Elizabeth Swanson Andi
Iyarina AAFS , If Not Us Then Who?, ACEER Foundation
Elizabeth is a Napu Kichwa visual storyteller, social and environmental advocate, environmental science educator, and community organizer from the Santu Urku/Venecia Kichwa Community on the Napo River in the Ecuadorian Amazon. She is the president of the Iyarina Research Station where along with her family she works to preserve indigenous languages, the social emotional relation to nature, and oral traditions through audio-visual documentation and film. There they also actively protect 1300 acres of endangered forests as well as work to restore forests through a combination of traditional ecological knowledge and ‘western’ science.
She is part of the If Not Us Then Who? Communications Team, ensuring a perspective from rainforest indigenous communities and is also part of their Emerging Filmmakers mentorship cohort. She is an ACEER Conservation Fellow and recently became part of their Science and Education Advisory Committee. She spends a great time volunteering for inidgenous-led frontline organizations like Inti Anka Taripay (a group of Amazonian Kichwa profesionales dedicated to promoting science in the kichwa language and taking action in their communities) and Mujeres Amazonicas (Women Land Defender of the Ecuadorian Amazon).
Elizabeth is greatly inspired by the land and people who shaped her. In the Kichwa language there are three words that center Elizabeth’s work— “Iyarina” meaning to think by looking at the land and remembering what happened there. “Llakichina”, meaning to feel empathy, sorrow, and love all at once. Finally “Kuyana”, the act of reciprocity, taking action and giving back. Elizabeth is motivated by not only the joy of her people but also the loss she and her community have experienced at the face of deforestation and extractivist efforts. She believes in the power of collective action and impact storytelling and its crucial role for a viable future. “Change begins with empathy and healing. Storytelling is a way to heal the earth, and through the earth heal each other”.
Wildscreen are delighted to welcome Elizabeth as a Programmer for Wildscreen's Official Selection in 2022.