Severn Cullis-Suzuki brought her presentation Energy for Change to Edmonton on January 29, 2014. Through a lunchtime session at Edmonton City Hall and a featured evening event at the University of Alberta, Severn's message of hope directly reached over 400 engaged participants.
This event was part of International Week 2014 and is brought to you by the University of Alberta's Office of Sustainability, University of Alberta International's Global Education Program and the City of Edmonton's The Way We Green Speaker Series.
Energy for Change
Our human energy for change can overcome colossal barriers. We live at a time when weather is increasingly dominating the news. Scientists tell us we cannot continue our current fossil fuel dependence safely, yet governments struggle to find and take a better energy path. There is reason for optimism, however: the transformation to a more sustainable life is occurring all over the world. Cities, communities and individuals are beginning to transition away from an outdated, destructive paradigm, one step at a time.
About the speaker
The daughter of David Suzuki, Severn Cullis-Suzuki has been speaking up for what she believes since she was small. At age 9, she started the Environmental Children’s Organization, a group of friends committed to learning and teaching other kids about environmental issues. They were successful in attending the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, where 12-year-old Severn delivered a powerful speech that garnered worldwide attention. For this she received the UN Environment Program’s Global 500 Award, and her speech is still having an impact today, as citizens worldwide watch it on YouTube.
Raising voices for sustainability
In the two decades since Rio, Severn has advocated for intergenerational justice, fought for long term sustainability and for awareness of the fundamental interconnection between culture and environment. In 2000, she and five friends carried out Powershift—a cross-Canada cycling campaign to raise awareness about climate change and air pollution. At the 2002 UN World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, she sat on Secretary General Kofi Annan’s Special Advisory Panel.
She received her B.Sc. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Yale University, and her M.Sc. in Ethnoecology from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, where she studied with Kwakwaka'wakw elders on the Pacific Northwest coast. She is one of the authors and editors of the book Notes from Canada's Young Activists.
The road ahead
Severn lives on the Pacific West Coast archipelago of Haida Gwaii in Skidegate with her husband and little boy. She is studying the Haida language and hopes her pursuit of traditional and scientific knowledge and dedication to using her voice will help her promote a culture of diversity, sustainability and joy. She currently hosts the APTN television series Samaqan - Water Stories about First Nations and water issues, now in its third season.