The Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International is a solutions-based, multi-faceted organization established to engage women worldwide in policy advocacy, on-the-ground projects, direct action, trainings, and movement building for global climate justice.

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FRONTLINE COMMUNITY DELEGATIONS

In an effort to facilitate solidarity between worldwide women; increase visibility; and support advocacy efforts of frontline communities and their women leaders in their climate struggles and solutions, WECAN International has developed a dynamic frontline delegations program as a key area of our work.

 

As part of this work, WECAN International team members and allies visit frontline communities to support and stand in solidarity; document and create media opportunities for awareness building;  support local leaders; participate in actions; and help develop cross-sectoral strategies for advocacy and climate justice.

Kawsak Sacha, Living Forests Proposal Launch - Ecuador, 2018

Mirian Cisneros, President of the Pueblo of Sarayaku, leads a Kawsak Sacha launch event in Quito - Photo via Sophie Pinchetti/WECAN International

In July 2018, Leaders of the Kichwa Pueblo of Sarayaku in the Ecuadorian Amazon launched their historic Kawsak Sacha' 'Living Forest' Declaration, over five days of ceremony, events, and activities in the capital city of Quito, Ecuador.

 

The ultimate goal of the Kawsak Sacha Declaration is to attain national and international recognition for a new legal category for the permanent protection of Indigenous lands, which recognizes the inseparable physical and spiritual relationship between the Peoples of the Living Forest, and all of the beings that inhabit and compose it.

 

The Women's Earth and Climate Action Network was thankful to be present at and participate in the Kawsak Sacha launch, as part of an important demonstration of international support for the vision and demands set forth by Sarayaku leaders, many of whom are brilliant and courageous women.

Portrait of Narcisa Gualinga - via Sophie Pinchetti/WECAN International

Click here to visit the Kawsak Sacha website, and read the historic Living Forest Proposal that has been developed by the Pueblo of Sarayaku to demonstrate their own plans for their territories.

Explore our feature article and portrait series, The Voices of Amazon Women and a Visionary Declaration to Protect Indigenous Lands - via Common Dreams.

 

Learn more about this solidarity delegation via our Women For Forests page.

Hambach Forest Visit - Germany, 2017

Over the course of the United Nations COP23 climate talks in Bonn, Germany, WECAN International engaged in a variety of direct actions concerning Europe's largest open pit coal mine, the Hambacher mine, which extends over 33 square miles, and is a site for digging and burning of lignite coal, considered one of the dirtiest of all forms of fossil fuel energy.

 

The day after the close of the climate talks, our delegation traveled to visit the Hambach forest adjacent to the mine, to learn more about an ongoing effort to protect what remains from the coal mine expansion. To pursue expansion of the mine, 90% of the forest, an ancient and unique ecosystem, and one of the last mixed forests in Central Europe, has already been cut.

 

For over five years, a brave group of activists and Earth defenders have been peacefully occupying the remaining forest on the edge of the mine - setting up tree houses and a year-round encampment. WECAN was honored to visit with and interview some of the women of the Hambacher occupation to learn more about why they stand for the forest, and their visions for systemic change and climate justice. Watch and share:

In the time since WECAN International visited the Hambach Forest, the camp has faced various new challenges, court cases, and police evictions. Follow their story at @HambiBleibt (twitter) - www.hambacherforst.org

 

Learn more about this delegation visit via our WECAN Advocacy at UN Climate Forums page.

Tongass Rainforest Delegation - Alaska, 2016

The Tongass Rainforest of Alaska is the traditional homelands of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian Peoples; is the largest national forest in the U.S.; and has been called 'America’s climate forest' due to its unsurpassed ability to sequester carbon and mitigate climate impacts. For decades however, industrial scale logging has been destroying this precious ecosystem, and disrupting the traditional life-ways, medicine, and food systems of the region’s Indigenous communities.

 

In late July 2016, a delegation of women from WECAN International and allied organization, For the Wild, traveled to Prince of Wales Island, Alaska to meet with Indigenous women and community leaders of the region, to listen and learn from them about their traditional ways of life in the Tongass National Forest, and their struggles, campaigns, and solutions to protect their homelands from continued old-growth logging.

Since 2016, local Indigenous woman leader, Wanda Culp, has come aboard as the WECAN Tongass Coordinator to lead continued efforts in the Tongass, as part of WECAN’s Women For Forests program - learn more here!

