Canadian journalists Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis travelled the world filming This Changes Everything, the film adaptation of Klein’s book of the same name. They visited the site of one of hundreds of coal power plants proposed for India, met with anti-austerity protesters in Greece, and captured a solar-power boom in China.
But when the Straight asked Lewis for his favourite example of a hero in the fight against climate change, he suggested someone closer to home.
“Crystal Lameman,” Lewis declared in a phone interview. “She is just one of this generation of kickass young indigenous leaders.”
The film follows the member of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation as she contributes to a unique fight against the Alberta tarsands: a legal challenge arguing that developments, measured cumulatively, constitute an infringement on First Nations people’s constitutional guarantee to a traditional lifestyle.
“She is on the front lines of the fossil-fuel frenzy,” Lewis said.
In her narration of the film, Klein explains how those boundaries are shifting.
“I remembered a phrase debated by the U.S. government in the 1970s,” she says. “It was suggested that some places may have to be ‘sacrifice areas’. If we’re going to keep digging up fossil fuels, those places will just be destroyed.
“What they didn’t say is that the people who live on those lands get sacrificed too,” Klein continues. “But a strange thing happened as the fossil fuel economy spread over the world. The sacrifice zone got bigger and bigger. It started with the places considered the middle of nowhere. And then one day, I watched it come to the place that sees itself as the centre of everywhere.”
From there, the film presents the damage Hurricane Sandy inflicted on New York City in October 2012. That superstorm, the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, laid bare the threat that climate change poses, Klein warns.
This Changes Everything—screening at the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts on October 7—stands out among climate-change documentaries for its optimism. Whether that tone is justified in the face of an apocalypse governments are doing little about is best addressed not by Klein but by Lameman.
“You have to keep going,” she says in the film. “No matter what.”