Knowledge Resources & Publications


Webinar - First Nations’ Leadership on Climate Change – National and regional strategies of the Assembly of First Nations

June 2022


In 2019, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) passed Resolution 05/2019 declaring a First Nations Climate Emergency recognizing that “climate change constitutes a state of emergency for our lands, waters, animals, and peoples” (Assembly of First Nations Bulletin – April 22, 2021). In 2020, the AFN convened a national gathering to hear from First Nations leadership, Elders, women, youth and activists on climate strategies going forward. The result of these discussions was the National Climate Gathering Report: Driving Change, Leading Solutions. In tandem with the development of an AFN National Climate Strategy, AFN regional offices have been working on localized solutions to climate change, developing their own strategies.

This webinar brings together presentations by five representatives of national and regional offices of the AFN who hold portfolios related to the environment, including Jewel Davies and Shauna Yeomans-Lindstrom (Yukon Climate Action Fellowship - AFN Yukon), Mitch Downton (Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat), Graeme Reed (AFN National Office) and Patricia Rojas (BC Regional Office). Collectively they provide an overview of the work underway by the AFN at the national and regional levels in order to understand how First Nations leaders and communities are uniquely experiencing climate change and the strategies being employed to address the climate crisis.


Geehaadastee (Shauna Yeomans-Lindstrom) is a part of the Yanyedi house of the Taku River Tlingit First Nation. Shauna has been involved in cultural activities, climate change and environmental awareness programs since the early years of her youth. In 2010/11 Shauna participated in "Students on Ice: Antarctic Expedition”. Since then Shauna has studied early childhood development and aspires to apply what she has learned to help develop spaces and create opportunities on-the-land for communities, to learn about traditional knowledge and values. In 2016, she began working for the Taku River Tlingit First Nation as a Land Guardian. As a guardian, she has acquired an extensive background and interest in Indigenous Led Conservation and Nationhood, the National Guardian Network, and Food Security. Shauna became a board member for the T’akhu  Tlèn Conservancy, and later accepted role as President in July 2018.

Jewel Davies is a member of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation and grew up in Teslin. She is Eagle/Killer Whale Clan. She is enrolled in the Indigenous Governance Bachelor’s Degree Program at Yukon University and a fellow on the Yukon First Nations Climate Action Fellowship. She is grateful to be a part of the Climate Action Fellowship as an initiative that is Indigenous-led and holds Indigenous values and worldview at its core. She believes that Indigenous worldviews are incredibly powerful, and we have a lot to learn from these ways of knowing and being. Jewel is currently mobilising her passion for Indigenous ways of knowing and being as a development lead for the Illuminating Worldviews initiative, being jointly developed by RIVER and the Northern Council for Global Cooperation. This summer, she looks forward to applying our Illuminating Worldviews work to the How We Walk with the Land and the Water initiative, which she has been involved with on behalf of her First Nation since 2021.

Mitch Downton is currently the Policy Analyst for Climate Change with the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat. His position includes reviewing federal and provincial policies to observe potential impacts to Atlantic First Nation communities from a climate change perspective. In April 2021, he developed the Atlantic First Nation Climate Change Advisory Committee, where First Nation climate leaders from across the Atlantic meet to discuss climate priorities within the region. Mitch also oversees climate change research projects that help to benefit APC’s represented communities.

In 2015 Mitch received his Bachelor of Science with a double major in Zoology and Political Science from the University of Guelph. He completed his Masters in Resource and Environmental Management from Dalhousie University in 2017. Mitch is passionate about environmental and energy issues, specifically surrounding climate change and the clean energy transition.

Graeme Reed is a Senior Policy Advisor with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), where he advocates for the inclusion of First Nations in the federal, provincial, and territorial climate change and energy policy dialogue. He has presented to the Canadian Council of Ministers of Environment (CCME), participated in the First Minister’s Meeting negotiating the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, and represented the AFN at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change since 2016, including as Co-Chair of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change. In his spare time, Graeme is close to finishing his PhD at the University of Guelph, focusing on the intersection of Indigenous governance, environmental governance and the climate crisis. He is of Anishinaabe (Great Lakes), Scottish, English, and German descent.

Patricia Rojas is the British Colombia Assembly of First Nation’s Regional Climate Change Coordinator. She lives with her two daughters and husband in the traditional Secwepemc territory of the T’exelc (Williams Lake) First Nation in the interior of BC. Before moving to Canada, she worked internationally with Indigenous Peoples providing technical and strategic support including policy analysis and advocacy related to environmental and climate change issues, while focused on the protection of collective rights, self-determination, and social and environmental justice. She received a Master’s Degree in Sustainability, with a specialty in Policy Analysis, from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (Barcelona, Spain); a Master’s Degree in Social Management from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, and a Bachelor Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Cajamarca (Peru).

Patricia alongside her colleagues from the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and the First Nations Summit, recently worked with First Nations in BC to prepare the BC First Nations Climate Strategy and Action Plan. The Strategy aims to guide and support First Nations in BC to continue their climate leadership while affirming their Indigenous Title, Rights and Treaty rights. The Strategy also seeks to communicate to Crown governments and the overall public on First Nations’ climate priorities and the crucial role Indigenous peoples play worldwide to address the global climate emergency.

Learning Objectives

  • To understand how First Nations across Canada conceptualize the impacts of and solutions to climate change
  • To recognize that climate change is a determinant of health for First Nations peoples which impacts water and food security, infrastructure and safety, culture and land-based activities, and the transmission of knowledge between generations, to name a few
  • To explore First Nations Climate Leadership and discuss examples at the regional and national levels
  • To hear about the First Nations-led opportunities on climate action at the regional, national and international levels

Webinar Resources