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Decolonizing Planetary Health Through the Lens of Indigenous Youth

November 23 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

This film festival presents seven new planetary health films created by Indigenous youth. The films are being presented as part of a SSHRC-funded partnership between the Bagida’waad Alliance and York University’s Dahdaleh Institute of Global Health Research and Young Lives Research Lab (Faculty of Education).

These films showcase the stories and experiences of Indigenous youth from the Saugeen Ojibway Nation as they work towards social and ecological justice and well-being. The concept of planetary health calls for urgent attention to the human health costs of environmental degradation and invites deeper reflections on the reciprocal relationship between human and environmental well-being. In order for planetary health to be effective, it needs to address the colonialism and coloniality at the heart of global health inequities, environmental degradation, and environmental injustice. The consequences of environmental degradation, dispossession from traditional lands, and disconnection from cultural practices have disproportionately impacted Indigenous youth and their communities, resulting in significant health disparities. 

Indigenous youth across Turtle Island are on the front lines of climate action, land and water protection, and efforts to revitalize Indigenous cultures and ways of being. Collectively, these seven films highlight the experiences of Indigenous youth on the social and ecological destructiveness of colonialism, the healing power of the land and water, and the promise of revitalizing Indigenous ways of being to promote planetary health and well-being for future generations.  

Film Lineup

Bbaamkozhwe Nji Minisinook / Paddling for Our Warriors (3:56) - Waasekom

This film documents Waasekom’s 4th ceremonial canoe journey as part of his Picking Up the Bundles Canoe Journey movement,  a grassroots effort started in 2017. The project uses ceremonial travel by canoe in the traditional way of the Anishinaabek peoples as a mode of experiential inquiry, education and awareness building. This 4th journey took place on the frigid waters of lake Ontario, from the Niagara River to Ward’s Island, Toronto, February 4-12, 2021. The journey was intended to explore impacts of climate change, its links to past and ongoing acts of colonization, and to learn from, and give voice to, the winter forms of nibi (water).  

Adikameg and Ice (4:10) - Christopher Akiwenzie

This film by Christopher Akiwenziedocuments climate change on the waters of Georgian Bay and its impacts on fish populations and the livelihoods of Indigenous fishing families from the Saugeen Ojibway Nation. The film focusses on the impact of warming waters and declining winter ice cover on populations of lake whitefish. The story is told from the perspective of the Akiwenzie family, who closed their sustainable fishing business and started the Bagida’waad Alliance in 2018 to study and promote awareness about the impacts of climate change in the Great Lakes region.  

Name It Don’t Numb It (1:43) - Ruth Duncan

This film by Ruth Duncan highlights the mental health struggles of Indigenous youth and the healing potential of traditional medicines, cultural practices, and connecting to the land. The film was the winner of a Grey-Bruce mental health creative arts award.  

Neo Woodland In Gmaj (4:48) - Neebeesh Elliott / Bawaadan Collective

This film by Neebeesh Elliott presents a semi-autobiographical Anishinaabe journey from the shores of Neyaashiinigmiing on the Saugeen Peninsula to the landscape of Detroit. A synesthetic, post-modern woodland metaphor. A meditation on the urban Indigenous experience, and disconnection from the land.  

Land-Based Learning (4:16) - Aubrey Urbshott, Ruth Duncan 

This film by Aubrey Urbshott and Ruth Duncan documents their participation in a land-based learning program. The film highlights the benefits of land-based learning in promoting the health and well-being of Indigenous youth.  

Indigenous Food Sovereignty (2:47) - Ruth Duncan, Kove Sator 

This film by Ruth Duncan and Kove Sator documents their learning about Indigenous food sovereignty. The film aims to promote awareness of the impacts of colonization on traditional Indigenous food practices and the need for decolonization and the reclaiming of Indigenous foods. 

We Are Still Here (2:13) - Jacob Corston, Ruth Duncan, Aubrey Urbshott 

This film by Jacob Corston, Ruth Duncan, and Aubrey Urbshott highlights efforts by Indigenous youth to embrace their traditional cultural practices and Indigenous identity in order to combat the destructiveness of colonial policies and ongoing forms of discrimination against Indigenous Peoples. This film won an award for the top short youth documentary in Ontario at the Forest City Youth Film Festival in October 2021.  

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