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World-Renowned Environmentalist Dr. Vandana Shiva Visits Trent

Author, feminist, philosopher and activist delivers public lecture on seed bio-diversity to packed house

World-Renowned Environmentalist Dr. Vandana Shiva Visits Trent
World-Renowned Environmentalist Dr. Vandana Shiva Visits Trent

For the sake of the future health of our planet and its people, we need further collaborations between Indigenous and scientific knowledge.

This was the message delivered by world-renowned environmentalist Dr. Vandana Shiva to an audience of nearly 400 Trent students, professors, First Nations elders, local farmers, youth and community members at a public lecture at Trent University on November 16.

“Through shared knowledge, we have power,” Dr. Shiva said.

Her lecture, entitled "Sacred Seeds: Seeds of Resistance, Seeds of Hope," Dr. Shiva called upon everyone to work as a community of the majority to create a food sovereignty movement and demonstrated just how important local and global food systems are to us as a species. Focusing on the importance of seed saving and bio-diversity, and how genetically modified crops, which depend on pesticides, threaten not only biodiversity, but the livelihoods of small-scale farmers, Dr. Shiva emphasized the role of traditional knowledge to our food systems and commended Trent University for its groundbreaking Indigenous Environmental Studies program.

"Vandana Shiva is one of a handful of scientists who has transformed our way of thinking through their activism,” said Dr. Suresh Narine, director of the Trent Centre for Biomaterials Research, which presented the talk in partnership with the Kawartha World Issues Centre (KWIC). “In her presentation at Trent, what resounded for me most was her placement of ancient cultural values at the pivot of our potential to deal with the wicked problems of our times, and her insistence that traditional knowledges are essential components of scientific solutions to such problems. Dr. Shiva for me represents the kind of scientific citizenship which is so valued within Trent's multidisciplinary approach to education, and I am delighted that she is now part of our ongoing Carbon Conversation. "

“We have dreamed for several years to bring Dr. Shiva to Peterborough and it finally happened with excellent timing, passion, and partnerships,” added Julie Cosgrove, executive director of KWIC. “This synergy speaks to the importance of Dr. Shiva’s work, which is very multi-disciplinary – also an important Trent value. Dr. Shiva’s work intersects with Indigenous knowledge and culture, the sciences, such as bio-tech research, and embraces the critical issue of food security from a global human rights perspective. And this why Wenjack Theatre was full on a Sunday morning.”

After Dr. Shiva left to catch a flight back to India, an open conversation continued in the First Peoples’ Gathering Space, which explored the themes of the lecture. With standing room only, elders, knowledge holders and community leaders led discussions on traditional food sovereignty and sustainable food practices.

An environmentalist, prolific author, feminist, philosopher and activist, Dr. Shiva is recognized for her work to protect heritage seeds from genetic engineering, and challenging how we think about development and sustainable agriculture in the face of increasing globalization. In 1991, she founded ‘Navdanya,’ a movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially seeds that works to prevent seeds from genetic modification patents and becoming intellectual property. Dr. Shiva has written over 300 papers published in leading scientific journals as well as over 20 books.

Dr. Shiva’s Peterborough visit was organized in collaboration between the Trent Centre for Biomaterials Research and the Kawartha World Issues Centre as part of the ongoing Carbon Conversations lecture series, and was hosted in partnership with Indigenous Environmental Studies and the First People's House of Learning. "Sacred Seeds" was generously supported by the David Sheperd Family, Pacific Rubiales Energy, Wildeboer Dellelce LLP, Sustainable Trent, and Trent Oxfam.

Posted on Thursday, November 20, 2014.

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