Indigenous solidarity and environmentalism at Brock: The Beehive Design Collective

Activism assumes different forms, tackles many issues, and has an impact on countless lives. From protests, to music, from anonymous hacktivists to whistleblowers, the history of activism is long but is never irrelevant.

The Beehive Design Collective is a group of artists, educators and activists (often all three) who work on large-scale, anti-copyright and collaborative pieces of visual artwork that aim to educate and promote activism movements across the globe.

Members of the Collective tour and give workshops explaining the symbolism, stories, and metaphors behind the images to give a holistic view of issues and their histories. The Brock Indigenous Solidarity Coalition invited the collective to do one of these workshops on March 10 in Sankey Chamber lead by Saku and Darius Bee.

Saku is an educator and researcher for the Collective, turning art pieces into workshops to train and educate others. The piece that the event focused on was “The True Cost of Coal” which deals with mountaintop removal coal mining and the history of coal mining in Appalachia according to Saku.

“On a broader level, it’s the story of how as a society, we came to this paradigm of extreme extraction, of this idea that we should be extracting resources as quickly and as cheaply as possible, of course with great consequence to both the environment and people’s lives,” Saku explained.

The piece is the result of six weeks of touring around Appalachia and learning the stories of the people there and how they have been affected by or involved in mountaintop removal mining. It tells the history of colonization and industrialization in the region and depicts a bright, sustainable future that looks a lot like pre-colonization and pre-industrialization.

Darius is a hip-hop musician with the political group, Test Their Logik, and he intermixes Saku’s presentation with spoken word pieces and songs, adding another level of artistic communication to the workshop.

“Our presentation talks about a lot of the problems, but also talks a lot about solutions, about the possibility of living in different ways, more sustainably, about how people have fought back through the years: people’s resistance, and people’s histories that aren’t very well known, or aren’t really taught in most educational institutions and are glossed over in most history books” he said.

One of the organizers of the event, from the Indigenous Solidarity Coalition, Klaire Gain wanted specifically to bring this event to the University.

“I think that we’re trying every day to indigenize the campus more and more, so having an Indigenous Solidarity Coalition event here, with folks who are talking about issues of indigenous rights and resistance is really important and we’re trying to get students more engaged in the social justice community, so the more that we can do things like this at Brock, the better.”

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