Speaker – Robin Wall Kimmerer
This is one of my favourite videos surrounding environmentalism – it is a video of a speaker at the “Mapping A New Geography of Hope – Woman and the Land” convention. This is because there was a lot of content in this video that I found myself strongly agreeing with, but an equal amount of what the speaker said for me to disagree with as well. The speaker focused much of her speech on the language surrounding how we refer to nature. She challenged the idea of referring to mother Earth as an ‘it’ rather than personifying it. I found this interesting in relation to how corporations are recognized as persons under the law, but nature is not. She explained how Indigenous language does not refer to nature as an ‘it’ but rather refers to nature as family.
Another intriguing point she made was regarding species as teachers rather than creatures. If humans were to recognize nature as a teacher, instead of a problem or a nuisance, would we not have a better planet today? Or is this too much of an idealistic approach? The speaker also touched upon linguistic imperialism, a concept I am immensely fascinated with. This relates back to colonialism and how colonizers stripped the First Nations of all aspects of their culture – dress, tradition, beliefs, and even language! This is another hurdle that the Indigenous still face but is given minimal attention to from outsiders. This can also be broadened to contest the fact that all of our language towards nature and development may need to be revaluated and as the speaker said, language has always been changeable and adaptive.
Another solution the speaker suggested in response to bridging the gap between nature and humans is to think of other creatures as our kin. This was a bit of a radical idea to me, because I cannot see myself thinking of a flock of geese as my family, but I am able to see the wisdom behind this philosophy. Realistically though, I think it would be immensely difficult to implement. In the beginning of her talk, the speaker said, “We are the people of the seventh fire who will reweave the world”. I interpreted this to mean that we are the people who will fix the alarming environmental crisis. I don’t necessarily agree with this, since this era was the reason the problem had escalated so quickly. All in all, this video was quite informative and I think it’s a great foundation to beget a breakthrough of discussion to include language, politics, and globalization in the environmental perspective.
Review by Dania Ahmed