Not content being defined passively as the victims of climate change, rather than proven stewards of environmental conservation, the AFN has centred its work around shifting this conversation to emphasize First Nations as active leaders of ecological action. To demonstrate this, AFN developed a 'First Nations Climate Lens' and used it to support the declaration of a Climate Emergency in 2019.
This led to the AFN's first-ever National Climate Gathering in 2020, assembling almost 400 First Nations knowledge keepers, leaders and experts to come together to share their diverse climate ideas and solutions. The event confirmed that First Nations possess a deep and holistic understanding of the root causes of the climate crisis and how it’s accelerating and exacerbating existing challenges facing First Nations (e.g., forest fires, language loss, food insecurity). The Gathering also exposed that climate change is a people problem rather than a climate problem, and that solutions to the climate crisis must be multi-dimensional, interconnected, and interrelated. Their work continues, including planning for a second Gathering in 2022.