Climate crisis threatens food security of Canada's indigenous people



A report released Wednesday by Human Rights Watch (HRW) warns that climate change threatens the Canadian indigenous food chain while accusing the Government of failing its commitments to greenhouse gas reduction.

The report, 'My Fear of Losing Everything: The Climate Crisis and the Right to Food of Indigenous Peoples in Canada', highlights that traditional food sources in Aboriginal communities are disappearing as a result of climate change.

At the same time, Canada is warming twice as fast as the global average, although in the north of the country, the second largest in the world after Russia, the speed is three times higher.

Candida, the tenth country that pollutes the air the most

HRW also highlights that although Canada is the 39th country in population (in 2019 it had 37.5 million people), it ranks tenth in greenhouse gas emissions, which is three to four times more per capita than the global average.

The NGO criticizes that despite these realities, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government has not set adequate targets to reduce its carbon emissions and that, even in these circumstances, Canada will not meet the objectives it committed to in the Paris Agreement.

Unattained climate commitments

"Canada has always failed to meet all mitigation objectives that have been set. The Government should finally realize its promise to act against the climate crisis with an ambitious emissions reduction plan by 2030 as part of its commitments to the Paris Agreement," HRW spokesperson Efe Amanda Klasing explains.

According to Klasing, the food crisis created by climate change is "dramatic" in the country's indigenous communities.

"We have documented children who go hungry to school. Old people who reduce their meals. Increased risks for those who are unable to follow diets prescribed by doctors. With Canada warming up twice as fast as the global average, these impacts are the harbinger that what's coming is worse," he says.

The dramatic situation of Canadian indians

To conduct the 122-page report, HRW interviewed more than 120 indigenous people in northern Canada as well as medical personnel, educators, environmental and health experts. The report's authors also reviewed academic research and scientific studies.

In several of the localities studied, the inhabitants warned that they suffered dramatic reductions in the amounts of food they could collect, as well as increasing difficulties and risks in procuring food from the territory.

Increased thaw, increased thermal ascent and more fires

In particular, climate change changes ice and permafrost conditions (a layer of soil that is permanently frozen), increases the number and intensity of forest fires, raises water temperature, alters precipitation, and makes weather conditions more unpredictable.

And while indigenous communities are trying to deal with the climate crisis with traditional methods, such as community food distribution networks, or new ones, such as the creation of climate change impact monitoring systems on their environment, HRW believes that they are not supported by the Canadian authorities.

"Subsidies, health resources and others needed to respond are often unavailable, insufficient, or not reach those who need it most," the authors say.

Ottawa is committed to ensuring the food security of indigenous people

"The Canadian government is committed to working with indigenous people to respond to food insecurity and climate change. The last time was in the September 2020 throne speech," he stresses.

"There is not much time left for these promises to be fulfilled and made a reality for indigenous people, who are most affected by the climate crisis," Klasing says.

Klasing notes that Ottawa's commitments to work with the country's indigenous people to respond to food insecurity and the climate crisis need to be supported by concrete funding actions or will become new broken promises by the Canadian government towards the country's Aboriginal people.