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FORT NELSON, B.C. — After attending COP27 last month, a Fort Nelson First Nation member called it an “emotional rollercoaster.”

BC Assembly of First Nations youth representative Taylor Behn-Tsakoza was chosen to attend the conference as the national Assembly of First Nations youth representative.

Because of her position, she got to speak with Indigenous communities worldwide, including those in the Pacific.

“People in the Pacific are experiencing their islands disappearing at rapid rates,” Behn-Tsakoza explained.

She said a big part of the conference was about the damage and how, internationally, they will support the countries whose islands are going to be underwater.

On the other hand, she said the recent wildfires, flooding and droughts in B.C. being brought up during the conference was empowering.

“I’m really excited now to continue climate change work, both hopefully here in our province and nationally with the [Assembly of First Nations],” Behn-Tsakoza said.

Held in Egypt, COP27 was the 27th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Behn-Tsakoza said she was drawn to apply for the BC First Nation youth representative position because of the environment she grew up in. Both her mom and her grandfather were chiefs of Fort Nelson First Nation, and her grandfather was grand chief of the Treaty 8 Tribal Association of Fort St. John.

“I grew up around this environment of recognizing the importance of having First Nations voices at the table,” Behn-Tsakoza said.

After graduating with her health and physical education degree in April 2020, she saw a social media post about the position and decided to apply.

“I approached my chief councillor, Sharleen Gale, expressing interest, ‘I would really like to do this. Can you support me in this?'” Behn-Tsakoza said.

Gale supported her, and Behn-Tsakoza attended the BC Assembly of First Nations’ annual general meeting in the fall of 2020 and was chosen out of five other women.

When she originally put her name in, she wasn’t sure what the position entailed, other than knowing that the Assembly of First Nation as a whole is an advocacy body.

“I couldn’t even tell you what a day in the life looks like because it varies,” she said.

“But basically, I get to attend a lot of meetings, both internally with the BC Assembly of First Nations, the National Assembly of First Nations in Ottawa and then with a lot of different partners, governments.”

Behn-Tsakoza says her favourite part about the position is engaging with youth across the province.

“We have the National Youth Council as the Assembly of First Nations, so I also get to engage with other youth representatives from across the country,” Behn-Tsakoza explained.

“It’s a lot of talking, listening and providing my input when the opportunity arises.”

Behn-Tsakoza was also a part of the delegation that met with Pope Francis at the Vatican earlier this year.

The full interview can be viewed below:

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Shailynn Foster

Shailynn Foster is a news reporter for Shailynn has been writing since she was 7 years old, but only recently started her journey as a journalist. Shailynn was born and raised in Fort St. John and she watches way too much YouTube, Netflix and Disney+ during the week while playing DND on the weekends.