“The Earth does not belong to us: we belong to the Earth.” The sudden arrival of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Canada has forced us all to reflect upon our values, our priorities, our economy, and our Earth. Many individuals, communities and businesses have suffered amidst this uncertainty, and yet – some are finding intrinsic resilience despite adversity. Despite what is happening locally we simply cannot and should not forget about a crisis that has existed for countless decades prior to the pandemic – the Climate Crisis and its global impacts.

The Carbon Free Club at York University, in partnership with York University and local Toronto artists, The Fame, Black Paint, Critical, The Jailbirds, and Terina Faye, facilitated an event called Artist for the Amazon on Dec 11th, 2020. This digital, socially distanced event focused on promoting art and sustainability in order to raise funds for Indigenous solidarity and climate solutions in Ecuador. The aim was to bring light to social, political and environmental issues that Indigenous communities and associations face today. The 2-hour event also featured Climate Expert and Arts Help Advisor Dr. José Etcheverry, the CEO of the Economic Club of Canada Rhiannon Rosalind, the Global Institute for Conscious Economics President Dr. Jeffrey Overall, and Arts Help’s very own Chief Visionary Officer, Sophie Brussaux.

Dr. José Etcheverry has worked in a variety of international research and policy analyst roles with the David Suzuki Foundation, the Global Environment Facility, the World Council of Renewable Energy, and the Electricity Research Institute of Mexico. His current focus is working as a professor with York University’s Faculty of Urban and Environmental Change, and implementing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals at York University. Etcheverry is also a co-chair of the Sustainable Energy Initiative and the director of the International Renewable Energy Academy. He serves as a Senator and Governor at York University, and devotes his life to finding solutions for the contemporary climate crisis.

Sophie Brussaux’s mission is to use art as a vehicle for social change. Her knowledge and craft have been refined through her international travels, her professional and academic experiences, and her own artmaking. The culmination of her passion, past experiences, and years of artistic practice have guided her towards the unique path and legacy she leaves on the world today. Brussaux currently holds the position of Chief Visionary Officer of Arts Help and her primary focus is on how art can contribute to reducing inequalities, with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as guiding principles.

Rhiannon Rosalind is a serial entrepreneur, economic activist, and social innovator. She is also the CEO of the Economic Club of Canada, and continues to blaze an inspiring path for conscious economists globally. Rhiannon was inducted into the Most Powerful Women in Business Hall of Fame and is the youngest woman in Canadian history to have received the title to date. Through some of her other initiatives, The Jr. Economic Club of Canada and The Global Institute for Conscious Economics, she intends to align leaders in business with the benefits of mindfulness, prosperity, reconciliation, and equality.

All donations received from the Artists for the Amazon event were sent to the Ceibo Alliance. The Ceibo Alliance (Ceibo) is an indigenous-led Ecuadorian not-for-profit organization composed of members from the Kofan, Siona, Secoya and Waorani peoples, who, in partnership with Amazon Frontlines, are creating a model of Indigenous resistance and international solidarity. They are rooted in the defense of Indigenous territory, cultural survival, and the building of viable solutions-based alternatives to rainforest destruction.

The intention and hope for this event were to revive both art and sustainability digitally and globally—especially given the climate crisis, pandemic, and the current loss of iconic music venues around the world. The Carbon Free Club collaborated with knowledgeable guest speakers, talented local artists, and garnered support from Waveland for our goal and mission: solving the climate crisis. We aspire and devote ourselves to collectively co-creating a prosperous future for the countless generations which are yet to come, and to ignite a reminder for the hope, passion, inspiration, and compassion that lives in us all.

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