Dear Community,

Best solstice greetings! Across the globe, communities in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres will be experiencing the Summer or Winter solstices on June 21. We find this to be a good time to reflect upon the beauty of Mother Earth as well as this moment in time. As the world faces escalating challenges from the climate to socio-ecological crises, we look to the solstice as a time to think about our responsibility to protect natural ecosystems, our communities, and our global climate. It is a time we can come together to renew our advocacy for change and our vision for a thriving future.

We also want to honor Juneteenth this week, a U.S. holiday which commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people in the US. Black liberation and racial justice are essential for a healthy and thriving future and planet, and it is vital to support Black-led organizations and groups who are fighting back against environmental racism and building just climate solutions for their communities.

Women in all of their diversity play a crucial role in the fight for climate justice. From grassroots organizing to global initiatives, women are leading the charge to mitigate the impacts of climate change on communities and the environment. They are driving innovation, advocating for policy change, and amplifying the voices of those most affected by the climate crisis. As we celebrate the solstice, we acknowledge and honor the inspiring women who have dedicated themselves to creating a more sustainable, just, and equitable world for all.

In this week's newsletter please see inspiring updates and announcements about WECAN's flourishing Women for Forests and Women for Food Sovereignty programs, and updates about current campaigns and advocacy. 

Women for Forests

Updates from the Democratic Republic of Congo

"We don’t cut down any trees in the old growth forest anymore. We realized the forests will help us in the future generations. We must leave the forests for our children. Forests are of great wealth. We are forest keepers; we look after trees like the way a shepherd looks after his cows. Now a tree has more value than a cow. To be involved in this project is of great value and joy."

   --Nyantimiriza Aline: WECAN Reforester, Bafuliru Tribe from the village of Ilundu, DR Congo

Women reforesters in the Democratic Republic of Congo carry tree seedlings to plant on damaged lands as part of the WECAN reforestation project in the Itombwe region. Photo by WECAN International

Since 2014, the WECAN Women for Forests program in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been working and organizing with women in South Kivu Province of the DRC to protect 1.6 million acres of old-growth Itombwe Rainforest from deforestation. Central to this effort is reforesting 1,209 square kilometers of the area that has been decimated by generations of slash and burn activities. Each year 45,000 or more trees are planted by WECAN reforesters, with 25 percent designated for community needs and 75 percent designated to reforest and rewild the land.

Through our programming we raise awareness about women’s rights and leadership; the long-term harm of industrial deforestation and illegal logging; protection of the Itombwe Rainforest in relation to climate change solutions; the importance of learning hands-on reforestation techniques; defending the rights of Indigenous Pygmy women and the local communities living in and around forest areas, and renewing cultural practices connected to reciprocity with the land and natural world.

This year, over 700 women and their family members participated in planting seedlings in natural forest areas that have been clear cut, as well as generating new food sovereignty nurseries for local communities. The women reforesters plant all the trees by hand without mechanical equipment or vehicles and also commit to protecting the new trees from fire and animals, while also ensuring no further clear cutting and deforestation of old growth stands. Since the beginning of the program, we've seen a tremendous growth in newly forested areas, which is bringing rain back to the region and supporting the healing of the entire natural ecosystem! 

Women in the Democratic Republic of Congo gather to plant trees as part of the WECAN reforestation project in the Itombwe region. Photo by WECAN International

In addition to planting local trees in their natural habitat, the women reforesters also plant traditional medicines and foods that are being shared in their communities, and coordinate conservation committees that raise awareness about the impact of reforestation and forest protection efforts, denounce deforestation activities and timber sales, and patrol the old-growth forests for illegal logging. 

We are very thankful to have Neema Namadamu on our team as the WECAN Coordinator for the Democratic Republic of Congo. As WECAN DR Congo Coordinator, Neema leads workshops and trainings with local women to address deforestation, build women’s leadership, support Traditional Ecological Knowledge, and protect the rich ecosystems of the Itombwe rainforest. To learn more about this program, please watch this video here!

Women are leading vital solutions necessary for protecting our natural world, and we are very inspired by the WECAN DR Congo forest keepers.

Program participants in the Democratic Republic of Congo prepare a nursery site as part of the WECAN reforestation project in the Itombwe region. Photo by WECAN International

Women for Food Sovereignty Updates

WECAN’s Indigenous and Grassroots Food Sovereignty Program works with Indigenous and frontline women in all of their diversity to secure and grow food and medicinal herbs for their communities and support a sustainable path toward community resiliency during cascading crises of climate change and colonization. Through garden networks and tree nurseries, women are working to preserve and propagate plant knowledge, developing sustainability, community and local economies by returning to seeding adaptive practices, rooted in Traditional Ecological Knowledge, and inspiring solutions to modern-day challenges.

