Statement on Climate X Consent

To Our UBC Community,

January brings us a New Year, a new term, and another Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). All of us at the Sexual Violence Prevention & Response Office (SVPRO) have agreed that one month is not enough, so it is our intention to make January a kick off month, for an entire calendar year of exploring the theme: Climate X Consent.

Bringing climate justice and consent culture work together allows us to embrace the interconnectedness of our movements and create solidarity. We can center consent at the heart of our relationships with each other and the Earth. Neither the Earth, nor its inhabitants can thrive in a toxic environment!

Decolonization and Consent

Human actions of colonization brought resource extraction and unsustainable practices, resulting in the decimation of our environment. The Earth has told us clearly that our human actions toward it are not consensual, as illustrated by catastrophic climate events such as hurricanes, tsunamis, atmospheric rivers, forest fires, and drought. Colonization continues to be a process of violence against land, against nations, against peoples, against bodies. Processes like colonization contribute to the widespread belief that it is normal and acceptable to disregard the autonomy and self-determination of others, whether entire communities, individuals or the very land we inhabit.

For decades now, viable solutions have been clearly articulated by Indigenous communities and scientists, but politicians, policy makers and corporate executives have denied science for the sake of their own political and economic gain. We ignored and delayed necessary (and feasible!) changes at the expense of equity-deserving groups who have been marginalized by centuries of patriarchal dominance and the assertion of imperialist assimilation. Our lives and wellbeing were deemed “an acceptable risk.” The individuals holding power have made decisions, aware they have longer to enact solutions because they can afford to avoid places of catastrophe.

As the wealth gap continues to escalate, the amount of environmental harm people are made to endure is inversely proportional to the amount of capital they have. Canada, as with many other Western countries, has seen distribution of capital dictated by colonization, white supremacy, and misogyny. Stolen land that white settlers took without consent and declared their own has been passed down as inherited wealth to mostly white, male children for centuries. The legacy continues and even as this changes for some (typically for those with more privilege), for everyone else, the gap widens

Building communities of care

A consent culture involves communities who care about one another enough to be invested in consent and wellbeing in all interactions. That care we offer one another is the antidote to rape culture and the care we offer the Earth is a part of the solution to climate change. We look to the Earth to sustain us with food, water, and natural resources for shelter. We look to the Earth to heal us when we are physically or emotionally unwell. Colonialism and capitalism tell us that this relationship is non-reciprocal, that is, that the Earth and its resources are there for our unfettered use.

We seek to change this in our campus community and in all our communities around the globe. We firmly believe that in demonstrating care for our environment we are simultaneously challenging and replacing rape culture with positive, sustainable alternatives. We hope you will join us as we explore new and old ways of caring for the Earth as the Earth and all its natural resources and beauty have cared for us.

Knowing that you love the earth changes you, activates you to defend and protect and celebrate. But when you feel that the earth loves you in return, that feeling transforms the relationship from a one-way street into a sacred bond.

Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

In Solidarity,

The SVPRO Team

Alicia, Althea, Ari, Ariana, Dawn, Habi, Ogake, Sasha