As part of the Indigenous Women Speak Out Series, Women eNews spoke with Kluane Adamek of Kluane First Nation from Yukon Territory in Northern Canada. Adamek is the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Yukon Regional Chief.
Adamek is part of the Dakl’aweidi family (Killerwhale clan). Her traditional name is Aagé, meaning ‘Daughter of the Sea.’ They have a variety of traditions of Southern Tutchone, Tlingit, Irish, Scottish and German. They currently have AFN National Portfolios for Climate Change and Environment, Youth and Modern Treaties.
Martha Troian, a Canadian-based journalist and producer, recently interviewed Kluane Adamek of Women eNews.
(The following discussion has been modified to make it longer and clearer.)
Martha Troian (MT): What are you most proud of when it comes to your people, your country and your community?
Kluane Ademek (KA): Especially this year, we have seen the lives of women and young people being taken over recently. What I am most proud of at the moment, which is both complex and real and raw, is that the Indians, especially in the North, continue to be bold and continue to lead and establish solutions to the problems on the ground. During the epidemic, I have seen people come together in a different way, and I think it speaks of the strength and courage we have as Indians.
MT: How did you become involved in politics? What’s so amazing about the project?
KA: I was a member of the Assembly of the First Nations Youth Council, so I had the privilege of representing the Yukon Region for the AFN Regional Conventions, and I was shocked. It was amazing for me to see all these young people who were so committed to advancing needs and solutions. I am the third known to be a major district woman in this area. After being elected for the first time and then being elected in 2018, we saw the Province of Ontario elect a woman and then the Province of Alberta elects a woman for the first time. It was really powerful to see people and women on the ground working to achieve everything we discussed, whether it was housing, environment or education.
MT: Can you explain why it is important to identify the matriarchs who are ahead of us and what they can teach us?
KA: When I say Yukon is matriarchal and matrilineal, I know that many countries and territories are like this. We also have a family system that is very important in the control areas. Those systems are the administrative systems and systems that have existed for thousands of years. My grandmother died during the epidemic, and it has been extremely difficult. He always told me that this generation has a different problem and a different responsibility, and we need to find this balance that comes from holding men, women, our two spirits, and people of all races. This design also comes from those of us who have joined parents – we are all trying to find this moccasin on one foot and stiletto on the other image.
MT: Can you talk about the realities of being a natural Mother in leadership today?
KA: I think it is very important for all women to take their rightful place and move forward. Is it easy? No. There is age inequality, gender-based violence, and all of these are biological. I am grateful to have had such a strong relationship with women as the former kings of the provinces and the women I look up to in seniors like Shirley Adamson and Elder Mary Jane Jim. These women have held various leadership positions and responsibilities. Some of the things he has experienced are my own experiences, and after 25 years. Something I have found interesting about this position is two points for men and women. I’m very black and honest because I think it’s important that we don’t have sugar – which won’t make the changes that are necessary. As we push harder, we also notice that things are changing. I want the shouts of amazing men who are united out there, especially our men standing next to us, behind us, in front of us, or wherever we want them.
MT: I wanted to ask you about nature & climate advertising, and youth leadership. These are the two areas closest to your heart; why?
KA: Lake Kluane has dropped nearly 10 feet[10 m]in the last decade. We are seeing the huge impact of global warming and climate change on our region, and it is amazing. His Kluane is part of what we are known to be within, so we see this happening on the ground. The effects of the weather in the north occur, as we know, three times faster than anywhere else. I feel I have a responsibility at my core to continue to do whatever I can to alleviate the problem. My passion will always be to make sure we make space for young people. We started this amazing work in Yukon and it came directly from the young people in our area. We held a seasonal convention last year, and brought together adults and youth. It was called a ‘Share Heart,’ and it was amazing. What came out of that was a partnership that gave young people a project to lead, where they would form their own responses of their own kind. It is a unique project, but it came from young people and knowledge keepers, and this is an important part of building future strategies.
MT: Is there a message you can bring to future leaders? I wonder why it is important to empower emerging and young leaders?
KA: I would like to shout “We Matter,” who started a great project, and I think health and wellness are the most important part of this discussion. I want to say to everyone who is listening right now, but especially young people: you are important and you are loved! We want everyone to be part of the change that is coming. There are many ways in which people can be part of this work and remember the importance of setting boundaries for your health and well-being.
MT: Is there anything else you would like to add?
KA: We have a mission to teach different generations about what gender equality looks like. What does that mean? What are the pros and cons? It should not be on the shoulders of only women or well-known women, and we should create more spaces for LGBTQIA2S + people. I would like to see more elected leaders volunteer to create that important space and remember how we treat people. I think one of our greatest doctrines is respect. It doesn’t matter how you identify yourself, how you look, or how old you are, how you know you are a man or a woman; it’s about who you are and what you look like.
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