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Pacific students express climate change future through art

A student climate change group recently held an art competition for children and youth based on what sort of future they will live in as the world counts the cost of climate change.

The art competition was held by the Pacific Island Students Fighting Climate Change (P.I.S.F.C.C.) with the President Sulia Makasini saying it was an opportunity to empower Pacific children and youth to take meaningful action on climate change.

"COVID-19 did hamper our efforts nevertheless, in spite of the hiatus on climate action, climate change continues to take place at an unprecedented scale and therefore we must continue to ensure climate action is high on the agenda," she said in an interview with the Samoa Observer.

"We want to create an opportunity that draws out the voice of children and youth to express for themselves the future that they imagine to live in, a future where their rights but also taking into social distancing practices. 

“We have decided that a virtual art competition is one of the best ways to achieve this and thus have initiated the Reimagining Pacific Futures art competition.

"Art was and will always be a powerful tool for social activism. It is through art where we can highlight the unique Pacific creativity, issues, experiences and voices. 

“The combination of youth climate activism and art is indeed a dynamic union that is highly strategic to Pacific climate advocacy and narrative. We believe it can influence social changes."

According to Ms Makasini, 32 people participated in the Reimagining Pacific Futures competition and most were women.

She said that to keep the awards fair and transparent, they used independent judges to assess each artwork and she gave thanks to the judges for their compassion and willingness to assist in the amplification of Pacific youth voices.

The judges were Robert Au Nama [Artist Association of Solomon Islands President], Guillaume Soulard [Tjibaou Cultural Centre Director] and Dr. Frances C. Koya-Vaka’uta [Director for Oceania Center for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies - The University of the South Pacific].

The launching of the R.P.F (Reimagining Pacific Futures) was held on 30 April 2020 and ended 17 July 2020. The event was opened to young people from the ages of 5-29 of the 18 member countries of the Pacific Island Forum. 

There are two categories in the event: art [painting, drawing, placard, literary] and digital [audio and film]. 

“We also created separate awards for children and youth," Ms. Makasini added.

She explained that in the children category the judges’ highest collective marking was towards a young Samoan by the name of Helava Muliaina. 

"In our interpretation, her poem ‘Just because’ speaks true to her Pacific voice of the reality of how undervalued a Pacific woman living and fighting at the front lines of the climate crisis is. We are indeed very touched by her poem and we believe her poem will continue to influence within and beyond our region," she said.

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