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UPDATE: Council to screen ‘Inuit Knowledge’ film on Parliament Hill, Nov. 24

The Council of Canadians and partners will be screening the new film ‘Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change’ on Parliament Hill on Wednesday November 24, the eve of the next round of climate negotiations which begin just five days later in Cancun. We are also planning to show the film in Cancun during these talks.

The Globe and Mail recently reported this film is a “groundbreaking new documentary…by acclaimed Nunavut filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk (The Fast Runner, The Journals of Knud Rasmussen) and environmental scientist Ian Mauro.”

Watch a 56-second excerpt from the film :

The newspaper adds that, “The documentary…is the first to ask Inuit elders to describe the severe environmental changes in the Arctic they are seeing and to do so in their own language. The tone of the film is intimate. The elders aren’t trying to cross a language barrier, or even speak to the Southern scientific community. They’re simply imparting their expert knowledge and wisdom – and the result will undoubtedly cause controversy.” Among the changes experienced, “is the fact that the sun now appears to set many kilometres off its usual point on the horizon, and the stars are no longer where they should be.” Also, “The elders describe in precise detail how seal, for instance, a staple in their diet, are behaving troublingly due to the thinning ice, how warmer winds are changing the snow and ice banks, making overland navigation difficult, and how major floods are hitting communities.”

Kunuk wrote in the Ottawa Citizen this week that, “Thirty years ago, as scientists began to notice a warming planet, no one bothered to ask Inuit elders and hunters what they knew about their Arctic homeland from observing the weather every minute of every day. Now through our skills as digital filmmakers — using 2.0 interactive Internet — the whole world has a chance to join Inuit in dealing fairly with our common problems. Like The Fast Runner and 30 other films we’ve made since 1988, Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change allows Inuit to speak for themselves in their own language: how the wind has changed direction, how wildlife biologists endanger polar bears more than hunters, how permafrost, sea ice and glaciers are degrading across the Arctic at an astonishing rate.”

Kunuk adds, “Inuit approach climate change not only as a crisis, but as an opportunity to adapt, to find new techniques for living sustainably within the natural world. One after another, elders in our film tell us that hope lies in our capacity to be intelligent, resilient and well adapted to our environment. Having survived and thrived through past climate changes, and the daily challenge of depending on weather and animals, Inuit experience tells us that the only constant is change itself, and adaptation is the key to a successful human future. To Inuit, climate change is a human rights issue — how people adapt to change and still respect the rights of others.”

The Toronto Star reported on July 24, 2008 that, “the United States Geological Survey estimated the (Arctic region) has 90 billion barrels of ‘technically recoverable’ oil and 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. …Much of the energy reserves lie in waters where sovereignty is disputed among Canada, Russia, the United States, Norway and Denmark.” That article noted, “Andrea Harden-Donahue, energy campaigner for the Council of Canadians in Ottawa, emphasized the need for a social and environment impact assessment before ‘rushing into an energy gold rush’. Harden-Donahue said private industry is eager to exploit the fragile area, a developmental process being sped up by global warming.”

In early 2010, the Canwest News Service has reported that Canada, Russia, the United States, Norway and Denmark “are positioning themselves to claim new undersea territory along the continental shelves and to exploit the potential oil riches, trade routes and tourism opportunities that an unlocked North could represent.” On March 25, the Council of Canadians, the Indigenous Environmental Network and the REDOIL Network issued an open letter to the foreign ministers of these countries just prior to their Arctic Summit in Chelsea, Quebec. That letter urged them to pursue a moratorium on all new exploration for fossil fuel resources in the Arctic region.

We will continue to campaign vigorously on this and intend to be at the Arctic Council ministerial meeting when these issues are discussed in Nuuk, Greenland on May 12, 2011. To read about our Arctic campaign, please go to http://canadians.org/arctic.

The Globe and Mail article is at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/movies/new-documentary-recounts-bizarre-climate-changes-seen-by-inuit-elders/article1763952/. The Ottawa Citizen article http://www.ottawacitizen.com/entertainment/movie-guide/Listen+elders/3780659/story.html. The 56-second excerpt from the film shown above is found at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/movies/inuit-knowledge-and-climate-change-the-official-trailer/article1763965/?from=1763952.