this means rising sea levels threatening their homes, communities, and cultures. The Pacific Climate Warriors embarked on this journey in order to bear witness to the project responsible for unleashing destruction on their homelands. Along the way, they built solidarity with Indigenous Peoples in Canada whose traditional territories are threatened by tar sands.
Watch the trailer to get a glimpse of this journey:
“If fossil fuel expansion projects like Kinder Morgan proceed, we are the first to disappear” — Raedena Savea, Samoan activist and Pacific Climate Warrior
By approving projects like the Kinder Morgan pipeline, Prime Minister Trudeau broke his promise to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and his promise in Paris to keep global warming under a 1.5°C limit.
Climate change is happening here and now, perhaps nowhere more directly than in the Pacific Islands like Kiribati, Tuvalu the Marshall Islands and so many more. For Pacific Islanders, tar sands expansion means rising sea levels that are threatening their homes, communities, and cultures. While for Indigenous communities, new expansion projects and pipelines approved despite opposition are a further violation of their rights and destruction of their territories.
The impacts of tar sands expansion are connected around the world, and so is the resistance. Stand with Indigenous peoples on the front lines and pledge to take action to keep tar sands in the ground.
Thanks for taking action.
Photo Credit: Fenton Lutunatabua
Where did the Pacific Climate Warriors go and when?
This delegation of Pacific Warriors first travelled to the Alberta tar sands and to the Indigenous communities on the front lines of the fight to stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline on the West Coast of Canada. The tour included cultural exchanges, shared ceremony and public events.
May 8th- 10th – Tar Sands Visit in Fort McMurray & Storytelling in Edmonton
On these days, the Pacific Climate Warriors visited the tar sands to bear witness to the source of destruction, and meet with the Indigenous communities resisting Canada’s most toxic industries from the front lines. They also held a public speaking event in the city of Edmonton.
Facebook live from the aerial journey over the tar sands:
AJ+ Coverage of the journey through the tar sands:
The Tsleil Waututh First Nation hosted the Pacific Climate Warriors for a ceremony on the Burrard Inlet to honour the sacredness of water. Together, over 100 people including the Warriors and the Coast Salish First Nations paddled to the Kinder Morgan terminal for a water blessing ceremony.
Facebook live from the canoes in front of the Kinder Morgan terminal:
AJ+ Coverage of the Water Ceremony at the Kinder Morgan terminal:
At this event, powerful stories were told by a dynamic panel of Pacific Climate Warriors and leaders in the Indigenous resistance to the tar sands. As well, there was a premier of the director’s cut of the Raise a Paddle documentary.
Watch the live stream of the speaking event — apologies for the technical difficulties:
Photo Credit: Zack Embree
Who are the Pacific Climate Warriors?
Responding to world leaders inaction on climate change, a network of young Pacific Islanders began to rise peacefully to protect the Pacific Islands from climate change. Since then, their simple and immensely powerful message has commanded attention globally: we are not drowning; we are fighting.
Active in 15 of the Pacific Island Nations, they stand up to those blocking action on climate change and empower young people to take action to protect their communities, cultures, and Island homes.
The delegation of Pacific Climate Warriors who travelled to Canada:
Koreti Tiumalu is a Samoan climate activist who was born and raised in Wellington, New Zealand. Koreti is the Pacific Region Coordinator for 350.org and works with the Pacific Climate Warriors. One of the key objectives of 350.org in the Pacific is to find new and innovative ways to raise global awareness of climate realities experienced in the islands that are uniquely Pacific and to engage local communities impacted directly by climate change. Koreti was a part of the blockade of the Newcastle coal port in Australia, and a three-day prayer vigil using fine mats at the Vatican in Rome in October 2015.
Raedena Savea is a Samoan climate activist. She was born in American Samoa but was raised in Apia, Samoa. Raedena is an active member of the Siusega Methodist Church, the YWCA Samoa and Leadership Samoa. She mentions that she is constantly inspired by her mother and does everything that she can to protect her family and her island home.
George Giuvalu Nacewa
George Giuvalu Nacewa is a Fijian climate activist from the village of Yavulo, in the disrict of Nasigatoka in the province of Nadroga. Traditionally he belongs to the Etuba Clan of the Kesuna Tribe. Within his clan, his traditional role is as the ‘batileka’ or the Chiefs guard. His Clan is identified by the unicorn fish and he wanted to include all this information because for him, identity like all things iTaukei (indigenous Fijian) is communal as much as it is individual. So to introduce himself he has to introduce all his ancestors before him. Two of the notable campaigns George was involved in were a blockade of the Newcastle coal port in Australia, using traditional hand carved paopao (canoes) in 2014 and a three-day prayer vigil using fine mats at the Vatican in Rome in October 2015.