Indigenous Environmental Activist Shares Experience, Urges Action

Environmental activist Patricia Gualinga spoke to and answered questions from Worcester State students with the help of a translator.

By: Josh Catalano

Worcester State University students listened intently Tuesday October 5, 2019, as Patricia Gualinga spoke about climate change and the Amazon. Gualinga is the leader of the Sarayaku people, indigenous to the Ecuadorian Amazon. Gualinga spoke in Spanish and WSU professor Carlos Fontes translated for her.

The event began with Gualinga describing growing up in the Amazon and how her people viewed and interacted with their environment. She explained how the destruction of the forest motivated her to begin speaking up against it. Gualinga created the “Living Forest” proposal that she has brought to the Paris Climate Summit.

“This is an urgent time, a time to alert people everywhere, so scientists have a time to catch up,” Gualinga said. “[There is] no need to struggle in silence, but to reach out.” 

The “Living Forest” proposal states that ecosystems have rights as natural living beings. There are spaces within spaces on the planet that regenerate.   

Gualinga explained that governments only think of climate change in market terms, and that it is very difficult to deal with governments in these terms. Young people will suffer the consequences. 

“I had no power in [my] village, no one knew me… when one makes a decision, a goal, one can start in one’s immediate space. Actions of solidarity,” Gualinga responded when asked what a student could do. “[This is] the responsibility of everyone, not just the Sarayuka.” Gualinga included the protection of sacred spaces with this. Sacred spaces are forests with an abundance of flora and fauna, and rare and unique plants and animals. These spaces connect to primary forests, such as the Amazon. 

Gualinga emphasized that this is the time for others to take on this responsibility, take on this mantle, this struggle with them. There are many things an individual can do, she told attendees, and no one should feel hopeless or powerless if their achievements are not global. Everything little bit helps.

1 Comment

  1. es bueno defender el planeta la selva viviente todos los sere que habitan en la elmanto verde de la selva son vivo no podemos ver por que estamos contaminados el aire que respiramos proviene de la amazonia purificandose con los hojas de los arboles sagrados el agua nace en los paramos como vertientes luego se transforman en rios gigantes donde habitan seres como nosotros dentro de la espiritualidad hablamos cuando tomamos la bebida sagrada las lagunas donde habitan muchos seres cuidadores de su alrededor tambien estan en conecxion para nuestras vidas ellos son puros y no quieren que acabemos con la naturaleza el hombre es el mas no civilisado que no respeta ala naturaleza contamina saca lasngre de la tierra destruye el ecosistema y esta acabando con la amazonia y vidas humanas en el mundo hay guerras por todas partes es triste escuchar todo esto ver como entre humanos nos estamos acabandonos

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