“Art and the Intersection of Climate Change and Social Justice” was designed to give students a voice about these topics through any kind of art medium, with an exhibit and write-ups of their work at the local art gallery, The Grove in Port Alberni.

The exhibit shows us the thoughts and feelings of Grade 8-11 students around concurrent global crises in a profoundly powerful way. Some of their words include: “My piece reflects the damage that humans have brought upon, not just birds, but all wildlife due to plastic pollution. Without a way to properly dispose of plastics, and the continual creation of them, this problem will cease to be resolved anytime soon.”

Another moving piece, a diorama, is about missing and murdered Indigenous women, entitled, “They’re Still Not Coming Home.” One is a magnificent rendering of someone experiencing gender dysphoria, urging us to address the profound pain experienced due to our society’s stigma around being different. About victims of abuse, one student stated: “I want every human, that can start with you, to be kind and caring to your partner, friend, family member, even just a stranger you walk by…” 

Another urges us to take care of the earth as we do our own body and soul. The advertising poster for this exhibit was also rendered by one of the students, entitled “Stop and Think,” which those who visit the exhibit are definitely doing.

While the mood of the exhibit is sad, there is joy to be found in that these students have finally been able to voice their thoughts, fears, and concerns. Will we listen? What if the next project could be a province-wide student art exhibit on all the great initiatives accomplished, bridging between Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures and other cultures while addressing climate change, inequity, gender stigma, and mental health stigma?

The exhibit is on until June 21, 2024, if you’d like to pay our town of Port Alberni, and our gallery, The Grove, a visit. Take your time, read the writeups, and learn about the beauty of these students.


Oh boy, it was a major challenge to try to open up the topic of climate change in the school. This was solved by persistence and being open-minded regarding compromise.  After meeting with the teacher and local community arts center administrator, setting up an exhibit date and parameters, and building trust, the project was in the hands of an amazing, sensitive, and passionate teacher.

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