“A Forest Called Amazon”: The Last-Warning Campaign

“A Forest Called Amazon”: The Last-Warning Campaign

Brazilian Indigenous peoples’ lives are on the line to defend our chance to have a future. They need our help now; we need to wake up. It is time to take a last stand for Indigenous rights, for the Amazon, for the climate, and for the planet.

Cover of the booklet "A Forest Called Amazon"
View/Download the PDF of the children’s book titled “A Forest Called Amazon”

There is a tragedy happening in Brazil and it affects all of us. We need you to listen.

Politicians in Brazil are voting to remove laws that protect the Amazon and many other ecologically sensitive areas, opening these protected lands to mining, logging, and farming exploitation.

Since most of these areas are held by Indigenous peoples, the government is doing this by voting to take away their land titles and to cancel Indigenous rights. Indigenous peoples are the forests’ last line of defence—if they lose their rights to the land and to consultation, we all lose this battle, and we all lose the Amazon.

More deforestation will push the Amazon beyond a tipping point, after which it can turn from a rainforest into a savannah. It will turn from a vital carbon sink that helps us slow down climate change to a dangerous carbon source that will accelerate climate change. This is why it affects all of us—and yet “[d]eforestation has surged since right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro took office in 2019.”[1]

If Brazilian politicians make this happen, we will see more forest fires, more floods, more droughts, more species going extinct, more unpredictable weather, more extreme temperatures, more food and water shortages, more inequalities, more polarization, more violent conflict, more people displaced by climate change—everywhere.

If the Brazilian government changes these laws we will see yet again the genocide of Indigenous peoples. We have been here before. It’s time to draw the line.

The math is simple: If Indigenous peoples lose their rights, we lose the planet.

Indigenous peoples are only 4% of the world’s population, but they protect 80% of the world’s biodiversity. 

The fight against the climate crisis—the fight against our own extinction—depends on the survival of the lands for which Indigenous people are responsible, so the rights of Indigenous peoples need to be front and center in this fight. Without their land titles, without their rights, they cannot defend the land.

An Indigenous man from Brazil in traditional dress holds his hand up to the camera.

If Brazil cancels the rights of Indigenous peoples it sets an extremely dangerous precedent.

The math is simple: If Indigenous peoples lose their rights, we lose the planet. If the Amazon forest disappears, it will lead to a rapid warming of the climate and biodiversity loss. This is the urgency of the situation.

Brazilian Indigenous peoples have their lives on the line to defend our chance to have a future. They need our help now. We need to wake up. It is time to make a last stand for Indigenous rights, for the Amazon, for the climate and for the planet.

Digitized portrait of Chief Ninawa

I address you today as part of my own family. Our family is expecting a child to arrive right around the time of the Supreme Court Ruling. It is only by realizing we are a larger family of human and non-human beings that we stand a chance of securing a future for those who will come after us. Imagine an unborn great-grandchild or other relative looking at you from the future and asking: if you knew what was happening, what did you do? We need to act as if all unborn great-grandchildren of all species are already here, asking us to act with maturity, discernment and responsibility, because, in fact, they are already here. They are already part of us and we are accountable to all of them. Our decisions need to take account of how we will impact those who will be alive seven generations from now.

We have created a book (suitable for children of all ages) called “A Forest Called Amazon” which tells the story of the Amazon forest from an Indigenous perspective, where humans are a manifestation of the forest itself. The text presents the destruction of the Amazon forest as something that is driven by four “attackers”: greed, arrogance, vanity, and selfishness. It intends to warn children about the dangers of reproducing these patterns and of the importance of our responsibility towards each other, the forest and the planet. As an exercise in global citizenship education, the text invites children to engage in teeny-tiny protests (with a cut-out of me), and mini-protests (with their families). Check out the last page of the book for more ideas of how kids can get involved, and please share the book widely with your communities.

If you are an individual, a family, a professional group, a union, a company, or an organization, the Last Warning Campaign website offers ideas of what you can do.

We are asking everyone to stage small protests to be shared on social media until August 20th. From the 20th to 25th—the date on which the Supreme Federal Court landmark case will be decided—we ask everyone to organize larger protests.

If our efforts fail, we will need to assist Indigenous communities that will be at great risk of expulsion from their lands, state-sanctioned brutal violence, and, frankly, of being killed. 

At that stage, our last option will be an international boycott of Brazilian products, which would hurt the Brazilian economy that is already precarious. We do not want to do that, because a boycott can hurt the wrong people. But that will be our last resort.

This is a call for help from Indigenous peoples in the Amazon: a call for us to wake up to what we have done to the planet, to other species, and to each other. They are asking us to learn to work together, with maturity, discernment and responsibility.

It may be our last chance, humanity’s last chance, to grow up and show up differently, before we lose our future, before we lose the Amazon, before we lose our chance of survival on this planet. Add your voice.

[1] Thomson Reuters, “Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest rises for 4th straight month”, July 9, 2021. Accessed July 22, 2021 at https://www.cbc.ca/news/science/deforestation-brazil-amazon-rainforest-rises-1.6096178

Signup for the ArtsEverywhere newsletter

icon-angle icon-bars icon-times