40 activists, organisers and other grassroots from Sápmi gathered in Jokkmokk this weekend for a skillshare on climate and justice. In this blog, Jenni and Olivia share their story of this weekend’s “Sámi grassroots – a skillshare on climate & justice”.
The indigenous Sámi people live in the Arctic region of Sápmi, a region which stretches across the borders of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. People here are already living with the impact of climate change: The weather patterns have changed and made their traditional ways of life – whether it’s reindeer herding or fishing – very difficult.
But as the COP21 climate talks in Paris are approaching, youth and adults from all over the region want to rise up to face this challenge – and they will do so together, continuing to resist exploitation of their land but also promoting the future solutions they would like to see.
Us Sámi grassroots are mobilising against the root causes of climate change which is threatening our way of life. There is a strong link between climate change and exploitation of the planet and we cannot continue with the extractive mindset of today.
We are part of a global movement for social and climate justice. We know that other indigenous communities stand with us in our cause to protect the land and Mother Earth, here in Gállok and in places all around Sápmi.
While we have to find a way to live with climate change we must also fight to stop it. We will do this by protecting our land and sharing our experience & knowledge of living in harmony with the Earth.
After an empowering weekend we are ready to envision a different kind of future. We have begun to decolonise ourselves this weekend and to imagine a future in balance. This has been a healing process for me and many others.
This weekend, we shared best practices from anti-mining struggles and discussed what climate justice means to us and made up plans for the future. We met new insights and made new friends. We built the network of Sámi grassroots stronger and together we have grown more powerful. On Sunday, Jenni held a talk about indigenizing oneself and connecting to the land and each other:
Disconnectedness, it´s all about that we have lost the connection. Connection with life, the land itself and each other. When we do not have the connection with the Earth, we don´t love, respect or listen to it. The natural world is being destroyed and that is causing even more disconnections.
I meet a lot of people who don´t know who they are, where they are coming from and where they are going. So many lost souls, who feel powerless because they are disconnected. And I feel sorry. The land is not taking care of them and they are not taking of the land.
The Earth cannot take this attack. The land where we are living is suffering and therefore we are suffering. We must change course now, because saving her is the only way to save ourselves. We have to change how we relate to the Earth and re-connect with it as a people. A deeper engagement is possible when we remember that we all belong to each other – we need to reconnect with each other, too. We need each other. When we are connected, we love life and are free to act for it so that we don´t want to destroy it. Because you do not destroy things that you love, but you respect and take care of them. This is power.
My heart is bleeding, when the Earth is bleeding. Earth is the mother, Earth is the beginning, Earth is the end. Nothing defines us better than the Earth. The question is all about land and land is the answer. We are made of the land, and without it, our language and culture won´t survive. Land is the ecological, spiritual and cultural base for the survival of the Sámi.
According to our ecological, traditional knowledge, you take what you need and then you give back into the land. Our philosophy is based to the relationship between the land and us, and to the principle of giving and taking. It is a balanced life-style. That is our sustainable economy, which is our key to survival. A way to indigenize our existence is back to the roots, past is the present, past is the future.
Because of the thousands of years of symbiosis with the Earth, we still speak “Earth”. We still are in dialogue with the Earth. Earth informs us how to live here. It gives everything we need to survive. According to our knowledge: if nature is not kept healthy, humans don´t survive. Environmental activism for me is not only about land, it is also a way to protect my people, our language and culture.
This movement and our fight to protect Gállok from mining exploitation has given me so much and taught me lot of things. One of the learnings is that we can and should all reconnect with the land, but also reconnect with each other. We all belong to each other and we all are connected in one way or another. Gállok taught me also that no other loves me as much as the land. And there is nothing I love more than the land. Land is my healer, land is my guardian. By that love from the land, I´m that land, and I´m that power.
We still can speak “Earth”, we still have this connection, we still have the knowledge of how to take care of the Earth. This means not only that we have the solutions, but that we are part of the solution to reach a sustainable, resilient world.
We cannot keep waiting. We have being waiting for too long. The time for change is today and there is no change without protest – so resist, protect, react, mobilize and challenge. Protect your land. Land is life. There is no alternative to water. Water is life. Protect the water. How the world will be in the future is up to us, here and now. So listen to us, because we still speak Earth.
Press link for more: Olivia Linander | gofossilfree.org