By Annie Webb
On December 9th, the Canadian Mountain Network (CMN) and Mountain Sentinels Alliance hosted the dialogue, Women Move Mountains, on United Nations International Mountain Day (IMD) 2022. Around the world, women play a key role in the stewardship, conservation, economic development, and management of mountains, including the keeping and sharing of traditional knowledge. IMD 2022 focuses on the need to empower women as farmers, artisans, entrepreneurs, community leaders, mothers, and mountain women and girls, so that they can more effectively participate in decision-making and resource management.
Women have unique gifts to be celebrated, and this panel brought together a diverse group of women from across Turtle Island – North America – who are “moving mountains.” The impact of each of their work reaches far beyond mountains and elevates the path forward for us all. Panelists include Ataya Cesspooch (Northern Ute, Assiniboine, and Lakota), doctoral student, Department of Environmental Science, Policy, & Management, University of California, Berkeley; Coralee McGuire-Cyrette, Executive Director, Ontario Native Women’s Association; Kim McMullen, Founder, Girl in the Wild; and Louise Misztal, Executive Director, Sky Island Alliance. Closing remarks were provided by Monique Dubé, Executive Director, CMN, and Julia Klein, Professor, Department of Ecosystem Science & Sustainability, Colorado State University, and Director of the Mountain Sentinels Alliance.
Ava Hamilton provided the spiritual opening for this dialogue. She is an Arapahoe filmmaker, author, historian, public speaker, and water protector. She is active with many groups and issues, including People of the Sacred Land and Rising Voices: Climate Resilience through Indigenous and Earth Sciences. Ava stressed that right now, Mother Earth is in danger, and therefore we are also in danger. She reflected on the pressing need to work to better together and take concrete actions using all of our different knowledges to protect Mother Earth.
Watch the full dialogue here:
The speakers and a summary of their talks:
The panel then took questions from participants addressing concrete actions that everyone can take to protect life on Earth and connect with the land.
The panelists were asked to consider, “Since everyone here is at a different place in their path, with some just starting out and others in leadership position. What can we each do now, as individuals and as part of our communities?”
Here are ideas that were discussed and put forward:
- Supporting or participating in internship programs
- Seeking out mentors and being a mentor yourself. As women, we can support each other.
- Valuing and empowering women as givers of life
- Creating camps like GITW across the country for youth to connect with the Earth and disconnect with technology
- Listening better to the Earth and the land
- Experiencing spaces like mountains, which provide us with a spiritual connection and the space to come to new realizations and perspectives
- Helping our young people to love this life, this Earth
- Coming together to create safe spaces, connections and communications
- Connecting with your Indigenous/ancestral heritage, or elders in your community
- Funding and supporting Indigenous-led and co-led land-based research (like the Canadian Mountain Network)
- Braiding knowledge to truly influence decision making in Canada, working with partners across borders
- Donating to organizations like GITW to support youth as leaders of tomorrow and to build a better understanding of the land through experiences on the land.
After the thoughtful discussion, CMN Executive Director Monique Dube and Mountain Sentinels Alliance lead Julia Klein wrapped up the virtual event with gratitude for the insights and stories shared, enthusiasm for the potential for positive change, and a challenge to all participants to take some small action toward the change you want to see.
Thank you again to the panelists, production team, and audience. Keep moving mountains in your life!