Kotlik: Background Report

Kotlik, an Alaska Native community in southwestern Alaska, works in partnership with AIJ to monitor the erosion and other weather events that present an increasingly severe risk to the community as the climate changes. The homes and infrastructure in Kotlik are located along the banks of the Kotlik River near the southern coast of Norton Sound. In 2009, the United States Army Corps of Engineers identified Kotlik as a “priority action” community in the agency’s Baseline Erosion Assessment. In the past ten years, approximately 20 feet of river bank have been lost to erosion and flooding. Numerous homes and buildings are imminently threatened by erosion. The community is working with AIJ and a number of other state and federal agencies to relocate homes, protect people and infrastructure, and adapt to the intensifying local effects of climate change. This report, produced by AIJ in collaboration with residents of Kotlik, documents studies of the hazards threatening Kotlik, the effects of erosion on the community, mitigation efforts, and steps the community has taken to relocate threatened homes. The goal of the report is to assist the community in its efforts to obtain technical assistance and funding to relocate homes to safer ground.

Click here to read the report.

Seeking volunteer attorneys and interpreters

Alaska Institute for Justice seeks volunteer attorneys and interpreters for:

From A to B: Alaskans to the Border
Dilley Detention Center – Dilley, Texas
June 9-14, 2019

Work with asylum seekers being held in U.S. custody and learn of the many legal and practical challenges they face. Orientation and training will be offered.


For more information, or to volunteer, please contact: contactaij@akijp.org

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AIJ also seeks volunteer attorneys for the Pro Bono Asylum Project

An ongoing effort to provide legal representation to asylum seekers in Alaska. No prior asylum experience necessary. Training and ongoing mentoring provided.

For more information, or to volunteer, please contact: dan.rodgers@akijp.org

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Volunteer service to either project applies towards the 50-hour aspirational goal for pro bono service established under the Alaska Rules of Professional Conduct.

No time to volunteer? Donations are much-needed and gratefully accepted!

Thank You!

First Peoples’ and Indigenous Peoples’ Convening

In October, over 60 representatives of Indigenous and First Peoples communities from around the Pacific met in Girdwood, Alaska to share their experiences and knowledge about the ways the climate crisis is threatening their communities. The representatives adopted the following Declaration affirming their rights and calling upon leaders to support their efforts to adapt to the dramatic changes they are facing as a result of the climate crisis:


To watch the UUSC First Peoples Convening click on the following link:


One Story: A Report of the First Peoples Convening on Climate-Forced Displacement. Click the link to open the PDF Report https://www.uusc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/UUSC_Report_ALASKA_web.pdf

Language Access Plan

The purpose of the Language Access Plan (LAP) is to provide guidance to AIJ staff to ensure equal access to the services provided by the Alaska Institute for Justice for LEP individuals and individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. AIJ provides language access for LEP individuals and individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing because AIJ’s mission is to protect and promote the human rights of all Alaskans. AIJ’s Language Access Plan is a critical component of this mission and ensures that all Alaskans have access to the services provided by AIJ. AIJ also receives federal funding and must ensure compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin. National origin discrimination includes not providing services to LEP people.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d, provides specifically that no person shall “on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Non-compliance with Title VI can jeopardize a program’s federal funding. Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) rather than Title VI of the Civil Rights Act

Download the 2019 AIJ Language Access Plan

International Climate Justice Convening to Address Displacement of Indigenous Communities


Three-day conference will see more than 60 community leaders and advocates come together to develop a plan to address climate injustice facing Indigenous communities

GIRDWOOD, AK—More than 60 community leaders and advocates from across the world will gather in Girdwood, Alaska for a three-day conference to discuss the devastating impacts of climate change and agree upon a shared advocacy platform to address climate-forced displacement.

“The Convening brings together some of the first communities, who have done the least to contribute to our climate crisis and are losing the place they call home because of our collective failure to reduce greenhouse gases,” said Robin Bronen, executive director of the Alaska Institute for Justice, one of 13 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) attending the First People’s Convening on Climate-Forced Displacement from October 2-4 in Girdwood. “The Convening offers a tremendous opportunity for them to share their wisdom, strength, and courage and develop principles to guide our response for the millions who will be faced with this same existential threat.”

The Alaska contingent will represent 16 Alaska Native tribes. Others include civil society and community representatives from Bangladesh, several Pacific Island countries, and the states of Louisiana and Washington. Convening participants—most, if not all, of whom have experienced the impacts of climate change—will share experiences, build relationships, and develop strategies, including a shared declaration of principles that will guide future advocacy work. Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons for the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, is tentatively scheduled to participate in a special Skype session with attendees to discuss the impacts of climate-forced displacement.

Fenton Lutunatabua, Pacific regional coordinator for 350.org, a grassroots environmental advocacy organization in the Pacific Islands, will attend the convening with a contingent of seven Pacific island countries. He said that convenings like this are a prime opportunity to build a strong coalition to attack a global problem.

“Climate change really knows no bounds,” he said. “It continues to be a crisis that threatens the survival of Pacific Islands and the rest of the world. It’s important for everyone to get involved and see themselves as part of the solution. Gatherings like this, that bring together community leaders from around the world, not only reflect the diversity of this movement of people working towards solutions, but the true power of people coming together.”

“We have learned that by 2050, climate change will force the displacement of up to 200 million people. Two hundred million people,” said Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) CEO and President Mary Katherine Morn. “Our hope in joining together with partners for this convening is to build relationships, identify common needs and goals, and provide a sacred and shared space where people who are most impacted by climate change will have the agency to determine their futures.”

Climate change impacts fall into two broad categories: rapid events (tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods) and slow-onset events (melting permafrost, erosion, and rising sea levels).
Since 2008, more than 25 million people have been displaced annually due to rapid climate change events; data on slow-onset events are much harder to quantify.

Compounding the climate change threat is the lack of funding and governance frameworks to address relocation efforts or the costs associated with the loss and damage communities experience. An equally important concern is the marginalization of the voices of the communities most impacted, the majority of whom are Indigenous peoples.

To learn more about climate change, climate-forced displacement, and the convening, visit http://www.uusc.org/climateconvening

Throughout the world, UUSC and our partners advance human rights, dismantle systems of oppression, and uplift the inherent worth and dignity of all people through grassroots partnerships, leadership education, and advocacy.

Medical Interpreters in Outpatient Practice

Language Interpreter Center Program Director, Barb Jacobs, co-authored an article recently published in the Annals of Family Medicine. This article provides an overview of the federal requirements related to providing interpreter services for non-English-speaking patients in outpatient practice. Antidiscrimination provisions in federal law require health programs and clinicians receiving federal financial assistance to take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to individuals with limited English proficiency who are eligible for or likely to be encountered in their health programs or activities.

To learn more, click here: http://www.annfammed.org/content/16/1/70.full#aff-1