Environmental activism, Northern-style
Iqaluit elders and youth share in international awareness tour
by Emily Ridlington Northern News Services Nunavut
Many students said they’d never seen anything like it before. Not many folks in Nunavut are willing to sport a gold jumpsuit and gold boots complete with headdress and sing in front of an entire school to a mix of techno and futuristic-sounding music combined with musical theatre, all in the name of environmental activism. This is exactly what students experienced at Iqaluit’s Inuksuk High School at the end of last month. “I thought it was cool and unique,” said Grade 11 student Emily Kenneally. She was in the audience when Toronto-based singer-songwriter and yoga practitioner Parvati, along with a couple of other guests, came to perform at the school and raise awareness about how important it is to protect the environment.
Students clapped and danced along as Parvati sang some of her original songs including You’ve Gotta Believe, a tune about how the world is interconnected. She had just come from Resolute. Accompanied by her husband, Rishi Gerald, and environmental activist Satish Sikha, the trio unveiled to the students part of a one-kilometre-long piece of handwoven silk, on which Sikha has been gathering positive environmental messages from all over the world for the last two years. He said dignitaries and people from all walks of life have contributed, including Iqaluit city councillor Simon Nattaq, who wrote a message in Inuktitut. Gerald said while in Iqaluit, the trio also made a presentation to the community’s elders. He said the elders told him they have hope for the future of the environment because children are much more educated and that there are things such as recycling. While the format of the presentation may have been something students did not expect, the message certainly hit home. “The message I think is very important, it is to be true to yourself and be true to the Earth,” said Grade 11 student Christine Tootoo. She said she tries to make an effort at home and at school to recycle and shut off the lights every time she leaves the room. She does not litter and she said she tries her best to tell others as well. Listening to Tootoo, Grade 9 student Simonie Alainga said he should try harder at protecting the environment and Parvati’s presentation made him think about the future and what the Arctic will look like as it is being affected by global warming. For Kenneally, the future is now. “Look at what is going on at the dump, it’s doing a lot of damage to the environment,” she said.
Photo Caption: Singer-songwriter Parvati, far right, visited students at Iqaluit’s Inuksuk High School at the end of last month to sing and share her thoughts about how important it is to protect the environment. Curious to see if her make-up and outfit were environmentally friendly are from left, students Amy Kalluk, Darlene Arlooloo and Grace Ittusardjuat.