C’EST DOMMAGE (Video Response to the Athabaska Oil Sands)

In the summer of 2014, I was in Montreal at the biennial International Eco Health conference. On a night midway through the conference, I was feeling a particularly strange mix of despair and optimism specific to these kinds of events, specifically when issues of expanding oil pipelines are one of the main issues of contention, not just at the conference, but across this great nation of Canada that I call my home. Compelled to communicate these looming feelings my colleagues and myself were finding ourselves more frequently overcome by in our field, I came back to my hotel room, pulled out my iPad and created this video over the subsequent half hour. It is a reflection of what we, practitioners engaged in the field of eco health, often see on the surface when we initially bring our work to the world. In this case, I am specifically responding to the rapid expansion of the resource extraction industry in the Athabaska Oil Sands, but over all, this if a much broader issue. It is only through failure, the realization that “this is a pity” or “C’est Dommage,” as the saying is often heard in French – as it can he heard often on the streets of Montreal where this conference was – that hope can be discovered and that we can save this world. That is of course, only if we can begin to embrace the harshness of our reality, however difficult that may be. After all, as I was particularly aware of at an Eco Health conference, diagnosis is where the work of healing starts.

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