Conservation is based on a colonial model that has a long history of contributing to systemic oppression, devaluing non-white worldviews, and Indigenous erasure. Governments would move people off land, violate their title and rights, and designate the area a park or protected area. Not surprisingly then, land and ocean conservation movements, and the people that work in conservation, are predominantly white and middle class. Meanwhile, marginalized communities are often the most affected by changes in climate or the environment, and today’s youth will bear the long-term burden of our current choices.
As part of our ongoing work to both decolonize our organization – and influence decolonization in the movement – and to create more spaces for marginalized voices in decision making processes, we would like to more proactively challenge the status quo.
While we do more decolonization, anti-oppression and diversity, equity and inclusion work with our staff and board, we would also like to create two new roles on our staff team for young Indigenous youth and folks of colour. The goal would be to have them work directly within our program teams and be fully engaged in decision making, policy development (both at an organizational level and a government level), and all aspects of programming. They will be mentored by staff at the organization to develop strong skills, while having space to shape conservation plans with their own knowledge and experience.