The Impact of the Climate Crisis on Indigenous People, Black People and 
Pacific Islanders

Sustaining All Life (SAL) held a fundraiser on May 30 of this year. Many RCers attended—bringing friends and family and using the fundraiser to introduce people to SAL and RC. 

We have an agreement that we will not ask RCers for donations, but we do inform them of opportunities to support our efforts financially, and we welcome that support. If you wish to support the activities of SAL financially, you can find the donate button at the top of this page: <>.

This fall SAL will be sending a delegation (smaller than usual because of COVID) to COP26 [the twenty-sixth Conference of the Parties, an annual United Nations conference on the climate emergency]. We will also be offering a full slate of events online. Watch the SAL web page above for more details. 

The following are three of the talks given at the SAL fundraiser in May.


Boozhoo! Anin, Tansi. Every time I use my language it is an act of liberation and a protest against genocide. 

My English (colonized) name is Darlene Daniels. I am an Anishininew band member from Garden Hill First Nation and live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. 

Indigenous people see the earth as our Mother. Without her, there is no life. We are responsible for protecting and taking care of her. 

The Canadian government tried “to kill the Indian in the child” by forced assimilation. We were displaced from our traditional lands and forced to live on reserves. We do not own the land, the government is responsible for it under the treaties, but we continue to fight to be sovereign nations.

The climate crisis is having a crippling effect. Our communities are nestled in the boreal forest. They are isolated, and the only way to access them is to fly or get there on winter roads. The winter roads carry supplies—food, building materials, fuel, and household goods—into our communities. Global warming has made the winter season shorter and shorter. In the past, we had months to bring in the supplies. We now have only weeks. If supplies cannot get in by road, they need to be flown in, and this quadruples the price. Many people cannot afford to pay the high prices for food and basic items. This is having a devastating effect on my community.

Our people can no longer live off the land. The traditional way of life cannot stand up against the changing weather patterns and rising temperatures. Our fish and animals are disappearing. 

The land we grew up on was beautiful, with pristine water. I spent many summers living off the land at our family’s traditional fishing camp. This way of life is long gone.

However, we are resilient people. We believe that everything we do will be felt for seven generations. So, we will work together to protect Mother Earth and our water for future generations.

Darlene Daniels

Area Reference Person for Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


The climate crisis has a hugely disproportionate impact on the lives and communities of African-heritage people. Black people in the United States and in other parts of the world are greatly impacted by environmental racism. Black people are more likely to live near chemical dumps and have fewer green spaces in their communities. In the United States, green spaces in Black communities were systematically wiped out [destroyed] by interstate highway building and Model Cities programs. 

Living near toxic waste affects almost every aspect of life, including food, water, and air. The U.S. Commission for Racial Justice found that three of the five largest toxic waste facilities are in poor Black communities. Black people are exposed to more pollution from every type of source, including industry, agriculture, and vehicle emissions. 

U.S. Black people died disproportionately during COVID-19 in part because of the deadly conditions imposed on Black communities by environmental racism and climate change.

Our communities are more vulnerable to catastrophic climate events. We face frequent hurricanes, droughts, and climate-related diseases and are less likely than white people to receive timely aid.

A recent study revealed how differently families’ finances are affected by natural disasters and recovery efforts. Federal aid makes white communities wealthier, while Black communities lose wealth. Massive homelessness and loss of generational family homes followed the Katrina hurricane disaster in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA—but the white community gained in wealth due to white gentrification and white control of the disaster-relief effort.

We are using the tools of Sustaining All Life to recover from feelings of powerlessness, helplessness, and defeat that have been installed by racism and internalized racism. We are regaining our sense of being able to change the world. Many of us have been able to change the conditions of our own lives and the lives of our families and communities. 

We plan to get these tools into the hands of as many Black people as possible. They can decide how they wish to engage in this project of addressing the climate crisis. We want every Black person to have access to these tools and increase their sense of power so that they can decide how to be involved in creating a world that works well for them.

Barbara Love

International Liberation Reference Person for African-Heritage People

Amherst, Massachusetts, USA


My family is from the Philippines, so the climate crisis in the Pacific Islands is very personal for me.

Indigenous people have occupied the Pacific Islands for thousands of years. However, our islands have been subjected to colonialism, genocide, racism, and militarism. That means resources have been stolen, treaties broken, and our islands used for nuclear weapons testing. And, as in other regions in the world, Pacific Islanders’ contribution to climate change has been minimal.

We are experiencing rising sea levels, coral reefs dying, and bigger and more frequent typhoons. Also, COVID-19 has arrived, brought in primarily by the military. 

Courageous people are doing organizing work with little support. We did some Sustaining All Life visits to the Pacific Islands to follow up with people we had met at the climate conferences. We got a clear picture of the difficult conditions and the good work that is being done. We listened, and they listened to each other. There were so many stories to tell, so many feelings to express. 

One thing we heard over and over is how hard things are among people who are “on the same side.” Outside forces and internalized oppression have set people and organizations against each other. They are fighting each other while they fight the oppressive conditions.

Our Sustaining All Life tools offer a way out of these difficulties. We were able to provide some hope where people have been discouraged. We plan to work through the difficulties, unite the movement, and together address oppression and the climate emergency. We are building a supportive network to make that happen.

It gives me hope!

Teresa Enrico

International Liberation Reference Person for 
Pacific Islander and Pilipino/a-Heritage People

Seattle, Washington, USA

(Present Time 205, October 2021)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00