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Indigenous Women Speak Out: August Podcast

As part of the Indigenous Women’s Speak Out series, Women eNews spoke with Kluane Adamek of Kluane First Nation in the Yukon Territory of northern Canada. Adamec is the Yukon Regional Director of the First Nations Plenary Session (AFN).

Adamek is part of the Dakl’aweidi (Killerwhale clan). Her traditional name is Aagé, which means “daughter of the lake”. She has diverse backgrounds from Southern Tushoni, Tlingit, Ireland, Scotland and Germany. She currently holds an AFN national portfolio for climate change and the environment, youth and modern treaties.

Martha Troyan, a Canadian-based indigenous journalist and producer, recently interviewed Kluane Adamek for Womene News.

(The following conversations have been edited for length and clarity.)

Q & A

Martha Troyan (MT): What are you most proud of about your people, your country, and your community?

Crew Ein Ademec (KA): Especially this year, I’ve seen women and young people live too early. What I am most proud of in a very difficult, realistic and raw moment is that indigenous peoples, especially those in the north, continue to be resilient and continue to lead and develop solutions in the field. During this pandemic, I’ve seen people get together in different ways, and I think it speaks to the strength and resilience we have as indigenous peoples.

MT: How did you get involved in politics in the first place? What surprised you most about this job?

KA: As a member of the First Nations plenary session, I was impressed by the opportunity to go to AFN’s National Assembly on behalf of the Yukon Territory. It was very unbelievable to me to see all these young people working hard to advance their priorities and solutions. I am the regional director who identifies the third woman to serve in this area. After being first tentatively appointed and elected in 2018, Ontario elected women, and then Alberta elected women for the first time. It was really about energy and was to see people and women in the field working to do everything we were talking about, including housing, the environment and education.

MT: Can you also tell us why it is important to allow patriarchy before us and what they can teach us?

KA: When I say that Yukon is matrilineal and matrilineal, I know that many other countries and regions are also like this. There is also a clan system that is essential from the perspective of governance structure. These systems are governance systems and structures that have existed for thousands of years. My grandmother died during a pandemic, and it was incredibly hard. She always told me that this generation had different challenges and different responsibilities. We need to find a balance that comes from supporting men, women, two-spirit relatives, and people of all gender expressions. That balance is also born from our balance of mixed ancestors. We are all trying to understand this moccasin on one foot and stiletto on the other.

MT: Can you talk about the reality of being a young indigenous woman in today’s leadership?

KA: I think it is very important for women to take a legitimate position and move forward. Is it easy? No. There is age discrimination, there is gender-based violence, it’s all very alive. I am grateful to have a strong relationship with women like former regional directors and with the women I expect as elders like Shirley Adamson and Elder Mary Jane Jim. These women are in a leadership position and have played a variety of other important roles. Some of what they deal with is what I’m dealing with, 25 years later. What I was interested in in this position was the double standard of men and women. I’m very raw and candid because I think it’s important not to sugar coat things. It will not make the necessary changes. The more you push, the more you can see things change. I am to all the incredible men out there, especially the indigenous men who stand by our side, behind us, in front of us, or wherever we need them. I want to scream.

MT: I would like to ask you about environmental protection, climate change advocacy, and youth leadership. These are two areas that are very close to your mind. Why is that so?

KA: Lake Kluan has fallen nearly 10 feet in the last decade. We see that global warming and climate change are having a huge impact on our community, which is pretty astounding. Lake Kluan is part of our identity and we see this happening on earth. As we know, the effects of the northern climate are being experienced three times faster than anywhere else. I feel responsible for my core to continue doing whatever I can to minimize these impacts. My passion is always to create space for young people. We started this wonderful project in Yukon, and it came directly from the youth in our area. Last year we hosted a large climate change gathering that brought together elders and young people. It was called “Shared Heart” and it was amazing. The result was a fellowship that provided young people with initiative projects. There, they have developed their own solutions for their country. Although this is a unique project, it comes directly from young people and knowledge holders, and it is a very important part of building future solutions.

MT: Is there a message I can convey to the next indigenous leaders? I wonder why it is important to empower emerging leaders and young people.

KA: I would like to reach out to “We Matter”, which has started a wonderful initiative. I think health and wellness are very important parts of these conversations. I want to say to everyone who is listening now, especially to young people. You are important and you are loved! We all need to be involved in the move towards change that is coming. There are so many different ways people can participate in this work, conscious of how important it is to set the boundaries between your health and your health.

MT: Is there anything else you would like to add?

KA: There is work to be done to educate different generations about what gender equality looks like. what do you mean? What is appropriate and what is not? It should create more space for LGBTQIA2S + people, not just for women who have women’s shoulders and identities. I hope more elected leaders will create that important space and promise to pay attention to how we treat people. I think one of our greatest teachings is about respect. It doesn’t matter how you identify, how you look, or how old you are, or by which gender or non-gender you identify. It’s about who you are and how you appear.

Learn more about Kluane Adamek from Kluane First Nation in the Yukon Territory of Northern Canada.Click here to watch the video podcast..

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Written by Fem Society

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