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Équiterre and WWF use art to illustrate the urgency to take action against climate change

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Montreal, Quebec, November 24, 2015 – To illustrate the impacts of climate disruption on our environment, Équiterre and WWF-Canada present: Polar Bears on Thin Ice. A few days before the opening of the 21st UN Conference of the Parties (COP21), the two organizations display an artistic project that includes an ice sculpture of a life-size polar bear by an Inuit artist, outside video projections and a conference on issues that threaten Arctic species and communities.

The polar bear is a major emblem of the Arctic – it is an indicator for species and communities who suffer the consequences of climate change in that region. The Canadian Arctic, which occupies almost 40% of Canada and two-thirds of its coastline, is intimately linked to our identity. Alas, this region is transforming at a rapid pace, changing its landscape forever. Global warming is happening at twice the global rate, causing sea ice – the mainstay of Arctic life – to melt and upsetting the wellbeing of communities and species of the whole region.

The Polar Bear on Thin Ice sculpture
The original Polar Bear on Thin Ice was created in triplicate by British artist Mark Coreth in 2009 to be presented at the COP15 in Copenhagen. The art pieces have also been exhibited among others in London, Ottawa, Quebec City and Toronto since 2010. The art piece made out of plaster, rubber, ceramic, wax and bronze weigh 6,000 kg covered in ice and 400 kg in its skeletal state. Representing a life-size polar bear, this sculpture is spectacular and captivating.

"We wanted to show that climate change, which causedmild winters and earlier springs that we have seen in recent years, have catastrophic impacts on the living conditions of the northern communities and several endangered species Arctic species, such as polar bears," says Steven Guilbault, Équiterre’s Senior Director. "The sculpture is a great way to demonstrate the interdependence of the different territories in regards to climate change."

In Canada, Inuit artists have always participated in the ice bears’ sculpture. And this year will be no exception – the ice bear is carved by artist Peter Ittukallak Puvirnituq. He is assisted by Julien Doré, a sculptor of the Laurentians (Quebec).

When we asked Peter Ittukallak to participate in the sculpting, he readily agreed. “I like doing this kind of work, because I am worried about climate change. It is raining today. It should be cold and more like winter but it is raining. Unfortunately I don’t have control over animals and wildlife, but the climate worries me, and that’s where I can make a difference.”

People are invited to come see and touch the sculpture and watch as it melts. It will be exhibitednext to Maison du développement durable (50 Sainte-Catherine Street West), in Montreal until December 12.

Images of the Arctic
To support the amazing art piece, a video will be screened every evening from 5:30 pm to 6 pm, from November 23rd to December 6th, on the wall of St-Laurent metro station and on the wall of the Université du Québec à Montréal’s (UQAM) Président-Kennedy pavilion. That projection will raise awareness of the impacts of global warming on Arctic biodiversity and communities with shocking facts and numbers.

"Imagine if a third of the area of Quebec disappeared," said Sophie Paradis, Quebec Director for WWF. "This is the drama unfolding in the Arctic. By 2040, the summer sea ice will mostly disappear with only a fringe of ice limited to the northern coasts of Canada and Greenland. This illustrates the magnitude of the impact of climate changes that we all face. But we have the solutions, and we can start implementing them now. The price of inaction will be far greater than the cost of investing in the necessary transition."

Lunch and learn
Paul Crowley, VP of WWF-Canada’s Arctic program, and Steven Guilbeault, co-founder and senior director for Équiterre, will be hosting a conference about the daily struggles that face Arctic inhabitants in the Maison du développement durable’s Atrium on November 25, from 12:15 pm to 1:15 pm. To learn more and RSVP:

Équiterre and WWF-Canada would like to thank Groupe Robert for their continued support throughout the project and the Federation of Northern Quebec cooperatives for their assistance and translation services with Peter Ittukallak.


About the project partners
Équiterre's mission is to help build a social movement by encouraging individuals, organizations and governments to make ecological choices, equity and solidarity. By its action, Équiterre wants to bring attention to the fundamental aspects of life. Eat, move, live, and eat garden: vital needs, but also the means to reach everyone to act responsibly and change the world one step at a time.

WWF-Canada provides solutions to the most serious conservation challenges facing our planet in order to halt the degradation of the natural environment of the planet and build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature.

For more information :
Sophie Paradis, Director for Quebec, WWF-Canada, 514-603-7627

Dale Robertson, Équiterre, 514 605-2000