Shawn Iserhoff talks sustainability at European environmental conference

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Mistissini band councillor Shawn Iserhoff recently returned from a conference of environmental activists in Germany with an increased sense of enthusiasm towards environmental issues.

Iserhoff attended the 6th International Convention of Environmental Laureates in Freiburg, Germany, March 9-12. The conference is a networking platform for environmental advocates from around the world. To be invited as an environmental laureate, a person or group must be the recipients of an award for work in the field of environmental preservation.

Iserhoff was asked to attend because of his work with the Mistissini youth council and their opposition campaign against uranium mining that took off in 2012.

“It was the youth of Mistissini who initiated the fight against uranium in Eeyou Istchee,” Iserhoff recalled. “We basically got the ball rolling in terms of the opposition and after that came the support from the Cree Nation of Mistissini and the Grand Council at the Annual General Assembly back in 2012.”

ICEL2017_Group picture_Copyright EEF

In 2015, the youth of Mistissini received the Nuclear-Free Future Award by the Nuclear-Free Future Award Foundation (NFFAF) based in Munich, Germany in recognition of their anti-uranium movement.

The winners of such awards are often invited to attend the conference to talk about their environmental campaigns, make contacts and exchange ideas.

Iserhoff met with another youth group from Africa fighting a similar battle against uranium mining. He said discussions with the group led to plans for future alliances.

The conference also hosted presentations and a young talents day. The young talents day showcased the UWC Robert Borsch College in Freiburg, a boarding school for students from around the world that is renowned for its education curriculum with an emphasis on environmental issues.

Iserhoff said that it was an honour to represent the Cree nation at such a prestigious and inspiring event. “It’s a very humbling experience seeing the amount of work that is being done globally in terms of environmental issues,” Iserhoff said.

One project that impressed him wICEL2017_Nuclear Free Future Award_Copyright Biegertas the construction of a village entirely powered by renewable energy such as solar panels and wind power. Another inspiring story was a project in India that teaches elderly women to construct solar panels.

“It was one of the highlights of my life to be able to experience and being able to come together with people who’ve done tremendous work with relation to environmental issues,” Iserhoff said.

Iserhoff noted that youth mobilization over issues like the uranium battle leads to other opportunities to meet and learn from other activists.

“With the NFF award that we won in 2015, that just goes to show how much the Cree youth are being recognized.”

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