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Indigenous activists lead tens of thousands in mass climate demonstration

Niall Christie and Bethany Rielly in Glasgow

INDIGENOUS activists led tens of thousands of protesters through the streets of Glasgow on Saturday, alongside millions across the world to demand real action to tackle the climate crisis. 

The Cop26 Coalition said that the rally was aimed at raising the voices of those “sidelined” at the climate conference, including indigenous, marginalised and front-line communities.

Organisers said that about 500,000 people took part in protests across Britain on Saturday, with 100,000 braving the wind and rain in Glasgow. 

Delegates from the Minga Indigena, a collective of indigenous leaders, told crowds: “I have come here to defend my ancestors.

“Just as our ancestors have defended the lands we will continue. To leave the generation alive I have travelled all this way.”

Yvette Arellano, a tribal member of the United Houma Nation in the US, said that her land is home to the largest petrochemical plant in the country, leading to many women, including herself, becoming infertile.

Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate told crowds that the solar panels she raised money to install on a local school had been destroyed in a storm the following night. 

“The strong winds and heavy rainfall will not stop, because the words and promises of leaders do not match their actions,” she said. 

“And this is just one example. I need someone to tell me how to explain to farmers who are losing their crops and farms because of droughts and floods, while leaders continue to open up new coal power stations.”

Scott Tully of the Cop26 Coalition said that he was shocked and inspired after the march, claiming it showed that it was a real signal the justice movement won’t take any nonsense.

He said: “These moments are really powerful and ones to build on. There’s plenty out there to fight for, it’s about getting those wins.”


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