Global Canoe for Indigenous Rights

Indigenous leaders and representatives of local communities journeyed by canoe to highlight the important role they play in the protection of biodiversity

On Sunday 11 December, The Playa Times was invited to an event held in Cancun held by  Global Canoe, a political movement launched by organizations from indigenous villages in Mesoamerica, the Amazon, Indonesia and North America. The leaders and representatives of the local communities joined to highlight the important role of communities in the protection of biodiversity. Organized by AMPB (Alianza Mesoamericana de Pueblos y Bosques), COICA and Greenpeace Mexico, the idea was to grab the attention of as many people as possible by highlighting the vital role that indigenous and local communities must serve in the conservation and protection of biodiversity.

rgb3We gathered at the point of departure just after sunrise, where the participants were getting ready to place their transport of choice into the water and begin the journey. There were different sized canoes being readied, from individual sized to much larger ones built by various occupants. Some preferred the challenge of traveling by paddle board, while those of us in the media settled into a motor boat to document the action.

rgb2Before departing several leaders took the time to address the assembled media in brief press conferences and quick one-on-one interviews. Each indigenous leader had a similar statement to make, demanding that their people be a part of the strategies, public policies and programs of defense in the conservation and protection of forests and life.

It was an impressive sight, the waters of the lagoon filling the wide vista before us, everyone moving at different speeds but all heading in the same direction. The rendezvous point was the large wall on the edge of the lagoon. It was a slow, methodical trip, our vehicle moving slowly so as to not disrupt the waters for our fellow travelers. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the sound of drums. A samba squad pounded out some steady tribal rhythms and speakers took turns on megaphones to explain the purpose of our trip. They asked that their voices be heard and their rights respected, and that they be given the opportunity to contribute to the challenge of combating the climate change which affects us all.

The event was held during the United Nations Conference Climate Change COP16/CMP6 event that was held in Cancun from November 29 to December 10 in hopes of bringing the importance of the role of indigenous people to the world stage.

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