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


Mural club adds splash of colour on residence walls

Students leave a mark that will outlast their student careers

Students from the Loyola Residence Mural Club transformed the Hingston Hall HA 3 common room walls with a bright and punchy mural on April 1 and 2.

Last fall, Alisha Hussey, a community facilitator for Loyola residence at Concordia, pitched the idea of starting a mural club to the residence’s events committee. She suggested painting the walls of the Hingston Hall residence to bring people together and help them feel a greater sense of comfort in their new homes.

“I think there’s a lot of truth to the saying that art brings people together,” she said. “I grew up dancing competitively, and although that’s a completely different art form, I’ve always felt that art is such a great way to incite positive vibes and make people feel part of a group or, in this case, the community within res.”

Hussey spent the last academic year as a resident assistant at the Grey Nuns residence, where the walls were decorated with artwork by previous students. She said the murals made the residents feel less isolated from one another.

“There are murals there that were done [back] when I was a first-year student that are still [at Concordia] today,” Hussey said. “I think the murals themselves help to make the residence building feel more like home to the people living inside.”

Hussey said not only did the murals give residents a sense of home and community, but they also gave students the opportunity to leave their mark.

“It’s a legacy that the residents can leave of themselves and of their time here, but also as a sort of ‘welcome home’ message to those who will move in next year, or for past residents who decide to come back and visit.”

Cody Swim-Moser, a first-year student studying biology, took on the role of head of the club and asked resident artists to pitch ideas.

“It was brought up in one of the events committee meetings,” Swim-Moser said. “And because I thoroughly enjoy painting, I decided that I would volunteer to take charge.”

Swim-Moser, who was his high school’s arts representative and was enrolled in International Baccalaureate visual arts, began organizing the mural club in October. The design for the mural was later chosen by the Events committee at the end of February.

“I see it as a fun project, and it’s a nice way to leave your mark on your residence,” said Swim-Moser.

The club was only able to lay the first brush-stroke a semester after requesting permission from Residence Life, the Concordia department which oversees the Loyola and Sir George Williams residence buildings.

The mural was designed by resident artist Barbara Bouquet, who presented two drawings to events committee. The first was a collage of waves, musical instruments and flowers and the second, a branch with yellow coloured flowers.  She decided to merge them together to create the final product.

“I was looking for something pretty personal. Something I would really like to share with everyone,” Bouquet said. “[There was] just a huge mess of everything going on in my mind.”

Bouquet, a Loyola resident studying communications, said she knew what she wanted to paint from the beginning. She wanted to create “something crazy, but also very pretty,” taking inspiration from some of her previous drawings of flowers and stingrays.

She said whales and stingrays are two animals she loves to draw, and from there she added waves, flowers, clouds and other elements to the drawing to create the mural. She spent more than four hours first sketching her design on the wall, and another two hours outlining it with black paint. On March 26, residents began adding colour to the mural by mixing shades of blues and reds with bright pinks and yellows.

“I wanted to do something for my common room because I thought it was very bare,” she said. “I visualized something, and I thought I could do something good.”

“Next year, a new cohort of people will move in here and they’ll see the amazing artwork on the walls. I think from just looking at it, they’ll know what an incredible place this can be and, hopefully, see the potential for the year to come for them,”  Hussey said. “And if that’s not the case, if anything, at least we’ve made one wall a little nicer to look at.”

Student Life

Bilingualism on the rise

Organization Women on the Rise hosted a bazaar which aims to promote bilingualism in children

Women on the Rise held a Christmas bazaar to raise awareness and funds for their children’s programs that promote bilingualism at an early age on Nov. 26.

Women on the Rise was formed in the early 1990s and has since become an organization that empowers single mothers to return to school and the workforce while also preparing their children for early education, said executive director of Women on the Rise, Grace Campbell.

The organization offers several programs, including an early education program for children and a parenting program for mothers. “We see the community for what it is… and we also see the need. We realized we need more,” said Campbell. The money raised at the bazaar will go mainly to the early education program, which promotes bilingualism in children by teaching children to embrace their native language.

“We need the bazaar to really help our programs to improve and recognize that we’re doing more,” said Campbell. In the past, Women on the Rise has organized spaghetti suppers, pancake breakfasts and garage sales, but this was the first time they hosted a bazaar.

Many of the children who benefit from Women on the Rise’s early education program are from newly immigrated families, said Campbell. The children were born in Canada, but their parents are from other countries.

According to Campbell, Women on the Rise is looking to help new immigrant families with children between the ages of zero to five, otherwise known as the “sponge age.” During this time, children absorb a lot of information and the organization is looking to improve their language skills.

“The benefits of bilingualism are linked to children’s immediate personal lives but also linked to schooling, socioemotional development and globalization,” said Fred Genesee, a professor emeritus in McGill’s psychology department.

In Genesee’s article “At-risk Learners and Bilingualism: Is It a Good Idea?” he compares some of the advantages of raising and educating children bilingually. He found that “immigrant adolescents whose ethnic identities integrate and embrace both majority and minority cultures tend: to be more involved with both the majority and minority culture and to show higher levels of psychological and sociological adaptation.”

However, immigrant children who only speak the majority language and have little to no involvement with their ethnic group exhibit lower levels of adaption, according to the same article. This is similarly seen in those who isolate themselves from the majority culture by limiting their relationships to those within their ethnic peer groups.

“If community organizations like Women on the Rise get involved with having parents feel proud of who they are and proud of where they’re from, and have them transcend that to their child, then the child will feel and embrace the fact,” Campbell said. Their child education program is looking to not only teach language and culture, but also to teach children embrace and be proud of it.

These ideas have already been implemented into their programs. Mothers were asked to bring in books in their native language and read, not only to their sons and daughters, but all the children involved in the program. While some parents were surprised by the task, Women on the Rise wants to ensure that parents understand the importance of having pride in their culture and sharing that with their children.

These programs don’t stop with children—training will also be made available to teachers. Instead of prohibiting children from speaking in their own language, Women on the Rise hopes more teachers will ask the question, “What does that mean?”

“This will build a very good foundation for the child and by doing that it will give them confidence. Once they feel confident in who they are, it will help with their learnings,” said Campbell.

Women on the Rise was created at a time when many black women were having children at a young age and living on their own, said Campbell. “The social workers were out there, the nurses were out there but it seemed like [the mothers] were in isolation,” said Campbell.

Soon enough a small group was formed where women could socialize and learn more about each other. As it started to grow, it became an organization known as Black Women on the Rise. According to Campbell, although it was called “Black Women on the Rise,” it was not about race, but rather, on immigrant women living in isolation, and helping them become empowered and integrate into society.

In 2003, the organization dropped “Black” from their name to clarify they were seeking to give all women an opportunity to be a part of Women on the Rise, said Campbell. What began as a small program for young immigrant mothers has since developed into a non-profit offering physical, emotional and educational development programs and services.

For more information on Women on Rise and their fundraising events, visit their website.

Exit mobile version