Please see below for updates from our program regions!

Inspiring Announcement — The Ponca Earthen Lodge Project for Food Sovereignty and Safe Harbor

WECAN is excited to announce the new Ponca Earthen Lodge Project for Food Sovereignty, based in Ponca Nation, Oklahoma! The project is being initiated through partnership between Indigenous Ponca elder, Casey Camp-Horinek, the visionary of the project who will coordinate the program and WECAN. Please click on the image below to see a video message from Casey Camp-Horinek about the project:

The recent IPCC reports have made clear the harrowing impacts of the climate crisis to expect in coming years, and Oklahoma is no exception. Drought, heat waves, and climate disasters, like tornadoes, are expected to worsen throughout Oklahoma. As the climate crisis escalates the need for safe sanctuary that can house and feed impacted communities is also escalating. Most immediately this year, as part of this project, we are building a traditional Earthen Lodge for food security and sovereignty, safe haven during climate disasters, and to address rising domestic violence in the region.  

The Earthen Lodge can withstand extreme weather conditions and provide space to grow and store Ponca traditional first foods and spaces for important cultural ceremonies. 

Oklahoma ranks fourth in the country for crude oil production and extraction of natural gas. The Ponca tribe lives in a fossil fuel epicenter of fracking, pipelines, petrochemical plants, and refineries, which has led to severe pollution of the air, soil, and waters. The food will be grown using methods that rely on generational Indigenous knowledge, and provide safe and healthy food for the community. This project is led by Casey Camp-Horinek and the Women’s Society in the Ponca community. Stay updated and learn more about the program here.

Updates — Okla Hina Ikhish Holo Collective in the Gulf South

Since 2020, at the end of the Mississippi River, in the place the Chahta (Choctaw) call Bvlbancha, the Okla Hina Ikhish Holo, People of the Sacred Medicine Trail, a network of femme and nonbinary Indigenous gardeners, has been working urgently to respond to the climate crisis. Okla Hina Ikhish Holo, in collaboration with the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN), is working to defend and protect and to restore their lands and waters in the Mississippi River Delta and within the ancestral territories of the Chata and Mvskoke. 

The Okla Hina Ikhish Holo Collective has been supporting the development of land in their original territories, to act as a space for community gatherings, food sovereignty, workshops, advocacy, and shelter in the wake of climate chaos. Working across three states, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, the collective is re-establishing old trade routes and networks to adapt and co-create new future paths for trade-ways that strengthen decentralized systems of support, build circular economies, and support local biodiversity, food sovereignty, and stewardship of their traditional territories.

This year, members of Okla Hina Ikhish Holo have planted native trees to contribute to a large and flourishing Food Forest, built housing structures on land for ceremonies and shelter during hurricanes, and held many workshops and outreach activities.

Since the beginning of the program, we have conducted 25 internal and external workshops and community outreach events. These educational events uplift the Traditional Ecological Knowledge and cultural practices of the Indigenous communities in the area, sustainable growing practices, and creating medicines and food products from the crops they grow. Topics have included, building solar dehydrators, learning about circular economies, how to manage invasive species, learning plant identification, how to cast cover crop seeds, planting food forests, and more.

The program is powerfully stewarded by Monique Verdin (Houma Nation), who is the WECAN Food Sovereignty Program Coordinator in the Gulf South, among other vital leadership roles. To learn more about this wonderful program, please see this video here. We look forward to our continued work growing food and medicines, and supporting Land Back initiatives and ongoing sovereignty efforts. 

Left: Members of the Okla Hina Ikhish Holo collective in the Gulf South learning to build a solar dehydrator.

Photo credit: WECAN International

Right: Tammy Greer of the Okla Hina Ikhish Holo collective coordinates an outreach booth at the local Jazzfest to share about food sovereignty efforts. Photo Credit: WECAN International

Report Back on June National Week of Action

to End the Era of Fossil Fuels

On June 8, the WECAN team was in Washington D.C. to demand President Biden stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), restore NEPA, end the era of fossil fuels, and declare a climate emergency.

Photo Credit: Ashley Guardado / WECAN International

On June 8, the WECAN team took action and risked arrest in Washington D.C. to demand President Biden stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), restore the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and stop fossil fuels. This was a kick off rally for for a national week of action from June 8-11 to urge President Biden to use his executive powers to end the era of fossil fuels and declare a climate emergency!

