UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Visual Storytelling, Intergenerational Environmental Justice and Indigenous Sovereignty: Exploring Images and Stories amid a Contested Oil Pipeline Project Spiegel, Samuel J.; Thomas, Sarah; O’Neill, Kevin; Brondgeest, Cassandra; Thomas, Jen; Beltran, Jiovanni; Hunt, Terena; Yassi, Annalee

Abstract

Visual practices of representing fossil fuel projects are entangled in diverse values and relations that often go underexplored. In Canada, visual media campaigns to aggressively push forward the fossil fuel industry not only relegate to obscurity indigenous values but mask evidence on health impacts as well as the aspirations of those most affected, including indigenous communities whose food sovereignty and stewardship relationship to the land continues to be affronted by oil pipeline expansion. The Tsleil-Waututh Nation, based at the terminal of the Trans Mountain Pipeline in Canada, has been at the forefront of struggles against the pipeline expansion. Contributing to geographical, environmental studies, and public health research grappling with the performativity of images, this article explores stories conveying health, environmental, and intergenerational justice concerns on indigenous territory. Adapting photovoice techniques, elders and youth illustrated how the environment has changed over time; impacts on sovereignty—both food sovereignty and more broadly; concepts of health, well-being and deep cultural connection with water; and visions for future relationships. We explore the importance of an intergenerational lens of connectedness to nature and sustainability, discussing visual storytelling not just as visual counter-narrative (to neocolonial extractivism) but also as an invitation into fundamentally different ways of seeing and interacting.

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CC BY 4.0

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