UWinnipeg student takes part in COP22

Sadie-Phoenix Lavoie, ©UWinnipeg.

Sadie-Phoenix Lavoie, ©UWinnipeg.

Last month, UWinnipeg student Sadie-Phoenix Lavoie traveled to Marrakech, Morocco, with a group of 16 other young people from across Canada to take part in the 22nd annual United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP22).

Lavoie, who is also the Vice-President of External Affairs for The University of Winnipeg’s Students’ Association, found out she would be making the two-week advocacy trip when she was selected as a representative of the Canadian Youth Delegation last summer. As the only delegate from Manitoba and one of two Indigenous delegates, Lavoie says she had a significant amount of responsibility.

“It was very valuable for me to be there,” explained Lavoie. “I knew that I had a large role … not only to give the Prairie perspective, but also as an Indigenous person and an Indigenous woman, to kind of decolonize this space as well and give our version of climate justice.”

Lavoie says her major goal was to push world leaders to consider climate change action through the lens of Indigenous rights as outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report and The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

COP22 is the decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and was established in 1994 to aid in the fight against global warming.

This conference is the largest advocacy event 22-year-old Lavoie has been a part of to date, and she believes it’s vital for young people to be included in the climate change conversation on an international, national, and local level.

However, now that she’s back on Canadian soil, Lavoie says she prefers to focus on fostering grassroots advocacy at home.

“I have to do the work on a ground-level in order to build the capacity here, build the awareness here, push the passion here — because it will inherently filter forward,” says Lavoie. “I do see some benefit in me being there as a way to decolonize those upper spaces, to make more room for the grassroots to come through.”

Lavoie is currently pursuing a major in Indigenous Studies with a minor in Political Science.

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