Environmental Forum: Working alongside Indigenous Nations and Persons


A number of environmentally focused non-profits organized the 2018 Environmental Forum which was held on September 20. Along with a number of candidates running for city or regional council seats across Waterloo Region I shared my environmental vision.

There are many other pieces that make up my vision, but at the foundation of this vision is a belief that municipalities need to focus on working alongside Indigenous nations and persons. Below is the full transcript of what I shared during my two-minute presentation. I hope that what I said here will change as I grow in my learning and unlearning.

What if, rather than considering how the environment fits into zoning, development, and transportation, we put the environment right at the centre and collectively work to protect, preserve, and celebrate the land that sustains us?

And, how would this approach change if we placed an emphasis on working alongside Indigenous nations and peoples?

We are currently on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishnawbe and Haudenosaunee peoples - people who continue to care for and remain interconnected to the land.

The land on this territory spans the ten kilometers on each side of the Grand River which was promised to the Six Nations.

This promise has not been fulfilled and now there are many, like myself, who are benefitting from settling on and exploiting these lands that did not belong to us in the first place.  

I want to reimagine how municipalities work alongside Indigenous nations and peoples, so that we collectively address complex social problems, including the environment.

This would mean,

  • making revisions to the city’s official plan in ways that address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action

  • building new and fostering existing relationships, like with the Haudenosaunee Development Institute. [I am grateful to the person who told me about this Institute today while taking part in the Centre for Indigegogy’s Decolonizing Education Certificate at Wilfrid Laurier University].

  • critically looking at who is and who is not involved in city decision-making and consultation.

As a city councilor, the environment will be a key concern for me.

To do that effectively I want to work with Indigenous communities to address environmental matters in a meaningful and respectful way so the land may restore herself.


Jen Vasic