'Deeply connected': Labrador researchers, leaders among global voices in climate change documentary

Oct 7th, 2020

By Jeff Green

The Magnitude of All Things crew spent time filming in Labrador.

'Deeply connected': Labrador researchers, leaders among global voices in climate change documentary

Research rooted in Labrador focused on climate change and mental health is featured in a new highly-anticipated Canadian documentary.

Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo, interim dean, School of Arctic and Sub-Arctic Studies at the Labrador Institute, is part of an international cast of researchers, activists and Elders featured in The Magnitude of All Things.

The documentary is the latest offering from award-winning director Jennifer Abbott. It premieres at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival, which runs until Oct. 9.

The film is described as: “A cinematic exploration of the emotional and psychological dimensions of climate change.”

“I was immediately struck by Jenn’s approach for this film, exploring the connections between the loss of her sister and environmental loss; it had so much deep beauty and profound pain all at once, and I knew she would create something truly special,” Dr. Cunsolo explained during an interview with the Gazette.

Labrador filming

In March 2019 Ms. Abbott and her crew travelled to Labrador for a week, first filming Dr. Cunsolo in her home in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and at her cabin in “-35 degree blowing, yet magical, weather,” before visiting Rigolet to film in the community.

Three Elders from that community – Sarah Baikie, Derrick Pottle and Marjorie Flowers – are featured in the documentary.

“This is a global journey exploring the emotional and psychological dimensions of the climate crisis.”— Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo

“Derrick, Sarah and Marjorie are key leaders on environmental issues in their community, working tirelessly as advocates and researchers to share what is happening in their homelands from climate change, and to generously and courageously share their pain, their grief, their strength and their wisdom,” Dr. Cunsolo noted.

“Each were also integral to the crew’s time in understanding Nunatsiavut, Inuit culture and history, connections to land and community, and the particular ways in which climate change manifests in Labrador.”

In an interview with CBC Radio’s Labrador Morning, Ms. Baikie says talking about the documentary is “very emotional,” and that she hopes people will see how climate change is affecting her community’s way of life.

Listen to Labrador Morning interviews with Ms. Baikie and Mr. Pottle here.

‘Global journey’

Dr. Cunsolo says that while the documentary highlights her team’s ongoing research on climate change, mental health and ecological grief in the North, it also features stories from Indigenous leaders in Australia and the Amazon, and climate leaders from around the world.

“This is a global journey exploring the emotional and psychological dimensions of the climate crisis and, in particular, the resulting grief, suffering, mourning and pain that emerges from the loss of ecosystems, homelands and non-human bodies, and what we can do with and learn from this grief and loss.” she said.

“There is so much in this film to which we can all connect – we know the pain of grief for losing a loved one – and now we are increasingly understanding the grief that is so deeply connected to increasing environmental loss.”

In addition to be shown at the Vancouver International Film Festival, The Magnitude of All Things will also be shown during the Planet in Focus Film Festival where it will be available to view from anywhere in Canada from Oct. 14-18 at a cost of $8. Learn more about The Magnitude of All Things here.

Jeff Green is manager of communications in the Office of the Vice-President (Research). He can be reached at jeffg@mun.ca.