• Weekend Edition7:00 am to 11:00 am

Menu Schedule Links

Signal Status

There are currently no events to display.

Advocates Speak At ‘Indigenous Women’s Environmental And Reproductive Health Symposium’

By | April 30, 2012

Health advocates for Alaska Native women and children spoke out today in Anchorage, as part of this year’s Indigenous Women’s Environmental and Reproductive Health Symposium.  Andrea Carmen, who heads the international Indian Treaty Council, said the women’s symposium targeted human rights, especially in light of the effects of pollutants on women.

That’s the strong voice of Monique Sonnikue, singing the “Women’s Gathering Song”.

Health advocates for Alaska Native women and children spoke out today in Anchorage, as part of this year’s Indigenous Women’s Environmental and Reproductive Health Symposium. Andrea Carmen, who heads the international Indian Treaty Council, said the women’s symposium targeted human rights, especially in light of the effects of pollutants on women.

“It was very important to hear the stories and the struggles of the range of indigenous women about the impact in their communities of environmental toxins, in particular how that affects the health of women, children, unborn generations and reproductive health in general.”

She said the symposium, held in Chickaloon village, hosted women from Mexico, Central and South America as well as the U.S. Carmen relayed how the women told stories of how environmental toxins cause birth defects in infants and illness in children and adults in all the regions represented at the symposium.

Faith Gemmill, representing Venetie’s Tribal Government, said informed consent is the right of indigenous people. Gimmell said indigenous people’s are challenging the fossil fuel and mining industries by fighting environmental destruction on their lands.

“Pre- prior and informed consent is generally understood as the rights of indigenous peoples, including our peoples in the Arctic. To have a voice in proposed projects that affect our land, territories and resources. Our indigenous rights are intrinsically interconnected to our environment due to our intimate connection to our lands in relation to our physical nourishment, culture, spirituality and social systems. “

Gemmill said the Alaska Native’s subsistence way of life is dependent on a healthy ecosystem. Social systems are affected by industrial development as well. Danika Littlechild, with Canada’s Ermineskin Cree Nation, told of the aftermath of 1990′s development on her community.

“What you end up with ten, fifteen, twenty years after the development ends, is the absence of a traditional economy to fall back on. I’m not just talking about economic poverty here. I’m talking about cultural poverty, loss of culture, I’m talking about linguistic poverty, and even familial poverty, which is to say basically that the family cohesion has completely collapsed.”

The Women’s Symposium coincided with a visit to Alaska by the UN’s special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, who held hearings with Alaska Natives in Anchorage and Chickaloon on Saturday.

Andrea Carmen said the women’s symposium reports on the effects of environmental toxins will be presented to the United Nations next week at the UN’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Carmen said the forum has accepted the term “environmental violence” against indigenous women and girls as a human rights concern. A final UN report on the effects of pollutants on indigenous peoples is expected in September.

Listen for the full story

Download Audio

You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via email, podcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @aprn.

Comments

Please read our comment guidelines.