Young Winnipeggers create hope in a time of climate chaos

Coming of age in the midst of the climate crisis is overwhelming, but young people across the country are rising to the challenge. In the short film and essay The Dream House, Laura Cameron shines a spotlight on the city's gen Z and millennial activists.

Meet Winnipeg's inspiring young activists in new short film The Dream House

How to find hope in the midst of climate chaos

3 months ago
Duration 6:59
Come inside The Dream House, a short film about four, young Winnipeg activists creating change. Video: Laura Cameron and Sidney Phommarath

This Creator Network article and short film The Dream House is the experience of Laura Cameron, a filmmaker and activist in Winnipeg. 

After last year's warm winter and a summer of smoke and drought, the deep cold experienced on the Prairies this winter felt comforting. It felt almost normal.

Waves of climate anxiety can leave me feeling desperately hopeless. It haunts me that the window of opportunity to prevent runaway climate change will likely close before I'm 40. Planning for the future feels impossible.

As a climate activist, I combat anxiety by organizing and taking action with others. But I have to admit, finding motivation can be challenging.

How do they continue to face the challenges of our warming world head-on rather than turning away?- Laura Cameron

I often wonder where other young activists find the motivation to do their work. How do they continue to face the challenges of our warming world head-on rather than turning away? Where do they find the energy to convene on the steps of the legislature, in late-night Zoom meetings and in the halls of their community centres, rallying others to demand change? 

As I started sharing these questions with friends, a short film began to take shape. The Dream House explores theories of hope and visions of a better future through interviews, workshops and the creation of an art installation with young activists from Treaty 1 land (which includes Winnipeg).

Winnipeg activists Brenden Gali (clockwise fom top left), Mandalyn Unger, Kakeka Thundersky and Hannah Muharjarine are fighting for change on many fronts. They share their stories in The Dream House, a new short film. (Laura Cameron and Sidney Phommarath)

In the process of fighting for change, what these activists are truly creating is hope. Not a naive sense of optimism, but an honest hope.

Hope that reckons with coming of age in an era of climate chaos and class warfare; hope that refuses to accept a predestined future; hope that is fuelled by working in solidarity with people around the world who feel the magnitude of the crisis as deeply as they do.

The future is uncertain. And, as Rebecca Solnit, Yotam Marom and other hope scholars remind us, in that uncertainty lies the space for hope. Change is not only possible, it is inevitable, and we have the power to influence it.

'Being in community with people is where we find our power,' says climate activist Mandalyn Unger. Unger shares her fear and hope for the future in The Dream House. (Laura Cameron and Sidney Phommarath)

Actions we take now will ripple into the future, just as the rights and access we have today came from the determination of those who fought for them before us. We are the outcome of our forebears enacting their own hopes and dreams, and we have a responsibility to carry this energy forward. 

Hope is hard to come by for many young people; it can be slippery and elusive.- Laura Cameron 

The pandemic has reminded us that nothing about our society is unchangeable. In the wake of destruction, we are given the opportunity to build something new. And this requires that we develop a vision of the future we want to create, the elements of which exist all around us in the present.

Perhaps, as the visionary adrienne maree brown suggests, we can understand the struggle of this moment as a battle of the imagination, and turn our attention to what we want to feed. Articulating these alternative futures, as we've done in The Dream House, provides a compass for our hope as we navigate an uncertain present.

Winnipeggers go inside the Dream House, a temporary art installation that brought people together to imagine the world they want. (Laura Cameron and Sidney Phommarath )

Hope is hard to come by for many young people; it can be slippery and elusive. But it is a choice we make. We choose not to give in to despair but to take on the responsibility of embodying hope in this challenging moment, and embrace the possibilities that come with it.

I look to the words of my late friend, fellow activist Danielle Moore, for inspiration.

She wrote: "In the midst of changing times, in the midst of a looming future, we can also revel in the idea that such a change can bring upon a new way of life. So I choose hope."

CBC Creator Network supports emerging filmmakers and community storytellers to create compelling content. Content is focused on audiences 18 to 30 years old and includes short docs and videos, personal essays, point-of-view columns, photo essays, animation and audio essays, among other projects. Check out the content here. 


Laura Cameron

Winnipeg filmmaker and activist

Laura Cameron is a settler activist, researcher, and filmmaker living on Treaty 1 territory in Winnipeg. Her work grows from a deep passion for climate justice and a desire to help bridge the gap between climate science, public perceptions and political will to motivate action.