Indigenous Women from the Asia-Pacific make their voices heard in Rio+20

 Tuiloma Lina Samu who resides in Aoteara gives her reflections & observations about  Rio+20, she was attending with  the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) as an Indigenous women's rep for Samoa.

 Malo lava le lagi e mama ma le soifua maua! This morning as I prepare to go to the "main" conference of Rio +20 at the Rio Centro, I have reflected upon the meetings that I have attended for the past two days with indigenous people from all over the world. I am honoured to have heard the stories, the histories and the ongoing battle that many have with concerns over discrimination, disadvantage and even threat of death and killing. 

I was able to share with others about our concerns in the Pasifika: of Tagaloa/ Tangaroa consuming our islands; that fresh water supply is dwindling in some areas because of the rising seas destroying groundwater tables; that we are like many other regions a dumping ground for the chemicals and toxins that the first world makes illegal in its own homes; that the Pacific Ocean is home to a plastic formation the size of France. It seems so unfair that the smallest polluters are paying the highest price! The biggest emphasis from the Indigenous Peoples' fonotaga at the Museu da Republica is that culture - that is languages our identities and our traditional/ ancestral knowledge is a fundamental dimension of sustainable development. 

Sustainable development will only happen if there are sustainable relationships between us as human beings - so we have to talk to each other as aiga/ kainga/ famili/ whanau about how we're going to do our part to take care of the natural resources we've been blessed with. This is what our Samoan ancestors called "o le va fealofani" and what Maori call "whakawhanaungatanga". 

It is our relationships of caring and co-operation that is key to finding solutions. Even though these problems have been caused by industrial manufacturing and production - we have responsibilities and obligations ourselves as indigenous peoples. Look at how our ancestors for millennia, our parents and grandparents and great grandparents lived within their means and only taking what they need. In the Pasefika, we don't face continuous threats of war and genocide as many other people do, yet we have to be vigilant to ensure that we are not bullied by our governments and by transnational companies advancing the "economic growth" agenda. 

I know that many of us are concerned about the corruption in our Pasefika region - of the suffering of our peoples where those in power seem to be prospering. What is beautiful, is that we have the opportunity and the space to be able to organise ourselves, to critically question decisions and hold decision-makers responsible and to challenge injustices of which there are many. I dedicate this update to the Advance Pasifika March supporters who drew attention to social inequities for Pasifika; to Te Whanau a Apanui fighting deep sea drilling and fracking in their rohe/ area; to Taranaki iwi still fighting for their rights regarding drilling of gas in their rohe; To Tame Iti who in my opinion has been unfairly imprisoned; to those of you putting your time and energy into fighting social injustices and those of you making a difference in your own families/ aiga/ kainga/ whanau on a daily basis. The most powerful thing we can do is teach our loved ones to question: What? Why? When? How? Where? Which? Who/m? To question and challenge authority with confidence. Soifua ma ia manuia! ♥ ♥ ♥

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