The Impact of Climate Change on Indigenous Women Around the World

Maine Law’s 2021 Justice For Women Lecture to focus on “The Impact of Climate Change on Indigenous Women Around the World”

View the digital program to find information on the lineup for the Lecture, biographies
on the amazing panelists and Courage is Contagious Award recipients, and more. A video recording of this event is available on Maine Law’s YouTube Channel.

The University of Maine School of Law’s 2021 Justice For Women Lecture will bring together an amazing lineup of activists from around the world for an engaging discussion on the impact of climate change on indigenous women. The tenth annual event is scheduled to take place virtually on April 15, 2021 from 12:00 – 1:30 pm EDT.

The Lecture will kick off with a special message from recently confirmed Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and a reading by Joan Naviyuk Kane, Inupiaq writer, Harvard, Scripps, and Tufts faculty. The panel discussion will be moderated by Joaqlin Estus, national correspondent for the Alaska bureau of Indian Country Today. Featured panelists include:

  • Galina Angarova – Executive Director at Cultural Survival
  • Quannah ChasingHorse – Land Protector and Climate Activist
  • Sherri Mitchell – Lawyer, Author, and Indigenous Rights Activist
  • Sara Olsvig – Ph.D. Fellow and Former MP of Greenland

2020 and 2021 Courage is Contagious Awards

As part of 2021 Justice For Women Lecture, Maine Law is honored to recognize Blanca Santiago and Donna Loring as the 2020 and 2021 recipients, respectively, of the Courage is Contagious Award.

Blanca Santiago (2020 Recipient)

Blanca SantiagoBlanca Santiago is a licensed clinical social worker who has spent three decades developing visibility, safe spaces, and resources for BIPOC, LGBTQIA individuals and others experiencing the effects of structural and societal oppression. After retiring last year, Blanca contracted with Portland Public Schools to help address issues of diversity and equity in the district. She supports a new generation of BIPOC social workers and is a consultant to Presente via Mano en Mano; in that capacity Blanca supports the behavioral health staff that serve Latinx and immigrant communities. She serves on the board of ILAP and the Foundation for Portland Public Schools. She is the founding member and president of El Centro Latino of Maine and has worked on three immigration reform campaigns over the last 15 years. Blanca holds an undergraduate degree in Organizational Leadership and a Master of Social Work.

Donna Loring (2021 Recipient)

Donna LoringDonna M. Loring is an elder and former council member of the Penobscot Indian Nation. She entered into public service when she joined the Women’s Army Corp. She served in Vietnam as a Communication Specialist, processing all the casualty reports for South East Asia. She was one of few enlisted women in the Vietnam War who served in a combat zone.

For over a decade, Donna was the Nation’s Representative to the Maine State Legislature. She was appointed Aide de Camp to former Gov. Angus King and also served as the Senior Advisor of Tribal Affairs to Gov. Janet Mills.

Donna hosts “Wabanaki Windows” on WERU Community Radio. The University of New England houses her papers and sponsors an annual lecture series in her name. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Humane Letters by the University of Maine, and the Alumni Career Award from the University of Maine Alumni Association.


The 2021 Justice For Women Lecture is free and open to the public, but you must register to attend. Registrants will receive a personalized zoom link to access the event.

Justice For Women Lecture Series

The JFW Lecture Series, presented by the University of Maine School of Law, brings speakers to Maine each year to discuss their work and strategies to promote justice for women and girls. Maine Law established the series in 2011 with leadership and support from attorney and civic leader Catherine Lee of Lee International.

The Justice For Women Lecture Fund, an endowed fund, was created with the goal of sustaining the JFW Lecture Series in perpetuity. Supporters can make a gift to the lecture series using our online form.

Speaker Bios

Joaqlin EstusJoaqlin Estus is a national correspondent for the Alaska bureau of Indian Country Today. She covers everything from climate change, COVID-19, and resource development to the lack of broadband in Indian Country and homelessness. Joaqlin has been a reporter for several radio stations in Alaska as well at Minnesota Public Radio, and also served as director of public communications for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.
Joan Naviyuk KaneJoan Naviyuk Kane is an Inupiaq author of several collections of poetry and prose. She teaches creative writing at Harvard University, is a lecturer in the Department of Studies in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora at Tufts University. She was a founding faculty member of the graduate creative writing program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is a 2020-2021 Visiting Fellow of Race and Ethnicity at The Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown University, and is the 2021 Mary Routt Endowed Chair of Creative Writing and Journalism at Scripps College. Joan has worked extensively with tribes, Native corporations, non-profits, foundations, and governmental and inter-governmental clients throughout the circumpolar north.
Galina AngarovaGalina Angarova is a representative of the Ekhirit nation of the Buryat Peoples, a Russian Indigenous group. Galina is currently serving as the executive director of Cultural Survival, an Indigenous-led NGO and U.S. registered non-profit advocating for the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Previously, Galina worked as program officer at the Swift Foundation, as representative of the Indigenous Peoples’ Major Group at the UN, and was the Russia program director at Pacific Environment, where she organized direct actions against large resource extraction projects in Siberia and the Russian Far East.
Quannah ChasingHorseQuannah ChasingHorse, is from the Han Gwich’in and Oglala Lakota tribes and lives in Fairbanks, Alaska.  She is an Indigenous land protector for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, protecting those sacred lands from oil development and fighting for climate justice. Quannah’s deep connection to the lands and her people’s way of life guides and informs everything she does and stands for. Quannah was honored to make the 2020 list of Teen Vogue’s “Top 21 under 21.”
Sherri MitchellSherri Mitchell -Weh’na Ha’mu Kwasset was born and raised on the Penobscot Indian reservation. She received her J.D. and a certificate in Indigenous People’s Law and Policy from the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law. Sherri is the founding director of the Land Peace Foundation, an organization dedicated to the global protection of Indigenous rights and the preservation of the Indigenous way of life, and currently serves as an advisor to the Indigenous Elders and Medicine People’s Council of North and South America. Sherri received the Mahoney Dunn International Human Rights and Humanitarian Award, for research into Human Rights violations against Indigenous Peoples and is the author of the award- winning book Sacred Instructions; Indigenous Wisdom for Living Spirit-Based Change.
Sara OlsvigSara Olsvig is a Ph.D. Fellow at Ilisimatusarfik, the University of Greenland. She is the current chairwoman of Greenland’s Human Rights Council and an assigned member of the Constitutional Commission of Greenland. Sara previously served as a member of the Parliament of Denmark and the Parliament of Greenland, has been leader of the political party Inuit Ataqatigiit, and formerly worked as executive director for the Inuit Circumpolar Council Greenland, of which she is now a delegate to the Council. She is Inuk and lives in Nuuk with her partner and their children.