CACS Spotlight Speakers Corner

Julie Comber, University of Ottawa


Strong Song: Activism, Inspiration and All My Relations

“The Resistance/ To this Existence/ It’s Beautiful/ It’s Joyful,” is the refrain from Canadian pOILitics, a song I co-wrote. This is a time of upheaval and crisis, as human communities and destinies collide and coalesce. As Educators, Activists, and simply as caring human beings without labels, many of us seek to end suffering and injustice, and to heal our relationships to other humans, to the more-than-human world, and ultimately to ourselves. As the theme of this conference suggests, we need Strong Poets and their creative disruptions now more than ever. Like many others, I have written poems to understand myself, poems to keep myself sane, poems to reach out to others, poems to inspire change. But in 2011, the sacred land on Algonquin territory now called the South March Highlands put music to my words. I became a songwriter. My inspiration tends to come from the more-than-human world, and honours All My Relations. I grew up on the Strong Songs of Phil Ochs, Buffy Saint-Marie, and Stan Rogers, songs that sought to educate and ignite. My own evolving songwriting has moved from shining a light on neglected issues, and striving to motivate people to take action, towards focusing that light on the beautiful future we seek, and inviting listeners to “Be the Love and be the Change”. Inviting them to be their authentic, fully realized, lit up Self. I will follow this songwriting journey/evolution by opening with Hearts in the Snow, then Rupununi Red Road, and close with Light Up Your Life.

Julie Comber seeks to inspire empathy and catalyze action. Her academic, activist, volunteer, travel, and work experience inform her quest for creative and empowering strategies to nurture a warm heart and a sharp mind, in young people and in everyone. She believes human well-being, animal welfare, and environmental integrity are inextricably interconnected. She is a Non-Indigenous Ally in local work for ecojustice and Indigenous rights. Julie is a singer-songwriter, poet, blogger, fire and light spinner (poi), and capoeirista. Her academic background is in Zoology (BSc), Genetics (MSc), Bioethics (MSc), and Animal Welfare (Fellowship). She is currently a PhD Candidate at the University of Ottawa. Her research is on environmental education through Wildlife Clubs in Guyana in collaboration with Makushi Amerindian communities. She studied the North Rupununi Wildlife Clubs (NRWC) program. The goal was to understand the impact that Wildlife Clubs have on Club members and on their wider community. The research will also reflect back to communities their own ideas and aspirations to improve their Clubs through creative dissemination of the research findings via co-created documentaries.

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