Severn Cullis Suzuki
Severn Cullis Suzuki has been our host for all four seasons of SAMAQAN. She was our first choice as she has environmental roots that is part of her rearing. Being the child of renowned scientist, Dr David Suzuki she has been a front line witness to the planet as seen by her environmentalist dad. She is also deeply connected to indigenous culture since she decided to make Haida Gwaii her home. But she is an independent mind and at the early age of 9 she began her quest to raise awareness of the dire situation of climate change. In 1992 she appeared at the RIO Summit and she has been a dedicated advocate for a healthier planet since.
All her life Severn has been watching how humans exist in relation to nature and to each other. Growing up on the West Coast in British Columbia, Canada, she and her family spent a lot of time in different First Nations communities. Haida and Kwakwaka’wakw teachings have had a big influence on Severn beginning from when she was little. She was brought to action at 9 years old when her family traveled to the Kayapo territory of the Brazilian Amazon, and witnessed parallel destruction of resources -- slash burning of the forest. Needing to do something, she started the Environmental Children’s Organization (ECO) when she returned to Canada. Eventually, three years and several local projects later, ECO attended the UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Severn closed a plenary session with a bold speech.
Severn has continued to speak out. She has become engaged with the media, and has done countless interviews, written many articles and hosted a TV show for kids called Suzuki’s Naturequest. Leading by example was the main message in the cross-Canada ‘Powershift 2000’ campaign; in the summer of 2000 Sev and five friends cycled across Canada in this campaign for Clean air, raising awareness and action, and enjoying the ride of learning about Canada! Severn pursued a BSc at Yale University, where she and some friends spearheaded an internet-based think-tank called The Skyfish Project in 2002, with the aim of finding ways to live and work in line with their ideals. They created a pledge called the Recognition of Responsibility (ROR). As a member of Kofi Annan’s Special Advisory Panel for the WSSD in Johannesburg, Severn and the group brought the ROR to the UN World Summit in August 2002.
She also completed a Master’s degree in ethnobotany at the University of Victoria with Dr. Nancy Turner and Chief Adam Dick of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations (2008). Severn is on the board of the David Suzuki Foundation, and currently lives in Haida Gwaii, where she is studying the Haida language with her baby boy and husband. She hopes her pursuit of traditional and scientific knowledge will help her mandate of promoting a culture of diversity, sustainability and joy.