Experiencing Interruptions?

Faster Than Light

Every year, in the subarctic in Chief Drygeese Territory--the traditional territory of the Yellowknives Dene, Tlicho Dene, and North Slave Metis, a snow castle is built. This part of the world is warming at triple the global rate and is already experiencing health impacts from climate change including increased asthma exacerbations due to wildfire smoke, food security impacts due to changes in fish and land animal habitat, and sadness and a sense of disconnection from the land as it changes. Sometimes it can be difficult to discuss emotions around ecological grief, ecoanxiety, and eco-anger, so we decided to ask community members to instead dance how climate change makes them feel. Participants included doctors, teachers, actors, radio hosts, film makers, geologists children and more. We filmed on sequential days as the snow castle melted, in order to capture the dramatic change in the natural and human-built landscape. The subtitles were chosen based on what we saw, as well as academic work published in the Lancet Planetary Health by our director and colleagues.
Song-Faster than Light by Jay Gilday.

Climate Change and Health Expert, Dr Robin Stott, MD's voice: "Climate change is leading to a health catastrophe. There are going to be wildfires, storms, heat stress, flooding due to sea-level rise, malnutrition, migration and conflict. We must move rapidly to a low-carbon economy, even before I die. Some people find this difficult to hear. How do you feel about it?"

Before COVID-19, we asked people to dance how climate change made them feel.
We saw worry, exhaustion, sadness, uncertainty, and anger. These are normal responses to the threat of climate change.
As with any diagnosis, working through emotions is a step toward healing.
It can be difficult.
So what do we do?
Emotional work takes time and energy. Be generous with yourself.
Connect with the land. Exercise. Engage with traditions. Do what brings you peace and joy. Sharing your feelings is a gift and it lets others know they are not alone.
Help each other by respecting and caring for Mother Earth together.
Connection brings us into the community we need to create a world where all can thrive.
It will take courage.
With COVID, we have said goodbye a lot.
Let's say hello to a healthy future.

  • Courtney Gail Howard
    Co-director of Wellcome Trust and Sandpaper Film-produced video on climate change and health that was premiered at COP26.
  • Courtney Gail Howard
  • Courtney Gail Howard
  • Amos Scott
  • Robin Stott
    Key Cast
    "Climate and Health Legend"
  • Jay Gilday
  • Project Type:
    Music Video
  • Runtime:
    3 minutes 55 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    November 6, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    2,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • WHO-GCHA Climate and Health Conference at COP26
    United Kingdom
    November 6, 2021
Director Biography - Courtney Gail Howard

Dr Courtney Howard is an Emergency Physician in Yellowknives Dene Territory, a Clinical Associate Professor in the Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, a Community Research Fellow in Planetary Health at the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research, and Past-President of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE). Dr Howard worked in Djibouti for six months on a pediatric malnutrition project with Médecins Sans Frontières, and that experience drives much of her work on climate-related mitigation and adaptation. She has researched menstrual cups and wildfires, and led policy work and advocacy regarding ecoanxiety, vaccine equity, movement-building, active transport, plant-rich diets, fossil fuel divestment, carbon pricing, coal phase-out, hydraulic fracturing and with regards to Canada’s Oil Sands. She led the 2017-2019 Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change Briefings for Canadian Policymakers and was the 2018 International Policy Director for the Lancet Countdown. Dr Howard sits on the boards of the Canadian Medical Association and the Global Climate and Health Alliance, is the co-chair for advocacy for the WHO-Civil Society Working Group on Climate Change and Health, as well as being on the Steering Committee of the Planetary Health Alliance, and the Editorial Advisory Boards of the Lancet Planetary Health and the Journal of Climate Change and Health. When not in the ER or deep in a literature review she can be found dancing with her two young daughters on the shores of Back Bay in Canada’s subarctic.

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Director Statement

I grew up doing gymnastics and dancing, and still find myself turning to movement to help process my emotions. I find that often my body knows things my mind does not. Living in an Indigenous-majority part of the world, I'm increasingly appreciating that our bodies are the little parts of Nature that we walk around in every day. In making this film, I wanted to explore how the wisdom of our bodies could help us reconcile with the realities of climate change in order to not only help us center ourselves within our current situation and take more productive action, but to do so in joy and community.