A Radical Revision of the Public Health Response to Environmental Crisis in a Warming World: Contributions of Indigenous Knowledges and Indigenous Feminist Perspectives


Lewis, Diana, Lewis Williams, and Rhys Jones. 2020. “A Radical Revision of the Public Health Response to Environmental Crisis in a Warming World: Contributions of Indigenous Knowledges and Indigenous Feminist Perspectives.” Canadian Journal of Public Health 111 (6): 897–900.

Authors: Diana Lewis, Lewis Williams, Rhys Jones


Indigenous peoples have long been successful at adapting to climatic and environmental changes. However, anthropogenic climatic crisis represents an epoch of intensified colonialism which poses particular challenges to Indigenous peoples throughout the world, including those in wealthier ‘modern’ nation states. Indigenous peoples also possess worldviews and traditional knowledge systems that are critical to climate mitigation and adaptation, yet, paradoxically, these are devalued and marginalized and have yet to be recognized as essential foundations of public health. In this article, we provide an overview of how public health policy and discourse fails Indigenous peoples living in the colonial nation states of Canada and Aotearoa New Zealand. We argue that addressing these systemic failures requires the incorporation of Indigenous knowledges and Indigenous feminist perspectives beyond superficial understandings in public health-related climate change policy and practice, and that systems transformation of this nature will in turn require a radical revision of settler understandings of the determinants of health. Further, public health climate change responses that centre Indigenous knowledges and Indigenous feminist perspectives as presented by Indigenous peoples themselves must underpin from local to global levels.
Les peuples autochtones ont de tout temps réussi à s’adapter aux changements du climat et de leur environnement. La crise climatique anthropogène constitue toutefois une époque de colonialisme intensifié qui pose des difficultés particulières aux peuples autochtones du monde entier, y compris ceux des États-nations riches et « modernes ». Les peuples autochtones possèdent aussi des visions du monde et des systèmes de savoir traditionnels indispensables aux efforts d’atténuation et d’adaptation au changement climatique; paradoxalement, ces visions et systèmes sont dévalués et marginalisés et ne sont pas encore reconnus comme étant des bases essentielles de la santé publique. Dans cet article, nous expliquons en général en quoi les politiques et le discours de la santé publique laissent sur le carreau les peuples autochtones vivant dans les États-nations coloniaux du Canada et d’Aotearoa (la Nouvelle-Zélande). Nous faisons valoir que pour aborder ces échecs systémiques, il faut intégrer les savoirs autochtones et les perspectives féministes autochtones au-delà d’une compréhension superficielle des politiques et des pratiques de santé publique relatives au changement climatique, et qu’une telle transformation des systèmes exigera en retour une révision radicale des savoirs coloniaux sur les déterminants de la santé. Plus encore, les ripostes de la santé publique au changement climatique, que ce soit à l’échelle locale ou mondiale, doivent être centrées sur les savoirs autochtones et les perspectives féministes autochtones tels que présentés par les peuples autochtones eux-mêmes.

Keywords: public health, climate change, indigenous, competencies, feminist, santé publique, changement climatique, autochtones, compétences, féminisme

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Environment, Climate Change, Feminisms, Health, Indigenous, Indigenous Knowledge Systems Regions: Americas, Oceania Countries: Canada, New Zealand

Year: 2020

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