Berta Cáceres, our dear friend.
A beautiful strong, courageous and amazing woman leader.
In our way as a people of the Earth, Berta will carry on in her courageous work to protect her land, people and future generations.
A year ago we stood together, side by side. I was honoured to receive the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize with you, an environmental hero protecting the Gualcarque River as leader of the Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) and on behalf of the Lenca Indigenous peoples against the destructive Agua Zarca Dam.
I truly cannot believe this is possible in 2016! A woman, rightfully standing up as a voice of her people and Mother Earth, murdered in her own home. Days before International Women's Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. On that day I celebrated the memories of my beautiful friend Berta.
Honduras is a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the ILO Convention 169 both set international standards and processes for consent of Indigenous Peoples regarding projects like the Agua Zarca Dam. Berta, COPINH and the Lenca did not give their free, prior informed consent as they share a spiritual bond with the Gualcarque River.
The Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) have a responsibility to protect the Indigenous rights – human rights - of the Lenca and must investigate the assassination of our friend Berta.
We share the responsibility to oppose violence against women and girls at the community, national and international levels. Is it right to murder an Indigenous woman who spoke out for protection of a people, a land, water and all of life for her children and grandchildren?
I say to the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, I am so very thankful for you and your government for taking responsible steps to undertake the long-standing task of establishing an inquiry into the missing and murdered women and girls across Canada. I respectfully call on you now to support the call for the IACHR and UNHRC to immediately investigate the murder of my courageous friend Berta Cáceres who stood for years to protect her people, children, lands, waters for future generations.
Berta proudly stated “from the spirits of young girls, who teaches us that giving our lives in various ways for the protection of the rivers is giving our lives for the well-being of humanity and of this planet.
Our commitment to continue protecting our waters, the rivers, our shared resources and nature in general as well as our rights as a people. Let us wake up, humankind we're out of time!”
As a lasting tribute to Berta, let us build, come together and remain hopeful as we defend and care for the blood of this Earth and of its' spirits.
2015 Goldman Prize Winner
Nits'il?in Yaz/Councillor, Xeni Gwet'in First Nations
First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining Founding Member
Denisiqi Services Society Board President
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
President, Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs
Chief Robert Chamberlin
Vice-President, Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs
Chief Judy Wilson
Secretary-Treasurer, Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs
Women’s Representative, Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs