A lack of action on climate change by Canada’s government is endangering Indigenous people in the far north, putting them at risk of food shortages and dangerously poor nutrition, a human rights group said.
Climate change’s impacts like habitat loss and extreme weather are depleting First Nations’ traditional food sources and making nutritious imported foods too expensive, Human Rights Watch said in a report on three remote communities in Yukon, British Columbia and northern Ontario.
In the three geographic locations studied, residents reported drastic reductions in the quantity of food they are able to harvest, and increased difficulty and danger associated with harvesting food from the land.
“They are on the front lines of climate change,” Katharina Rall, senior researcher at the humanitarian group, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The 120-page report, “My Fear is Losing Everything’: The Climate Crisis and First Nations’ Right to Food in Canada,” documents how climate change is reducing First Nations’ traditional food sources, driving up the cost of imported alternatives, and contributing to a growing problem of food insecurity and related negative health impacts.
“My biggest fear of climate change (it is) losing everything. Losing our traditions over the weathers. If we lose what we have now, what will we have to show our children in the future?”Kyle Linklater, a Cree man
Canada is warming at more than twice the global rate, and northern Canada at about three times the global rate. Despite its relatively small population, Canada is still a top 10 greenhouse gas emitter, with per capita emissions 3 to 4 times the global average.
The organisation recommended that governments also provide First Nations with financial and technical resources such as the capacity to collect data on issues like ice thickness.
“The Canadian government should publicly announce that it accepts the right to food as a basic human right, and part of the human right to an adequate standard of living and realize its obligation to ensure that First Nations can realize this right by addressing climate impacts on food poverty.” Human Rights Watch recommend in the report.