The toxic smoke filled skies from climate-induced wildfires in Canada could not have given law-makers in Washington D.C. and Biden a more poignant warning — the climate crisis is here, and it is being fueled by fossil fuels! The IPCC report, International Energy Agency, and UN Secretary General have all stated that any fossil fuel expansion is not compatible with keeping global warming below 1.5C — thus it is imperative that we stand with frontline communities to protect people and planet and call for the Biden Administration to stop any and all fossil fuel expansion!

For over a century, Appalachia and frontline communities have been deemed a sacrifice zone, with the fossil fuel industry destroying communities, ecosystems, water, and our global climate. We took action in D.C. to join frontline communities in saying #NoMVP #ShutDownLine5 and stop the expansion of fossil fuels from the Willow Project and LNG projects in Alaska to the many projects in the Gulf South. 

During the action, frontline leaders, and allies including Osprey Orielle Lake, WECAN Executive Director, and Ashley Guardado, WECAN Program Associate, risked arrest in solidarity with efforts to stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline. 

See the Full Action Photo Album Here!

Left: Ashley Guardado, WECAN Program Associate and Osprey Orielle Lake, WECAN Executive Director risking arrest outside the White House in solidarity with efforts to stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

Photo Credit: Ashley Guardado / WECAN International

Right: Crystal Cavalier (Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation), Co-Founder, Seven Directions of Service, and Osprey Orielle Lake, WECAN Executive Director outside the White House during an action to stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Photo Credit: Ashley Guardado / WECAN International

In addition to the action in Washington D.C. Allison Fabrizio, WECAN Research Associate, was in Chicago for another action to end the era of fossil fuels held on June 9. Allison joined nationwide calls to hold President Biden accountable, while shining a light on the risks of the Line 5 pipeline in the Great Lakes region.

Chicago action to End the Era of Fossil Fuels. Photo Credit: Allison Fabrizio / WECAN International

September Mobilizations

End the Era of Fossil Fuels

On June 15 WECAN co-organized and joined over 500 groups across six continents to demand President Biden stop fossil fuel expansion ahead of the UN Secretary General’s Climate Ambition Summit this September. Read our full letter here.

The latest climate science is clear that any new fossil fuel development is incompatible with international goals to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. A global fossil fuel phaseout is necessary to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change, and those nations that have the most financial resources, and that have contributed the most to the climate emergency, must lead the way. Accordingly, UN Secretary General Guterres has said the ticket to entry at the Climate Ambition Summit for the United States, and other wealthy nations, is ending fossil fuel expansion and beginning a phase out of existing fossil fuel production.

Currently, the United States is the world’s top oil and gas producer, and the Biden Administration and top polluting countries, have an outsized responsibility to implement a global and just transition away from fossil fuels. This includes stopping approvals for fossil fuel projects, phasing out fossil fuel production on public lands and waters, stopping fossil fuel exports to the extent allowed under the law, and providing the necessary resources for the countries most harmed and least responsible for the climate crisis, especially those in the Global South. 

Following the letter release, Osprey Orielle Lake, Executive Direction, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) stated:

"Our communities, ecosystems, and futures are not bargaining chips for further concessions to the fossil fuel industry. Every day communities globally are experiencing the devastation of climate chaos due to fossil fuel expansion, yet governments continue to delay the serious action necessary for protecting people and planet. Despite promises to be a global climate leader, President Biden continues to greenlight dangerous extractive projects that are not aligned with the 1.5C climate target. The U.S. has a historic responsibility to take lead on ending the era of fossil fuels. To be a climate leader, President Biden must use his executive power to stop all fossil fuel expansion, declare a climate emergency, and invest in an immediate equitable energy transition. We will not give up on a thriving and healthy future for all generations, and that means ending the tyranny of the fossil fuel industry in the US and globally."

As part of global efforts to end the era of fossil fuels, we are taking to the streets in September for a March to End Fossil Fuels. See this link for more details about the actions happening worldwide and in New York City:

Updates on Efforts to Shutdown Line 5

The Bad River Band Respond to Court Decision to Shutdown Line 5 Due to Imminent Threat

On June 16, in response to a court filing by the Bad River Band in Wisconsin, a federal court ordered that Enbridge must, within three years, cease the flow of oil and decommission the segment of the Line 5 pipeline that is illegally operating and trespassing on the reservation territories of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians.

Following the court order, Mike Wiggins, Chairman of the Bad River Band stated: “The Band appreciates the Court putting an end to Enbridge’s flagrant trespass and disregard for our rights. Tribal sovereignty prevailed over corporate profits...But the Band’s victory is not a cause for unqualified celebration. We are under no illusion that Enbridge will do the right thing. We expect them to fight this order with all of their corporate might. This is just one step in protecting our people and water.”

