Infused with the spirit of their ancestors and unwavering determination to seek accountability and justice, an Indigenous Women’s Divestment Delegation will travel to Switzerland and Germany from April 20th to 28th, 2018.
Despite rights violations and dangers to the health of the global climate, some of Europe’s most powerful banks and financial institutions continue unethical financing of fossil fuel projects. The Indigenous Women’s Divestment Delegation is highlighting human rights and Indigenous rights violations, requesting divestment and accountability from companies responsible for these harms.
The Delegation of Indigenous women leaders from across North America and allies will engage with political leaders, representatives of financial and insurance institutions, civil society groups, and members of the media to share stories, data, and calls to action for immediate movement towards fossil fuel divestment, and a transition to a just, clean energy future.
While obstacles are many, previous delegations have illuminated the power and potential for successful results, as Indigenous women leaders meet eye-to-eye with representatives of the entities responsible for immense cultural and ecological devastation in their home regions.
Spotlighting destructive projects such as Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access and Bayou Bridge Pipelines, Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain Pipeline, and Enbridge’s Line 3 Pipeline, advocacy efforts are aimed at accountability and divestments by Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and other companies that are endangering rights and neglecting Indigenous People’s right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) as outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
There will be a special event in Zurich, during which Swiss elder women activists will formally welcome the Delegation to Switzerland, strengthening alliances and solidarity between women’s networks, and between nations to bring well-being to the world.
Spring 2018 Indigenous Women’s Divestment Delegates comprise both frontline community leaders, and tribal officials who serve or have served in official capacities for their Tribal Nations, including – Charlene Aleck (Elected councillor for Tsleil Waututh Nation, Sacred Trust Initiative, Canada); Dr. Sara Jumping Eagle (Oglala Lakota and Mdewakantonwan Dakota pediatrician, living and working on the Standing Rock Reservation, North Dakota); Michelle Cook (Diné/Navajo, human rights lawyer); Wasté Win Yellowlodge Young (Ihunktowanna/Hunkpapa of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Former Tribal Historic Preservation Officer); and Monique Verdin (Member of south Louisiana’s United Houma Nation Tribal Council and the Another Gulf Is Possible Collaborative) – with Osprey Orielle Lake (WECAN International Executive Director and Delegation organizer). [Full speaker biographies are available here].
Efforts are centered in Switzerland and Germany, two countries which house several of the world’s largest financial institutions supporting dangerous extraction projects across Indigenous territories in the U.S. and globally – despite purportedly high ethical and human rights standards.
The Indigenous Women’s Divestment Delegation is facilitated by the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International in partnership with Indigenous women leaders and their directives, as part of a growing movement pursuing institutional divestment as an effective strategy to hold banks and fossil fuel related companies accountable to Indigenous rights and protection of land, climate and water.
A public event will be held in Zurich on April 26th with short films and panel discussion.
“Kinder Morgan investors need to know there is great uncertainty in the TransMountain pipeline expansion project. I am traveling with the Delegation to share the immense risks we are asked to bare and how committed we are to oppose this project.” explains Charlene Aleck (Elected councillor for Tsleil Waututh Nation, Sacred Trust Initiative, Canada)
“Everyday we live wondering when the day will come that our people will not have access to drinking water — pipelines leak. We are trying to plan for that day. In the midst of poverty and a legacy of oppression, we fight to live, to love, and to ensure our sovereignty. When the businesses and banks you invest in, are funding the poisonous Dakota Access pipeline flowing under the Missouri River, so are you. Know where your money is going.” explains Dr. Sara Jumping Eagle (Oglala Lakota and Mdewakantonwan Dakota pediatrician, living and working on the Standing Rock Reservation, North Dakota)
“States in the U.S. are imposing laws and severe punishments to criminalize those who protest harmful resource extraction. Despite the abuses which occurred at Standing Rock, many of these banks continue to sign on and renew their financial commitments to the companies involved. Our goal is clear: there must be justice and accountability for banks and corporations. Due to legacy of colonial laws in the United States which fail to recognize and adequately protect indigenous rights we must humbly appeal to the international community for their intercessions. Indigenous peoples are in danger, we need Europeans to act, to divest, to organize within their respective nations to make their banks accountable for indigenous human rights abroad. We need Europe to stand and fight alongside us. Together in unity, acting as one, in the spirit of mutual aid and defense, we will achieve peace and security for our climate and collective future.” explains Michelle Cook (Diné/Navajo, human rights lawyer).
“Our Delegation’s presence puts a face to the indigenous communities and lives who have been displaced, abused, and adversely affected by extractive industries throughout the world. We are here to call for accountability for the destruction of our way of life and rights violations that at occurred with the Dakota Access Pipeline and other ongoing pipeline projects funded by European financial institutions such as Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank.” explains Wasté Win Yellowlodge Young (Ihunktowanna/Hunkpapa of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Former Tribal Historic Preservation Officer)
“I come from a place just south of “Cancer Alley”, just north of the “Dead Zone.” This is in Louisiana and it used to be known as Balbancha in our language. My Houma ancestors have inhabited the Yakne Chitto (Big Country) for thousands of years. We are surrounded by a web fossil fuel pipelines, a culprit responsible for contributing to some of the most rapid land loss in the world, in an area with a unique and high level of biodiversity. Yet, the risks and vulnerabilities have not deterred Energy Transfer Partners or Phillips 66 in their ultimate pursuits to push dirty crude through precious territories. It is with a heavy heart but also hope, that I am journeying with the delegation across the sea to remind and re-warn the European banks funding and facilitating the pipelines about the devastating damage, bad practices and false promises of these companies. They are gambling with the sacred waters and life source for the Houma Nation, indigenous communities, and everyone tied to the Mississippi River Watershed , from North Dakota to the Gulf of Mexico, and they must be held accountable.” explains Monique Verdin (Member of south Louisiana’s United Houma Nation Tribal Council and the Another Gulf Is Possible Collaborative)
“Divestment from dirty fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure demonstrates a commitment to our collective future and the web of life. What is needed from financial institutions now is a show of leadership and dedication to ecological sustainability, and human and Indigenous rights, as we face the unprecedented challenges of a world plunging into climate chaos. Indigenous women have long bore the brunt of extractive industries, and despite this, shine powerfully with solutions to the harms that come from these destructive practices. Banks need to listen to Indigenous women and adhere to their demands, which are founded on requests for basic respect for obtaining free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous communities, as required under international law. WECAN International stands with the representatives of the Indigenous Women’s Divestment Delegation and is calling for justice and accountability from financial and insurance institutions engaged in fossil fuel extraction. Business as usual cannot continue. Now is the time to move forward towards a clean and healthy future for all.” explains Osprey Orielle Lake, Executive Director of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International.
About The Women’s Earth & Climate Action Network (WECAN) International
The Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN International) is a solutions-based, multi-faceted organization established to engage women worldwide as powerful stakeholders in climate change, climate justice, and sustainability solutions. WECAN International was founded in 2013 as a project of the 501(c)3 Women’s Earth and Climate Caucus (WECC) organization.