Chantal Bilodeau's Feminist Movement

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In his essay “Feminist Theory and the Environmental Movement,” Robert Verchick argues that the environmental justice movement is, if unintentionally, a feminist movement. This is exemplified by the Veronica in Chantal Bilodeau’s Sila. Veronica is a woman of color who participates in the environmental justice movement using art as her primary form of activism. While her activism may not have explicitly feminist aims; however, her actions can be understood as forms of feminist action as defined by Verchick, because her motivations are community- and family- oriented. Historically, women have played a crucial role in the environmental justice movement. In his essay, Verchick explains that many United States environmental justice organizations…show more content…
Veronica is a member of the indigenous Inuit population of the Canadian Arctic. Her native community faces a host of environmental threats that Veronica feels are not adequately addressed by outside scientists who have been doing research in the area, since the scientists do not engage with members of the community. Veronica turns to art, in the form of her slam poetry, in order to take action against these outsiders and against the environmental hazards that are prevalent in her community. Her use of both English and Inuit language in her poetry demonstrates the community- oriented motivations of her artistic activism. In many instances throughout the play, author Bilodeau emphasizes the significance of the Inuktitut language in the Inuit culture. One member of the native community, Tulugaq, explains that “In ancient tradition, [Inuit] people believed words were very powerful… When we speak something, that something is given substance. It comes into being… Words are how an individual will take shape” (Bilodeau 71). To the Inuit population, their language is essential to their culture. As such, Veronica’s frequent use of Inuktitut words in her poems highlights the motivations of her activism: to take a stand for the health, safety, and longevity her community. For example, in her poem “Eskimo Chick,” Veronica utilizes Inuktitut language and Inuk cultural…show more content…
For example, the play ends with Veronica’s performance of a moving poem which has a particular focus on the struggles of the native community, environmental and otherwise. In this poem, she says that humans “can take much” from the Earth and still demand “Lord give us more / Lord give us more / Lord give us more” (Bilodeau 103). Here, she accuses humans of being selfish in their rapid consumption of Earth’s resources and constant demands for more. She implies that resources are limited and levels of human consumption are too high. As such, she implores the audience that they need to “cherish [their] fast done days,” since “no no no [they] can’t stay / [they] can’t stay” in their location if the environmental issues continue to worsen (Bilodeau 105). She implies that community members should take a stand; She suggests “maybe [they] rage maybe [they] fight” by “politicking day and night” in order to attempt to “out wrong for right” (Bilodeau 104). Her poem, and thus the play, concludes with this call to action for community members to take part in environmental justice activism. This poem serves as an example of Veronica using her art as activism, and emphasizes that her motivations for doing so are highly focused on the welfare of her
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