By Serena Mendizaba–





As Haudenosaunee peoples, we govern ourselves through the families we come from, passed down through generations of our matrilineal line. I am Cayuga Wolf Clan, shaping and influencing every fibre of my climate justice, and only because of the women that I come from, and the clan I inherited from them. 




Haudenosaunee people in Six Nations inherit the past of our people through centuries of resistance and exerting sovereignty on the frontlines, and in regional, national, and international spaces. There is no Haudenosaunee climate justice without the acknowledgement of our ancestors, and the love they had for their coming faces.




There is no climate justice without kinship and community. Building kinship and community will be the hardest part of this transition, but it will be the most fulfilling and the most vital. We hold the collective power in our collective spaces to create the communities and kinship networks that will ignite our pathway to liberation, one that will bring us to a life of joy, love, and care for all. 



Knowledge and Culture

We cannot be Haudenosaunee without our knowledge, and we cannot hold our knowledge without the lands and waters we have existed on since time immemorial. Our culture is our knowledge, and it is inherently intertwined with our territories. As the ‘People of the Longhouse’, we cannot be Haudenosaunee without our ceremonial, land-based knowledge and culture. 



Land Back

Land Back is essential for a Just Transition. We must embody a clear recognition of Indigenous rights, Indigenous hereditary governance, and free, prior and informed consent for climate activism to be meaningful. As Haudenosaunee peoples on the Grand River, we live in the intersection of Land Back, Haudenosaunee sovereignty, and Indigenous Environmental Protection. 




To sustain movements, we need culturally relevant, community-led infrastructure in place. Our people sacrifice their lives on the frontlines, and we need infrastructure to create comfort for those doing the work that is sustaining our communities and territories. We must build housing, access to water, food security, and wellness support to build collective resilience and healing justice in our movements. 




Our communities have been long aware of the impacts we are facing from environmental dispossession to climate change, and we believe we are deserving of solutions and positive community development led by our culture, knowledge, and inherent governance.




Building relationships and sharing knowledge with people, communities, and nations is the backbone of climate justice. Storytelling is who we are as Haudenosaunee, and we must share with one another to find a way forward. 




To build solidarity is to be rooted in mutual liberation. We cannot find liberation without the liberation of all communities impacted by colonialism and capitalism. We must build kinship



About the Author

Serena Mendizabal (she/her) is a Cayuga Wolf Clan Panamanian woman from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. Serena is a community-based researcher and grassroots organizer. Serena recently graduated from a Master of Geography & Environment with a focus on Indigenous environmental health governance alongside Pictou Landing First Nation and Tobique First Nation. Serena first began her journey in clean energy when she was 18 working in community engagement and communications at the Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation. While working in community engagement, she found gaps in community consent with her community’s clean energy portfolio and went on to further explore what a true ‘just transition’ can look like in a community of over 28,000 members. From there on out, Serena has dedicated her studies and extracurriculars to Indigenous self-determination, climate change, environmental health impact and just clean energy transitions. Serena’s connections to climate advocacy, research, education, and direct action are numerous.

Serena is the Co-Chair of the SevenGen National Indigenous Youth Energy Council, a Subject Matter Expert on Connecting for Climate Change Action, a Youth Action & Environment Fellow with the Lawson Foundation, a Board of Director with Student Energy, and a National Advisory Council member with Indigenous Clean Energy. Serena’s main focus is her role as Just Transition Manager at Sacred Earth Solar, an organization founded on empowering frontline Indigenous communities with solar energy and healing justice. Serena also works with Protect the Tract, a Haudenosaunee-led group in her community, Six Nations, focused on enforcing the traditional governance (the Haudenosaunee Confederacy)’s moratorium on development along the Grand River (Haldimand Tract). Serena is passionate about self-determined community development, action, and futures, and believes in a future with Indigenous youth & elders leading; sovereign, healthy nations; and lands and waters back.