Past Events

Healing the Dis-ease of Separation

October 20, 2023

Chief Ninawa Huni Kui launched the international digital campus of the University of the Forest at this virtual event. The University of the Forest (physical campus) is a gathering place in the Amazon where the Huni Kui Indigenous People of Acre come together for the intergenerational transmission of the wisdom that binds them inseparably to the Amazon biome. It is this profound connection that gives the Huni Kui the courage to place their lives at risk in safeguarding the rainforest and its delicate ecosystem.

The University of the Forest (international digital campus – is a collaborative initiative between the Huni Kui, the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures Arts/Research Collective and the T5C network. It began as an experiment seeking to highlight how our modern imagination colonizes the ways we imagine the decolonization of universities.

The digital campus is an educational and artistic intervention aimed to inspire institutions to take a much bolder approach in climate education, recognizing the importance of the relational sciences and technologies developed by Indigenous Peoples across millenia.

Challenging False Solutions and Centering Indigenous Responses to the Climate Crisis

October 20, 2023

Indigenous Peoples have long identified colonialism, capitalism, and the commodification of nature as the central drivers of climate change. However, mainstream technocratic climate solutions fail to address these systemic root causes, often resulting in projects that violate Indigenous sovereignty and exacerbate ecological injustices. Against these false solutions, Indigenous communities around the world are leading their own climate responses and ‘just transitions’, grounded in their connections to territory, ancestral knowledges, and responsibilities to current and future generations. This panel, convened by Indigenous youth leader Mateus Tremembé, brings together Indigenous scholars who are challenging climate colonialism and catalyzing Indigenous-led responses to the climate crisis.

Speakers: Mateus Tremembé, Tabitha Robin, Pasang Yangjee Sherpa, Charlotte Coté. This event was co-sponsored by the Department of Educational Studies, the Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies, and the Centre for Climate Justice. It is part of a three-part seminar series organized by Mateus Tremembé focused on Indigenous Just Transitions, with other events happening at Trent University and the University of International Integration of Afro-Brazilian Lusofonia (UNILAB) in Brazil.

Neocolonialism in the Green Transition: The Tremembé Indigenous Peoples’ Struggle Against Offshore Wind Farms

June 30, 2023

As the world seeks sustainable solutions to climate change, the green transition has gained significant momentum. However, it is crucial to critically examine the potential neocolonial implications of these efforts, particularly regarding Indigenous communities. In this presentation, Mateus Tremembé shed light on the ongoing struggle of the Tremembé Indigenous People in northeastern Brazil against the establishment of offshore wind farms in their ancestral territories. He positioned the wind farms as a continuation of colonial practices that threaten Tremembé autonomy, self-determination, and cultural integrity, and called on policymakers, researchers, and activists to ensure that environmental justice and the rights and aspirations of Indigenous Peoples are at the forefront of green transitions.

Moving with Storms (not your typical) Report E-Launch

June 30, 2023

Throughout the past academic year, the CNE Catalyst Program, an initiative of the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of British Columbia, has fostered inter- and trans-disciplinary collaborations to address the urgent and complex challenges posed by the climate and biodiversity crises, as well as movements for climate justice. By bringing together scholars, students, artists, disciplines, sectors, and communities, the program has sought to activate new ways of knowing and acting together in these challenging socio-ecological times. The program’s report, “Moving With Storms,” serves as a testament to the power of reimagining and repurposing academic spaces to confront the multifaceted challenges of our era. With a particular emphasis on institutional cultural change, engagement with Indigenous analyses, and the principles of redistribution, reparations, and restitution, this report is a tangible tool that can be utilized by other institutions seeking to create meaningful change. It showcases what is possible within academic settings, pushing the boundaries of what we once believed to be unimaginable in academic environments.

Neocolonialism in the Green Transition: Carbon Trading in the Amazon and Lithium Wars in Peru

June 27, 2023

In this presentation, Chief Ninawa Huni Kui, the hereditary Chief and president of the Huni Kui Indigenous People Association of Acre in the Brazilian Amazon, Indigenous rights advocate, Shyrlene Monerat Huni Kui, and Maria Jara Querar, a Quechua matriarch from the Valle Sagrado of Peru, delved into the manipulation of carbon markets in Brazil and the uprisings in Peru caused by the privatization of lithium mining, illustrating how governments in the global south employ these tactics to further dispossess and assimilate Indigenous Peoples. By examining the cases of Brazil and Peru, the panelists uncovered ways in which these governments weaponize policies against Indigenous rights to meet the demands for a green transition generated by the global north. The discussion explored how the green transition becomes a smokescreen for neocolonialism, perpetuating the marginalization and dispossession of Indigenous communities.

May 23, 2023

Universities are often understood to have a unique role in catalyzing climate action in society. But there is more than one way they can do this. On the one hand, universities must create space for conversations that welcome many different visions about their role in enabling possible futures in the face of the climate and nature emergency. On the other hand, the visions for the future that tend to take up the most space in these conversations are the ones that would sustain the status quo – visions that have been characterized as “business as usual, but greener.” If universities continue to sideline more critical and decolonial perspectives on the climate and nature emergency, climate action risks reproducing simplistic solutions, enacting unequal and paternalistic relationships with systemically marginalized communities, and educating people into the same Eurocentric imaginary of human progress and development that created today’s ecological crises in the first place. This talk asks we might reorient university climate action toward climate justice, emphasizing the challenges of this work, and offering a few examples of efforts in higher education to coordinate justice-oriented responses to today’s complex socio-ecological challenges.

From Universities to the UN: Navigating Colonial Institutions at the End of the World as We Know It

April 11, 2023

In the face of intensifying social and ecological crises, this conference asks how we might navigate colonial institutions – from universities to the UN – in ways that question their presumed benevolence and continuity while also mobilizing their resources to reduce harm and support the creation and revitalization of other possibilities for collective existence. Can we find space in the cracks of these institutions to, in the words of conference co-organizer Pasang Yangjee Sherpa, find new ways of living together in the midst of dying?

Panelists: Dr. Bernard Perley, Chief Ninawa Huni Kui, Dr. Pasang Dolma Sherpa, Dr. Vanessa Andreotti, and Dr. Pasang Yangjee Sherpa (chair)

COP27 Debrief – Beyond Doomism and Solutionism in Response to Climate Change

December 9, 2022

Based on the University Affairs OpED with the same title, this panel presents the experiences of Indigenous and racialized UBC delegates at COP27 and problematizes the approaches of climate doomism and climate solutionism in responses to the climate and nature emergency (CNE), focusing on how both approaches discourage engagement with the complexities of the CNE.

Panelists:  Dr. Vanessa Andreotti, Dr. Pasang Yangjee Sherpa, Dr. Shannon Waters, Dr. Sharon Stein (chair) and student coordinator Charlotte Taylor.

You can read the introduction to the panel (which unfortunately was not recorded) here.

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