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NYC Climate Week 2023
September 2023

Defending Home


We are facing mining. It’s existed in my home territory for over 20 years. But in the pandemic, more and more companies from the outside, from China, from Canada, but also just Ecuador itself, local governments, those who are supposed to be our leaders are mining an Indigenous territory and destroying our home. Our bodies. They are in our islands, which for us is not just where we grow our food, but it’s where our ancestors are buried. It’s where our grandparents are. So when they extract, literally when they dig in these islands, they’re also digging up the graves. And for us, like I said, my body is not just body, it’s those of my ancestors. So it’s a deep pain when I see it happen. But I think there is a deep joy as well to be able to now, with my cousins, be able to really speak up and of generations of generations of cries for justice, you know, using multiple languages, different ways of sharing stories like, you know, cameras to really change our future.

Eli shares the devastating impact of mining on her community as mining companies from Canada, China and Ecuador encroach on Indigenous Lands. Not only is this endangering the environment but it is also desecrating the resting places of their forebears in which they have been buried. Despite these challenges, Eli shares a glimmer of hope. Eli alongside her relatives have used the power of storytelling to bring attention to these issues and call for justice, which showed to be successful in the victory over the yasuni vote.

Eli Virkina
Visual Impact Storyteller, Environmental Educator, And Community Organizer
A Napu Kichwa visual impact storyteller, environmental educator, and community organizer from the Napo River in the Ecuadorian Amazon. She is greatly inspired by the land and people who shaped her and strongly advocates for Indigenous land rights and environmental and climate justice. As the President of the Iyarina Center, she works alongside her family […]
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