Cultures, Climate, Care: Indigeneity & the Nature of Global Change

N. Uhde © BUND

Commissioned & presented by the Goethe-Institut Toronto
with DesignTO

Register for this free in-person event at the new Goethe Air Space at the Goethe-Institut Toronto here.

The Goethe-Institut Toronto has invited Tim Leduc, associate professor in land-based social work at Wilfrid Laurier University, and elder Gae Ho Hwako Norma Jacobs to open the new Goethe Air Space. Designed along biophilic concepts to encourage and facilitate explorations between the natural, cultural and digital realms we inhabit, the Goethe-Institut’s new green plant wall will guide this workshop series into reflections on the interrelation between culture, land, trees, climate change and an ethic of care. An exchange with respondents will help weave connections and insights from Toronto to Germany.

This teaching series is ideal for people who:

  • Want to reflect on the (inter-)cultural dimensions of climate change and environmental justice.
  • Love the idea of creatively engaging our land/tree/climate relations for values and knowledge that can inform how we live.
  • Are interested in exploring the colonial roots of today’s climate changes and Indigenous insights into what a holistic response entails.

You can expect to leave the series with:

  • Holistic ways of culturally relating to land, trees and climate.
  • A sense of creative and culturally appropriate approaches to renewing our nature relations.
  • A renewed sense of the mystery and creative courage underlying our land/tree/climate relations.
  • Reflection activities for fostering care in nature relations & change in self (community, culture, species, planet).

Session 1: Culture
March 8, 2022, 12 noon EST
The first session looks at cultural ways of activating our knowledge and practices of care through the natural relations around us. After a rendition of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address by Norma Jacobs (virtually), Tim Leduc will, against the backdrop of the Goethe Air Space’s green wall, reflect on connections between her teachings, her culture’s Tree of Peace and the European Tree of Life, the oak in German culture. Most poignant for this talk will be Goethe’s approach to “active seeing” of plant relations and the plant spirit that he termed Urpflanze. With Tim Leduc and Norma Jacobs.

Session 2: Climate
March 22, 2022, 12 noon EST
Looking at all the fallen white pines and oaks that crisscross Toronto’s ravines, it is clear that we live in a time of more extreme weather events; expanding losses in biological life that is the planet’s sixth mass extinction event; quickening uncertainty for Indigenous peoples in a melting north; and conflicts over energy extraction and consumption highlighted by pipeline protests across Turtle Island (North America). Session 2 considers the cultural responses to our climate of change. With Tim Leduc and Stefan Soldovieri.

Session 3: Care
April 5, 2022, 12 noon EST
The sense of medicine(s) is innate in every being when they are connected to their source, and people can draw upon healing medicines like those found in plants through fostering good relations with nature. There is medicine in the German oak and the Haudenosaunee onerahtase’ko:wa (white pine).

We can learn much from the trees and nature around us, as Anishinaabe healer Herb Nabigon explains in his book The Hollow Tree: “My culture embraces universal values [e.g., Peace, Kindness, Sharing, Respect] that are treasured by all … major cultures and religions. However, the traditional Native culture expresses these values in a unique way. All of our values are expressed through Nature, and then Nature teaches us how to behave.” The significant challenge today is to renew our diverse cultural medicines in the midst of a turbulent climate, and we will reflect on the value of re-learning to root our ways of living and caring in our land. With Tim Leduc, Kerstin Ensinger, Norma Jacobs.


Timothy Leduc has for over two decades been re-learning with Indigenous knowledge holders about his responsibilities as a settler whose mother is French Canadien and whose father carries French Canadien relations to Haudenosaunee and Wendat mission communities along the St. Lawrence River. He is an associate professor in land-based social work at Wilfrid Laurier University, not far from his home in Toronto (Tarontho, “meeting place”), Canada (Kanatha, “village”). He is the editor of the forthcoming book by Cayuga Elder Norma Jacobs Gaehowako entitled Ǫ da gaho dḛ:s: Reflecting on our Journeys (2022), and author of three books including A Canadian Climate of Mind: Passages from Fur to Energy and Beyond and Climate, Culture, Change: Inuit and Western Dialogues with a Warming North. (books on hand at the Goethe Air Space)

Gae Ho Hwako Norma Jacobs is of the Wolf clan in the Cayuga Nation of the Great Haudenosaunee Confederacy, a Longhouse Faith-keeper, advisor to the National Inquiry on MMIWG and Elder who has taught in universities, colleges and other institutions. She will share a Thanksgiving Address teaching in the first session to open this series as well as close the series.

Stefan Soldovieri, Chair and Associate Prof. of German, University of Toronto, affiliated at the Munk School of Global Affairs, teaches on environmental humanities and cultures of extraction and energy production in German contexts. He is a member of the Environmental Humanities Working Group in the Jackman Humanities Institute and graduate faculty member at the School of the Environment of the University of Toronto. Soldovieri is cofounder of iPRAKTIKUM, an experiential learning and internationalization initiative that provides U of T students from all disciplines with impactful internships. iPRAKTIKUM’s Germany-based futurGenerator programs in Berlin and Freiburg focus on sustainability and social innovation.

Dr. Kerstin Ensinger is an environmental psychologist and the head of the recreation and tourism department at the Black Forest National Park, Germany, where she offers tours and research on mindfulness and nature experiences. She has previously worked at the Forest Research Institute Baden-Württemberg and will be the respondent for the third session.

Please note, this event will be video recorded and photographed for non-commercial purposes.

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Program & Media Contact:
Jutta Brendemühl
Program Curator
Goethe-Institut Toronto