Reclaiming the Environmental Narrative (REN) is focused on climate justice storytelling and amplifying Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC)’s voices in the environmental movement.
REN will support 6-12 BIPOC youth (aged 14-24) to each develop a multimedia storytelling project that explores their relationship with nature, the climate crisis, and the environmental challenges that are important to them and their community. By offering participants an environmental action toolkit, mentorship, multimedia storytelling training, and opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, REN aims to:
- Highlight BIPOC narratives in the environmental movement, which has been historically white-centred.
- Improve the mental, emotional, and physical health of participating BIPOC youth.
- Empower participants to develop tangible multimedia skills and confidence as environmental changemakers.
- Develop meaningful connections and relationships with and among participants.
It is important we highlight and acknowledge that REN is only possible thanks to the many BIPOC activists and land defenders who drew attention to the historic whiteness and Western-centrism of the mainstream environmental movement in so-called British Columbia. REN was inspired by One Earth: People of Color Protecting the Planet by Anuradha Rao, a book of twenty short biographies of BIPOC land defenders and activists of all ages from around the globe. This book, which is a great resource for classrooms, highlights the importance of the intersections of race and environment while celebrating the powerful community leaders who have shared their stories. Orca publishers have also created a supplementary classroom guide of teacher resources available for purchase from their website. We also thank our funders, BC Multiculturalism and ValTel/Safeway Community Foundation.
Launch Event Workshop
The first stage of our project was the Launch Event Workshop with our wonderful guest speakers, Janelle Lapointe and Jestinne Punzalan on Monday, August 9th, 2021. This workshop featured an interactive introduction to Climate Justice storytelling by volunteers with UBC’s Youth Climate Ambassador Project.
Meet Our Guest Speakers
Our incredible guest speakers shared their personal stories and experiences in an inspiring kickstart to the Reclaiming Environmental Narrative program. They have kindly offered guiding support for our participants throughout the program. You can get to know more about them below:
"Janelle Lapointe is an Afro-Indigenous climate justice and Indigenous rights activist from Stellat’en First Nation, currently working as the Communications & Engagement Coordinator at the David Suzuki Foundation as a guest on Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) territory. Growing up on a her small reserve, along the Highway of Tears, she witnessed firsthand how extractive industry practices not only degrades our natural environment, but is deeply connected to cultural genocide, and the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. She now advocates for a healthy environment for future generations, ensuring an anti-racist lens and intersectionality is at the forefront of climate conversations. She is proud to have found a voice in the climate movement, and will continue taking and making space for others."
"Jestinne Punzalan (she/her) ( is a Filipinx youth who is a settler on Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) First Nations. She is a Registered Social Worker and graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work degree from the University of Victoria. She is currently employed in the healthcare field. Outside of social work, Jestinne is also involved in many volunteer based projects. She is a co-creator of Shades of Sustainability, a community project that centers BIPOC communities in the environmental movement through storytelling and dialogue. She is a member of Sulong UBC’s education committee and organizes educational sessions. She is also the communications coordinator of Sliced Mango Collective, which brings together Filipinx-Canadian communities to explore their identity and culture."