Eriel Deranger

Indigenous Rights and Climate Justice Leader

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Unit One/Allen Hall Guest-in-Residence: September 30 through October 4

Eriel Deranger is a Denè Indigenous rights advocate, activist and member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) of Northern Alberta, Canada, downstream of Alberta’s Tar Sands. Deranger is the Executive Director of Indigenous Climate Action (ICA), Canada’s only Indigenous-led climate justice organization. Deranger has held positions with the Rainforest Action Network, Sierra Club Canada, Taking It Global, the United Nations Indigenous Youth Caucus, and various youth projects. She is featured in ELEMENTAL, the award-winning documentary film about three ecojustice activists (including Rajendra Singh of India and Jay Harman of Australia). 

All events are free and open to the public. They take place at Allen Hall, 1005 W. Gregory Drive, Urbana. Free parking is available in the parking garage across the street.

Sunday, September 30 

7 p.m. Stories from the Struggle for Indigenous Rights and Climate Justice (South Rec Room)

Eriel will share stories from her personal history on the frontlines of the struggle for indigenous rights and climate justice. From her early beginnings she was surrounded by Indigenous activism. Both her parents were active members of the American Indian Movement and instilled traditional Indigenous values and spirituality as the foundation of their work. This foundation paved the way for her to become a champion of indigenous rights and climate justice and to found the organization Indigenous Climate Action. 

Monday, October 1

7 p.m. – The Environmental Justice Movement: From the Roots to the Fruit (South Rec Room)
What is environmental justice? Who are some of the leading voices in the environmental justice movement? We will look at how environmentalism was originally rooted in systems of white supremacy and ideologies of man’s dominion over nature, and how current environmental movements are shifting towards systems of human justice in relation to nature.

9 p.m. – Tea Time: Meet Eriel Deranger (Guest Apartment)
Drop in and chat with Eriel and have tea and snacks.


Tuesday, October 2

7 p.m. – ELEMENTAL film screening (56 min) featuring Eriel Deranger with discussion (South Rec Room)
Elemental delivers a powerful and unusually intimate portrait of modern environmental activism through the story of three eco-warriors united by their commitment to confront some of the most pressing ecological challenges of our time. The film follows Eriel Deranger, a Northern Alberta-based Canadian indigenous activist opposing the Tar Sands and a proposed 2,000 mile Keystone XL Pipeline, that would travel from Northern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. In India, water conservationist Rajendra Singh goes on a 40-day pilgrimage down India's once pristine Ganges, now alarmingly polluted. Facing community opposition, Singh works to shut down factories, halt construction of dams, and rouse local populations to treat sacred "Mother Ganga" with respect. In Australia, inventor and entrepreneur Jay Harman struggles to find parties willing to invest millions on revolutionary turbine devices that he believes can slow global warming. Elemental offers an insightful and moving account of individuals overcoming overwhelming challenges.


Wednesday, October 3

7 p.m. – The Sacred Role of Indigenous Women in the Preservation of Mother Earth: Reconciling our Relationships to Each Other and the Land (South Rec Room) 

Many Indigenous peoples don’t see the planet or the environment as something to be saved, but rather as an intrinsic part of themselves and their cultural and spiritual identity. This deep reverence for Mother Earth provides a different perspective for how we can address the climate crisis and a feminist lens that calls for a rebalancing of the masculine and the feminine. We will explore Indigenous cosmology and ideology and its relation to the rise of Indigenous women who are leading Indigenous climate movements around the world.

9 p.m. – Tea Time: Meet Eriel Deranger (Guest Apartment)
Drop in and chat with Eriel and have tea and snacks.


Thursday, October 4

7 p.m. – The Strength of Intersectional Movements and What it Means to be an Ally (South Rec Room)

How do we change systems that have contributed to the current climate disaster, such as colonialism, capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy? What does it mean to be an ally and to show up for each other? How can we build intersectional movements that will ensure that future generations not only have a livable planet but a just world?