Minister Catherine McKenna, President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Natan Obed, Secretary Sally Jewell, Bruce Heyman U.S. Ambassador to Canada. (
Minister Catherine McKenna, President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Natan Obed, Secretary Sally Jewell, Bruce Heyman U.S. Ambassador to Canada. ( U.S. Department of the Interior)

Canada’s Women Climate Conference


Minister McKenna, who is the head of the Environment Climate Change Canada, announced last month that Canada will be holding the Women Leaders Kicking it on Climate Summit in May.

Gender equality is one of the current Canadian Federal Government priorities. This has be once again become clear in the recent 2018 Federal Budget which mentioned the word gender 359 times. The Women Leaders Kicking it on Climate Change Summit is another example of the importance that gender equality is playing in today’s federal politics in Canada. This summit is scheduled to be held on May 16th and 17th in Ottawa and is designed to be in preparation for the G7 Summit which Canada is hosting later in the year.

Northern Participation:

With an event such as this, that is so heavily focused on climate change, the expectation would be that the Canadian government would strive to work directly with northern leaders. There are numerous examples of northern Indigenous women leaders who would be qualified to engage in such a conference, including Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Mary Simon, Nancy Karetak-Lindell and Madeleine Redfern.

Yet, when the ministry was asked about the role that specific northerners will play in the lead-up to the event and the event itself, the reply was non committal. “Consultation and engagement with Indigenous peoples is one of the key steps to making good, sound and sustainable environmental decisions, and will be reflected in the Summit. Around the world, people with less access to resources and with greater responsibility for family and community welfare are feeling the effects of climate change the most” said Amélie Desmarais, the media spokesperson for Environment and Climate Change Canada.


Outcome of the Event

As Ms. Desmarais commented, the conference, “will bring together approximately 80 high-level female influencers from the public, private, academic and civil-society sectors, both from within Canada and globally.” Canada is looking to create a conversation about what impacts climate change have specifically on women around the world.

When asked about the direct outcomes of the event, Ms. Desmarais responded, “Women and men may experience the effects of climate change differently, and the responses to climate change must therefore be gender-responsive. The Women Leaders Kicking it on Climate Summit will demonstrate and advance climate action, the empowerment of women and gender equality.”

The conference, as mentioned, is scheduled to be held in May which is only about four weeks away. The world will be watching to see if the conference not only shows the gendered impacts of climate change, but also what role Canada sees the Indigenous and specifically the northern women of the world playing in these conversations.


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