A large sweeping mural in the far north of Canada says all you need to know about a new climate change awareness project: “Know I’m Here” is painted in big white letters across a squat gray building.

Local ecosystems are suffering in the area due to climate change, and yet the dangers are often overlooked. Two environmental nonprofits are hoping to use art to get people’s attention.

The PangeaSeed Foundation and Kal Barteski (founder of the The Polar Bear Fund), have teamed up to bring artists to Churchill, Manitoba, Canada to paint 16 large-scale public murals. The murals, which were completed near the end of June, explore the history of the province and highlight the devastating effects of climate change on local ecosystems.

Called SeaWalls Churchill, the art project is the latest installment of the larger SeaWalls: Artists for Oceans, which began in 2014. The goal is to use art to generate awareness of the dangers oceans face today.

While the larger SeaWalls spans over 300 murals in 12 different countries, SeaWalls Churchill is unique because it is the first time the project has been brought somewhere “sub-arctic,” an area just south of the Arctic Circle. Churchill has large polar bear and beluga whale populations and a wide array of birds, which influenced the location choice.

The murals are meant to call attention to the importance of protecting the oceans and shed light on the dangers the polar bears face due to melting sea ice and habitat destruction. 

However, it’s important to note that while raising awareness of the plight of the polar bears is a worthy cause and appropriate for the location, the bears have become a problematic mascot for climate change as many do not see the animals in their everyday lives. Climate change is hitting home for millions of people around the world in other ways, as well.

Still, here’s hoping the beautiful artwork serves as a cautionary reminder for all of us.


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