The Mahinekura Reinfelds Declaration from Snowchange 2008

The Mahinekura Reinfelds Declaration

in memory of an Indigenous Maori leader,
educator and great communicator
from the tribal group Ngati Mutunga

We, the Undersigned Representatives of those Indigenous Nations and other peoples associated with the Snowchange Symposium in December 2008 at Waitara, Taranaki, Aotearoa /New Zealand who witness daily the destruction of our Mother Earth through the thoughtless actions of humanity, make the following statement:

On this 7th day of December in the year 2008, we commit ourselves to those principles contained in this solemn Declaration.

For the sake of the multitude of Nations that co-habit the fragile ecosystems on planet Earth that have sustained our forebears, those present and for our children’s children yet to be born, we will endeavor to make our collective voices heard in a respectful but assertive manner in order to achieve positive changes to arrest the progressive destruction of our environment. We shall urgently venture to ensure that a necessary balance is achieved in everything that we undertake in a fair and equitable way whilst respecting life in all its forms and living in harmonious and sustainable ways within our communities.

We therefore commit to carry this Declaration forward to all the thinking and caring peoples of the World, in the spirit symbolized by the white feathers of the Prophets of Peace of Parihaka, Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Glory to God

Peace on Earth

Goodwill to all Humankind

With the specific objective of bringing together Indigenous peoples to share their experiences, insight and perspectives on climate change, the Symposium assembled delegates from Evenki, Even, Chukchi, Yukagir and Sakha Nations in Siberia (Russian Federation), Inuit peoples of Nunavut (Arctic Canada), Gwitchin Nation of Northwest Territories (Arctic Canada) and Maori from across Aoteoroa. In addition the Symposium gathered Snowchange Cooperative participants from Finland, India, Mauritius, the United Kingdom and the USA as well as a range of other stakeholders including government officials, scientists, researchers, planners and environmental managers. The Symposium was officially opened by the co-leader of the Maori party and current Minister of the New Zealand Government, the Honorable Tariana Turia.

We, the Snowchange Symposium

RECOGNIZE that Indigenous Peoples have been living off the land since time immemorial and that the traditional (and modern) cultures of Indigenous peoples are being threatened by a diverse range of social, economic and environmental challenges in association with climate change. Notwithstanding the complexity of these challenges, and the need to better understand the links between these often competing forces, the experiences and perspectives of Indigenous peoples are an often neglected source of understanding which offer important contributions to the way we not only interact with one another but also our planet. Furthermore, climate change is regarded as a serious threat to the existence and survival of not only Indigenous peoples but life in all its forms.

In order to find solutions to potential future crises caused by a rapidly changing climate the following recommendations were undersigned on the final afternoon of the Symposium by all Snowchange participants. We collectively

1. ENDORSE that the Snowchange Network will develop a community-to-community information sharing tool that will offer direct dialogue, mechanisms and resources to address threats, opportunities and processes relevant to the Indigenous communities. Special emphasis will be devoted to industrial activities which are planned on Indigenous homelands.

2. DECIDE on a concrete action so that the Snowchange network with the Northern Forum Academy (Russia) and Barefoot College (India) will initiate an historical South to North pilot project whereby Siberian nomadic community women will be trained at the Barefoot College of India to solar electrify several reindeer tents in the High Arctic of Kolyma River in the Russian Federation. This initiative is a historical event because for the first time in history Indigenous women from Kolyma will travel to India. The solar electrification project will promote decentralized systems of governance, bottom-up initiatives and gender equality in one of the most remote regions of the World. This unique pilot project having had its genesis at an earlier Arkleton Seminar will be monitored and assessed by the Arkleton Trust (in the UK).

3. ESTABLISH an Indigenous education project between Siberian Indigenous communities and the Maori peoples of Taranaki. The nomadic school of Nutendli and the Evenki school of Iengra are the pilot communities from Siberia to start this work with Maori from Taranaki. The intention is to host an Indigenous education seminar in Sakha-Yakutia, Siberia in 2010 devoted to this initiative. In the interim period the intent is to establish a network of indigenous educators around the world who can discuss and share practices that promote the issues of and contribute to the sustainability of our Earth.

4. CONTRIBUTE our work, including an Indigenous assessment of regional climate changes, to the Indigenous Peoples Climate Change Assessment under the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Jointly with this process the Snowchange Cooperative will work closely with all participants of our Symposium to send a Snowchange associated Indigenous delegation to the World Indigenous Summit on Climate Change in Anchorage, Alaska, USA in April 2009.

5. PROMOTE the Snowchange network to develop a working group to start assessing the needs and priorities as well as the organization of the next possible Snowchange meeting tentatively planned for 2010.

We the undersigned agree to fulfill these tasks to the best of our abilities and work hard to achieve these goals.

Delegates of Snowchange Cooperative (Finland)
Maori Delegates of Te Hurihanga Haupapa Trust Aoteoroa (New Zealand)
Other Maori Delegates from across Aoteoroa (New Zealand)
Indigenous Delegates of Chukchi, Evenki, Even, Inuit, Gwitchin, Aboriginal,
Kwaugiutl, Sakha, Yukagir and other Nations
Local and international delegates from United States of America, India,Canada and the United Kingdom

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