Citizens as Climate Leaders: A film screening and panel with David Suzuki

Panel featuring Eriel Deranger, Ian Mauro, and David Suzuki - April 2014

On Earth Day 2014 a crowd of over 400 people attended a panel on “Citizens as Climate Leaders” featuring David Suzuki, filmmaker Ian Mauro, and Eriel Deranger of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. The event also included the Alberta premiere of Ian Mauro’s short film, Climate Change in Atlantic Canada. The film features the testimony of local residents about the changing conditions and increasing severity of climate change related weather phenomena in Atlantic Canada.

All three panelist discussed the kinds of leadership needed to address climate change, and how citizens can be supported in stepping up to this leadership. In his opening remarks, David Kahane profiled the work of the Citizens’ Panel on Edmonton’s Energy and Climate Challenges, and Suzuki urged that we “protect future generations by taking back democracy”.

Suzuki and Deranger both talked about the pitfalls of treating land as an economic opportunity without developing an understanding and attachment to that land. Kahane quoted Wendell Berry to the effect that we need to connect our actions with the past that created our situation and the future generations that will inherit it: in Berry’s words, we need to “stop somewhere and begin the 1000 year long process of getting to know that place.” Deranger encouraged the climate leaders in attendance “to give a voice to all of those people who are experiencing climate change impacts”

Suzuki reminded participants that the economy is a human creation and not a force of nature; where it isn’t supporting our flourishing we need to work to change it. And all panelists emphasized the need for citizens to learn about climate change through civic involvement. In Kahane’s words, “the challenge with climate change is not communication but collaboration. We must work together.” Suzuki elaborated, saying “you can achieve anything you want, as long as you don’t care who gets credit. Be part of the movement.”

David Suzuki, the other panelist and the audience members were pumped about the film premiere and especially the panel. The event was hosted The Alberta Climate Dialogue, the University of Alberta Office of Sustainability, the City of Edmonton, and the Alberta Public Interest Research Group. A particular thanks to ABCD employee Angelica Quesada for her great organizing work.