Planetary Health Film Lab, 2021 – York University

The 2021 Planetary Health Film Lab, focused on four Indigenous youth from the Canadian north portraying environmental issues in their communities with the common theme of water showing up in each film. By gathering still and motion photography and interviews with local elders, residents, researchers, planetary health experts, profiles of Indigenous perspectives, impacts, and solutions to planetary health issues in their communities are examined from different approaches. Click here to View the Four Short Films which run between three and seven minutes in length.

The stories that emerged share a common theme: water. Christopher Akiwenzie’s film, Adikameg and Ice, addresses the decline in fish populations due to warming water temperatures, which is impacting the food supply in his community in Georgian Bay, Ontario. Emily McCallum’s film, Will There Be Another Rainy Day?, examines the impacts of drought experienced in and around Barrie, Ontario. Emily interviews local residents about declining fish populations in local lakes and shows dramatic footage of dried-up vegetation, mills, and rivers. Jessie Yakeleya’s film, In the Future, That’s What’s Going to Happen, I Think, shows both past and present images of the tradition and importance of launching communal canoes in Tulita, NWT, and suggests that climate change may drastically alter this community practice. Serra Black’s film, The Price of Gold, addresses the careless disposal of arsenic into the local drinking water supply and the mighty Mackenzie River in Yellowknife, NWT.

The films were recently screened at COP26 in Glasgow, Nov. 2021. All the films are impactful, but the last film on the linked video, ‘The Price of Gold’ was especially valuable in that it shone a light on the outrageous amounts of arsenic accumulating as a result of the chemicals used to dissolve the stone when mining for gold. Filmmaker, Serra Black, mixes images, footage, and comments to demonstrate the negative effect the arsenic contamination has had on her community near Yellowknife, in the Northwest Territories, Canada and the potential for a disastrous outcome on many levels should the reservoirs holding the chemical waste be compromised. As this same scenario is happening all over the world, Dr. Mark Terry was particularly pleased to use the video as a tool to convey the danger around using chemicals to mine gold with world leaders, delegates, press, etc. at COP26 because it is an area that has not been receiving the attention it demands.

Indigenous Filmmakers participating in the 2021 Planetary Health Film Lab:

Planetary Health Film Lab, 2021

Find these films and more pinned to the UNFCCC’s Youth Climate Report GIS map, a database of more than 600 short films produced by youth around the world to share information with world leaders, policymakers, and all interested in climate and environmental issues. The Planetary Health Film Lab is hosted by the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research located in Toronto, Canada.