Standing Rock, No Dakota Access Pipeline Solidarity Delegations - North Dakota, 2016

Women stand for water protection on the frontlines of the Standing Rock, No Dakota Access pipeline resistance movement - Photo via Emily Arasim/WECAN International

Indigenous women have stood, and continue to take action, on the frontline of ongoing action in opposition and resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota and the tail end of the this pipeline in Louisiana - standing as protectors and bearers of water, and beacons of hope and resistance that shine far beyond the corporate pillage of Energy Transfer Partners and the banks and corporations financing the pipeline.

 

Between August and the end of November 2016, the Women's Earth and Climate Action Network traveled to Oceti Sakowin Camp, Standing Rock, North Dakota on several different WECAN delegations to stand in physical solidarity and participate in actions, bring donations, support advocacy efforts and petitions, learn, document and conduct interviews with Indigenous women leaders of the Standing Rock Sioux Peoples, and allies from Indigenous Nations across the U.S.

 

Read and share the stories of some of the outstanding Indigenous women leaders of Standing Rock movement via interviews collected during WECAN delegations - '15 Indigenous Women on the Frontlines of the Dakota Access Pipeline Resistance'.

Left to right: Jaslyn Charger (Cheyenne River Sioux, co-Founder of the International Indigenous Youth Council); Kandi Mossett (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Indigenous Environmental Network); and LaDonna Brave Bull Allard (Standing Rock Sioux, Sacred Stone Camp founder) - Photos by Emily Arasim/WECAN International

WECAN International team members have additionally participated in No DAPL solidarity marches and actions in the Bay Area, California; during UN climate talks; and during #NoNewLeases and #NoDAPL days of action in Washington D.C., as a part of which WECAN’s Executive Director and 13 allies from across the country were arrested during a non-violent direct action inside of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

 

Growing out of relationships built at Standing Rock, WECAN International has worked to co-organize a series of ongoing Indigenous-led, Indigenous Women’s Divestment Delegations across Europe and the US. Learn more here!

“We are fighting the Dakota pipeline, but we're also fighting the whole system of violence. The whole system which has called us savages. Which has denied us our ability to be human—and we're responding to that by creating a community that has it's own values. That respects its women. That gives its children priority. That will teach its children the traditional knowledge of life, that will give them life … When I saw the young women crying out for help, I said I have to be there because I'm not going to watch these people be desolated for the greed of a corporation that does not love this land, that is not part of this land. That's the beautiful work that we're here for.... We're not going to let the future of America, the future of Turtle Island to be robbed and taken and stolen from us.”

- Michelle Cook (Diné of the Walk Around Clan from Oak Springs, Arizona, legal advisor at Standing Rock), featured in  '15 Indigenous Women on the Frontlines of the Dakota Access Pipeline Resistance'

Michelle Cook at Standing Rock - Photo via Osprey Orielle Lake/WECAN International

WECAN International remains dedicated to ongoing action and media support - until Indigenous rights are upheld, until sacred sites are respected, and until the voices, struggles and solutions of Indigenous women leaders become the base of social and ecological decision making as we confront systemic oppressions and build the future we want. We must remain watchful, continue to help disseminate the correct information, and move forward with bold direct action and divestment from fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure.

 

We send enormous thanks, support and solidarity to all of the individuals who have and continue to to stand at the forefront of the prayerful and non-violent movement to protect the water - to all who shared their stories and fires - and to of our allies and Indigenous leaders including - Sacred Stone Camp; Indigenous Environmental Network; International Indigenous Youth Council; Honor the Earth; Indigenous Peoples Power Project; Water Protector Legal Collective; Indigenous Rising Media

Joye Braun (Cheyenne River Sioux of Eagle Butte, South Dakota, Indigenous Environmental Network representative and Dakota Access community organizer) and Osprey Orielle Lake (Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network) speak following an interview

No Extraction In The Amazon, International Women's Day Delegation - Ecuador, 2016

More than 500 women leaders from across the Ecuadorian Amazon stand for the rights of their communities and the Earth in Puyo, Ecuador on International Women’s Day 2016 – Photo by Emily Arasim

In late January 2016, the government of Ecuador signed a contract with Chinese corporation, Andes Petroleum, handing over rights for oil exploration and extraction in two controversial Amazonian blocks which overlap the traditional territory of the Sápara and Kichwa peoples of the Ecuadorian Amazon.

 

The new oil contract threatens irremediable environmental pollution of one of the worlds most biodiverse habitats; severe violation of Indigenous, community and Earth rights; and incalculable destabilization of our global climate.

The Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network has been in ongoing collaboration with the women of the Ecuadorian Amazon since the organization's inception. In response to dire new developments and the requests of solidarity by Indigenous Amazonian women leaders, a WECAN delegation and our allies at Amazon Watch traveled to Ecuador to stand in solidarity on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2016, as the women rose to denounce the dire threats facing the living systems of the Amazon and its Indigenous communities as a result of the new oil contract.

Gloria Ushigua (Sápara), Casey Camp Horinek (Ponca), and Rosa (Sápara) together during the 2016 International Women’s Day events and march in Puyo, Ecuador

Leila Salazar Lopez of Amazon Watch, Osprey Orielle Lake of WECAN International, and allies , in action in solidarity with Indigenous women of the Amazon on International Women's Day, Ecuador 2016

Women leaders from seven diverse nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon, including the Andoa, Achuar, Kichwa, Shuar, Shiwiar, Sapara and Waorani peoples, organized and carried forth a powerful march of more than 500 allies, reaffirming their commitment to defend the land and resist oil extraction, while also bringing critical attention to the struggles and strength of local women Earth defenders.

 

WECAN International supported, documented, and participated in the vital march and forum, and presented a dynamic recap event, ‘Women of Ecuadorian Amazon and International Allies Stand For Protection of the Amazon Rainforest’, in partnership with Terra Matter at FLASCO University, Quito, Ecuador the following day.

Casey Camp Horinek, Ponca Nation Leader and WECAN Special Projects Advisor and Delegation member speaks at an International Women’s Day gathering in Puyo after the march against oil extraction – Photo by Emily Arasim

Natalia Green, Osprey Orielle Lake and Casey Camp Horinek present on the importance of women land defenders during an event at FLASCO University in Quito, Ecuador – Photo by Emily Arasim

Bakken Fracking Fields Delegation

North Dakota, 2015

Members of the WECAN International team stand in solidarity with allies from the Indigenous Environmental Network and Movement Rights, in front of a man camp in North Dakota

In September 2015, members of the WECAN International team traveled to Williston, North Dakota, USA to participate in the Stop Extreme Energy Summit and stand in solidarity with longtime WECAN International ally, Kandi Mossett of the Indigenous Environmental Network.

 

Kandi Mossett led a heart wrenching ‘toxic tour’ through the traditional lands of the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara peoples, now decimated by a rapidly expanding and poorly regulated fracking industry, and presented a series of powerful talks contextualizing local social, political, economic and ecologic crisis.

 

Throughout the delegation, WECAN International spoke  with Kandi and allies to learn more and expose critical information around the fracking industry and spikes in sexual violence, rape and human trafficking of local women.

Click here to READ and SHARE the dynamic multimedia article produced by the WECAN Delegation: Eco Watch - Women on the Front Lines Fighting Fracking in the Bakken Oil Shale Formations

Bakken Fracking flares seen near a farm and pond - Photo via Emily Arasim/WECAN International

Osprey Orielle Lake (WECAN International) and Shannon Biggs (Movement Rights) speak with Kandi Mossett (Indigenous Environmental Network) while visiting a massive frack water spill site during the toxic tour

Alberta, Canada Tar Sands Healing Walk Delegation Canada, 2013

On July 5th and 6th, 2013, more than 500 allies from across North America united at the Tar Sands Healing Walk near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, walking to bring attention to the toxic industry and focus energy on healing the land and the people who are suffering from tar sands expansion.

 

Members of the WECAN International team joined the Healing Walk in solidarity with the Indigenous women of Alberta, walking for 8.5 hours through lands dominated by toxic, lifeless sand, tailing ponds, smoke stacks, endless trucks and poisoned air and water.

 

Since before the walk, and onoingly, WECAN International is honored to be working  with Indigenous women leaders of Alberta including Crystal Lameman (Beaver Lake Cree First Nation), Melina Laboucan Massimo (Lubicon Cree First Nation) and Eriel Deranger (Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation).

 

Click here to visit the WECAN blog and read more about the Tar Sands Healing Walk delegation.

Also be invited to learn more about WECAN International’s work to organize Indigenous Women’s Divestment Delegations, and annual WECAN Delegations to the United Nations!

Osprey Orielle Lake of WECAN International at the 2013 Tar Sands Healing Walk with Winona LaDuke of Honor the Earth (right)  and Crystal Lameman of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation (left)

Osprey Orielle Lake of WECAN International at the 2013 Tar Sands Healing Walk with Winona LaDuke of Honor the Earth (right)  and Crystal Lameman of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation (left)