This is the third part of four blog series about “Stockholm+50 Experience Diary”, written by Elizabeth Swanson Andi. She is an indigenous impact storyteller, photographer, and part of the INUTW team. Learn more about her experience during the event Stockholm+50, held on the 2nd and 3rd of June, 2022.
During the afternoon, I was invited to be one of six youths to meet with the United Nations President. I quickly began to think of how to best share the message and reality of my community. How could I explain the destruction we have been facing in our home where the forests, rivers, and our collective bodies have been at the forefront of deforestation and mining in just a few words? After a few minutes I realized that I would not be able to attend this meeting, since I was one of the only two southern indigenous photographers at this conference. My responsibility was behind the camera rather than in front. This has become quite the dilemma, how can I document these types of spaces while also representing the voice of my own community? It’s something I have not been able to fully figure out, but I think writing and sharing about this is my way to partially bridge this gap. Although I have had to give up opportunities to speak, I fully trust my friends and allies to carry on the message while I document and make sure our collective messages are taken further outside these events. But as some doors closed…others began to open.
I grew up between two completely different worlds and this feeling of never fully being able to be in both at the same time or “missing out” on something was heartbreaking but also normal. It’s normal for many of us who walk between two worlds, so I wanted to share something that my aunt Lisa often says to me “We are born to this place, to this time period, to each other. We are here to share our gifts”. In short, there is a purpose to doors opening and closing, a reason for existing between two worlds, a gift really. I remembered her words and focused on the moments before me. That evening a door opened and I walked into a beautiful surprise where I had the opportunity to spend time listening to global indigenous elders, to our elders. It’s important to listen and carry on their voices, and as youth that is our responsibility and I felt honored to listen…honored to exist in this place, this time, and with each other.
This blog was written by