Please see the full response from the Bad River Band here.

Due to recent flooding this Spring, erosion of a local riverbank has led to Line 5’s centerline to be within 11 feet or less of the river waters, creating an urgent and immediate threat of a pipeline rupture and oil spill. If the pipeline ruptured it would poison the Bad River watershed and Lake Superior, impacting the Great Lakes region which holds one-fifth of the world’s fresh surface water, and provides drinking water for 40 million people in North America.

In addition, Indigenous communities have long relied on fishing, wild rice, medicines, and other plants and animals from the Bad River and Lake Superior. A rupture and oil spill would pose a catastrophic threat to their community, the wider public, the river, and Lake Superior. At the end of May, Indigenous women leaders from the Indigenous Women’s Treaty Alliance, joined by over 150 organizations, and facilitated by WECAN, submitted a letter to the Biden Administration with an emergency request to decommission Enbridge Line 5 pipeline, following the leadership of the Bad River Band.

Local Actions Turn up the Heat to Shutdown and Stop Line 5

"The multiple solidarity events give a platform for local citizens and folks of the Great Lakes region a space to learn about the imminent catastrophe, amplify their voices and how they can support in solidarity, a space to share their concerns as citizens living in the region, demand line 5 to be shut down to their local and state representatives and also learn about the direct correlation of the extraction Industry and how it contributes to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives epidemic of violence."

--- Rene Ann Goodrich, Bad River Tribal Member, WI DOJ MMIW Taskforce Member, Indigenous Women’s Treaty Alliance

Indigenous women water protectors in action demanding no more Missing Murdered Indigenous Women or Relatives and to stop the Line 5 Pipeline in the Great Lakes Region. Photo courtesy of Rene Anne Goodrich / Indigenous Women's Treaty Alliance.

Efforts continue to shut down Line 5 and protect local ecosystems, water, rice beds, and communities in the Great Lakes region. Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline was originally built in 1953, and continues to operate nearly 20 years past its engineered lifespan, transporting crude oil through northern Wisconsin, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and under the Straits of Mackinac.

In response to the imminent threat of a Line 5 rupture (as mentioned in the previous section), local and national groups have been taking action to shut down Line 5 for good. Recently, Rene Ann Goodrich, a member of the Indigenous Women's Treaty Alliance, engaged in a variety of events bringing attention to the impacts of the Line 5 pipeline, which is currently at higher risk of breakage due to flooding and erosion. During the action, local leaders also brought attention to the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives (MMIWR), which studies have shown is further exacerbated by ‘man camps’, temporary housing sites set up for construction workers along pipeline routes. These camps have often been associated with increased drug use and violence towards local Indigenous communities. 

Thank you to Rene Ann Goodrich, member of the Indigenous Women's Treaty Alliance for the featured photos. WECAN has been very honored to facilitate the Indigenous Women’s Treaty Alliance, a group of Indigenous women leaders from the Great Lakes region. Please learn more and stay connected here:

In both photos, Indigenous water protectors and allies host a rally to stop the Line 5 pipeline, protect local waterways, and bring awareness to the epidemic of Missing Murdered Indigenous Women. Photos courtesy of Rene Anne Goodrich / Indigenous Women's Treaty Alliance.

Media Round Up

Please see below for selected media highlights from recent WECAN activities and campaigns:

WECAN is Hiring for a Policy Coordinator

The Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) is seeking a Policy Coordinator to join our dynamic team working for climate justice, systemic change, and women’s and feminist leadership in global climate solutions. See a full description below!

Full-Time Policy Coordinator

The Policy Coordinator will work remotely, with the support of WECAN’s Executive Director, to coordinate ongoing policy campaigns and advocacy efforts. This will include conducting research, analyzing policy strategies, writing reports, briefs, and educational materials, and supporting WECAN campaigns and coalition building to push forward progressive policies within a climate justice framework. 

The Policy Coordinator will work across WECAN’s campaigns, with a specific focus on WECAN’s fossil fuel resistance and divestment campaigns, advocating for governments and financial institutions to stop fossil fuel expansion and deforestation. This role will also include advocating for policies that implement human rights and Indigenous rights, a Just Transition, care economies, and supporting ongoing policy work through various coalitions uplifting feminist climate policies. 

Read the full job description here. We are accepting applications on a rolling basis, with an initial deadline of Monday, June 26.

Please consider supporting WECAN as we continue to uplift the leadership and solutions of women and feminists worldwide fighting for climate justice and the defense of the planet for current and future generations.
For the Earth and All Generations,

Women's Earth and Climate Action Network
(WECAN) International Team
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