environment and culture activist
Severn has been speaking up for what she believes since she was very young. At age 9, she started the Environmental Children’s Organization, a group of friends committed to learning and teaching other kids about environmental issues. They were successful in fundraising and organizing to attend the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, where 12-year-old Severn delivered a powerful speech that garnered worldwide attention. For this she received the UN Environment Program’s Global 500 Award in Beijing, the following year. This speech is still having an impact today, as citizens worldwide are still watching it on YouTube.
Since then, Severn has continued as an advocate for intergenerational justice, fighting for long term sustainability and for awareness of the fundamental interconnection between culture and environment.
She is proud of her work as an Earth Charter Commissioner (earthcharterinaction.org). In 2000, she and five friends carried out Powershift – a cross-Canada cycling campaign to raise awareness about climate change and air pollution. In 2001, with fellow students at Yale University, she developed‘the Skyfish Project’, a youth thinktank that brought their ‘Recognition of Responsibility’ to the 2002 UN World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, where she was on the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s Special Advisory Panel. The trip was the subject of a documentary film that aired on CBC’s long-running documentary series ‘The Nature of Things’.
Severn Cullis-Suzuki is an activist for diversity in the natural world and in human society. From a young age, she has spoken widely about intergenerational justice, the need for ethics in our economics, and respect and recognition of Indigenous rights and title. Rooted on the west coast of Canada, she is part of the global movement to shift our human path toward sustainability and survival.
Severn lives on Haida Gwaii with her family where they are learning the critically endangered Xaayda kil (Skidegate dialect of the Haida language) from elders. She is currently a Vanier Scholar pursuing a PhD at the University of British Columbia, conducting research on Indigenous language revitalization. She holds a B.Sc. in Biology from Yale University and an M.Sc. in Ethnoecology from the University of Victoria.
Severn hosted Aboriginal Peoples Television Network’s Samaqan: Water Stories and was a founding board member of the Haida Gwaii Higher Education Society. She is a member of the Earth Charter International Council and, after serving on the David Suzuki Foundation board for 13 years, Severn is currently an honorary board member.