Photo courtesy Christi Belcourt

Métis visual artist Christi Belcourt visits Ryerson for Social Justice Week

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By Caroline Biedka

Standing in front of her biggest audience yet, Christi Belcourt announced that she wants to do things differently. She motioned to turn off the lights and told us to forget all categories, labels and just be human beings.

On Oct. 23, the Ted Rogers lecture theatre transformed into the sacred land that it is. “Indigenous Art, Culture and Resistance: An Evening with Christi Belcourt” was the first event of Ryerson’s social justice week. 

Belcourt is a Métis visual artist and an author currently living and working in Canada and she advocates for First Nations issues through her art. She also advocates for environmentalists who spend their lives attempting to improve the environment and corporate workers who contribute to the issues environmentalists are working to improve.

Issues of deforestation, pipelines and oil spills were brought up and backed with plenty of photos and facts. Staggering statistics left many of the audience members shocked: 50 per cent of our forests are cut down and 5,175 of total oil spills “occurred in the past 30 years.” 

During her discussion, Belcourt said that our biggest threat to humankind is nuclear energy. She added that radiation is simply disposed into our water supplies, and yet it’s considered to be our cleanest non-renewable energy.

On the screen, images of 12 year-old Autumn Pelletier appeared, who is from a reserve near Manitoulin called Wikwemikong and advocates for clean drinking water especially in Indigenous communities.

Throughout her speech, Belcourt reaffirmed the idea of like-minded people creating change, especially in future generations using Pelletier as an example she said that “we need to get the next generation to understand.”

Belcourt ended her speech with a powerful chant and told the audience to repeat after her. 

“I was chosen. I was born at this time, when the earth needs me the most. I am here. Thank you mother earth. I am not alone. Power to the babies.”

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