Regards Croisés: Discussing climate crisis through Indigenous art

The House of Sustainable Development presented Regards Croisés sur la Crise Climatique et les Droits Humains to discuss the climate crisis and human rights through arts and science, alongside Équiterre and Amnesty International Canada Francophone on Nov. 28.

The event was meant to highlight the current climate crisis and its effects on basic human rights, according to Courtney Mullins, Équiterre’s senior communications officer. It focused on Indigenous communities, with the goal of exploring how to work together to cope with climate change.

Mullins explained that vulnerable populations, who are the least responsible for the climate crisis, are usually the most affected. She stressed the importance of creating links between the climate crisis and human rights, as they have the same root problem.

“We really wanted to bring forward that the climate crisis is not just from a scientific perspective but from a cultural perspective as well,” said Mullins.

The event began with a performance by Émilie Monnet, Dayna Danger and Nahka Bertrand, three members of Odaya, a music group composed of Indigenous women formed in 2007. They opened with the song “Seven Grandfathers,” which is performed using vocables, words composed of various sounds or letters without referential meaning, accompanied by traditional drums.

The song describes how many Indigenous people think seven generations ahead and three generations behind, Bertrand explained. “So we situate ourselves in the middle. It’s the thinking forward tool for future generations, to the faces that are coming and their wellbeing.”

Bertrand, who joined Odaya in 2011, talked about the importance of using science to start a dialogue, but also the value of using arts and Indigenous culture to create emotional connections to environmental issues.

The event also presented Hivunikhavut – Notre Futur, a short film by Marianne Falardeau-Côté about her work in Nunavut that bridges local and scientific knowledge in the Kitikmeot Region. The film told the story of a two-day workshop that took place in Nunavut in March of 2018. The workshop combined art, science and storytelling as a means of discussing possible future changes to the region. Participants from Kitikmeot were asked to contribute to scenario building, or creating “plausible stories about the future” on marine development, governance and climate change.

Art has actually been shown as a great way to bring together knowledge systems and bridge different ways of knowing,” said Falardeau-Côté in an interview with The Concordian. “When art is involved it gets more to the emotions and we put away our boundaries and just go into it.”

She explained that it’s important to bring art into these conversations and that, in her experience, people react more to art. “There was something about the paintings that words would never be able to describe,” she said Falardeau-Côté.


Graphic by @sundaeghost

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