UK News: Nicola Sturgeon joins indigenous American ceremony ahead of COP26

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Nicola Sturgeon went barefoot to join in a ceremony with indigenous Americans who have arrived in Glasgow to take part in the Cop26 climate summit.

The First Minister took part in the ceremonial event with the Minga Indigena delegates at the international arts space Tramway in the Scottish city on Saturday.

She was joined by Panchita Calfin, a traditional healer from Patagonia, Chile, as well as Gloria Ushigua, coordinator of the Sapara women's organisation in Ecuador and Nashieeli Valencia, an indigenous rights defender from the Zapoteca peoples, Mexico.

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The event started with a brief introduction, followed by a gift exchange and a ceremonial welcome.

The First Minister and indigenous leaders then mixed water from Scotland and Patagonia, Chile, together which Ms Sturgeon was given as a token of their meeting.

Speaking about the event Ms Sturgeon said: 'I'm delighted to welcome the Minga Indigena to my home city for Cop26.

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'As representatives of indigenous peoples and the Global South, they have an important message to convey on behalf of those least responsible for the global climate emergency, who are often first and most severely affected by its consequences.

'While Scotland is not at the negotiating table, my pledge is that the Scottish Government will do everything and anything we can to ensure their message is heard as part of a successful Cop26, alongside the doubling of our world-first climate justice fund for the world's poorest and more vulnerable communities.'

The Cop26 demands from Minga Indigena call for the Minga to be recognised as an official representative of Indigenous Peoples by the UNFCCC and that governments across the world promise to leave fossil fuels in the ground.

Speaking about the greet, Calfin Lafkenche said: 'A climate agreement is not possible without the genuine, dedicated, and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples in the negotiations.

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'Especially without being informed nor having consent regarding the vital aspects that concern our lands, territories, and resources which sustain our traditional ways of life.

'We are the bridge between the earth, its rights, and modern societies.'

He claimed 70 per cent of the world's land is held by indigenous and other local communities.

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Mr Lafkenche added: 'It is everyone's task to reach an understanding and move to a new paradigm where all humanity protect nature.

'We need to face the greatest challenge in history together. We are demanding the right to be heard.

'The Cop process does not allow for our people who have been historically marginalised to be fully heard in all the different negotiations. Justice should be a central focus.'

The Tramway will be hosting the Minga Indigena Summit to represent indigenous communities during Cop26 from November 4 to 12.

Minga Indigena is a collective of indigenous peoples from across the continent of the Americas stretching from Alaska to the southern tip of South America.

The event will be followed by the switching on of the No New Worlds artwork, a light instillation measuring 70 metres erected at Govan Graving Docks by a collective of British artists called Still/Moving.

The work of art highlights the links between climate change and historical and ongoing colonisation.

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