Justin Langan feels the pull of advocacy and storytelling.
The UM political studies student, who has a diploma in film studies, travelled Manitoba’s Parkland region talking to Elders for an interview series exploring issues important to them, including climate change.
“I always asked the same questions: What have you noticed? What does it mean to you?” He’d then ask young people for their perspective, hoping the recordings will bridge the gap that keeps Elders and youth from connecting with one another.
Langan, who is Métis and from Swan River, interviewed more than a dozen Elders about their personal experiences. It’s an opportunity he says he missed out on within his own family, having lost his grandmother when he was nine years old.
He questions why rural, Indigenous communities are so often ignored in the climate change conversation, given their profound connection with the land they call home.
“They notice the small differences, whether they’re hunting, trapping, commercial fishing. They see the water rising from different levels, species leaving and coming in. They see when berries get bigger, when they’re smaller,” says Langan. “Of course Indigenous people will have a better understanding of how the Earth is changing. They’ve been warning about it but no one was listening.”
One Elder in Duck Bay told Langan about the depletion of not only the medicinal plants growing in the region but the bonding that happens when they’re picked together.
“These communities have been dying because they’re losing these communal experiences. They’re losing the kinship with one another,” says Langan.
His series is set to broadcast in 2022.