Environmental protection and the rights of indigenous peoples in Canada, Brazil and Australia

The Canadian government, which once ignored indigenous environmental knowledge, is now working with them to create Nunatsiavut’s first-ever Inuit Conservation Area. It is an autonomous region of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, where the Subarctic meets the Arctic and is one of the four Inuit homelands in Canada. Climate change is evident there – in 1950, snow lay in Nunatsiavut 40 days a year longer than today, and sea ice is disappearing there faster than anywhere else in the Canadian Arctic. Nunatsiavut is home to many Arctic marine mammals, including 21 species of whales and dolphins.

Hundreds of indigenous representatives marched through Brazil’s capital and gathered in front of the Supreme Court to watch the resumption of discussions about demarcating the boundaries of indigenous lands. According to the proposed law, if a given indigenous population did not occupy the lands of their ancestors before 1988, they currently have no right to claim them. Activists disagree with the bill, claiming indigenous people have been repeatedly driven from their ancestral territories.

In October 2023, Australians will vote in a referendum to decide whether a mechanism known as “The Voice” will be enshrined in the constitution. It will enable indigenous people to advise parliament on policies affecting their lives. Indigenous Australians are the most disadvantaged ethnic group in this country but are divided on the referendum response.

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