"Travel is a huge part of my work, which I love. People often don’t realize that travel, which has been deemed as fun for so long, could actually be very meaningful and have an impact. Everything that we do in our lives, even if it’s a vacation, has to have an impact."
Sarain is a storyteller and activist dedicated to amplifying the voices of her Indigenous community. Her involvement with TreadRight came about through her work around the preservation of culture and stories, in particular her work with the Manitobah Mukluks Storyboot School, The TreadRight Foundation’s first project in North America.
Sarain Fox's Treadright Impact
Sarain’s involvement with TreadRight emerged from her work helping to preserve Indigenous culture and stories through the Manitobah Mukluks Storyboot School — The TreadRight Foundation’s first project in North America. The school, located in Toronto Canada, teaches the traditional art of mukluk and moccasin-making in an effort to keep traditions alive and inspire the next generation of Indigenous artists.
All of Sarain’s work is rooted in her passion to represent and lift up Indigenous people and her commitment to climate justice, which includes her position as a board member for the Center for Biological Diversity.
Travel is an essential component of Sarain’s activism and storytelling. Through TreadRight, she is empowering people to recognize the impact they have as they travel and to make that impact a positive one. Sarain believes that everything we do in our lives should contribute to positive change.
Q & A with Sarain Fox
Can you tell us a bit about your involvement with TreadRight?
One of my biggest passions is cultural revitalization. I love supporting artists and keeping Indigenous arts alive. My involvement with TreadRight as their “People” Storyteller and Ambassador really came through my work around the preservation of culture and stories, which aligns with the work they do in their PEOPLE pillar, supporting communities and cultures through economic empowerment. The TreadRight Foundation’s first-ever project in North America was the Manitobah Mukluks Storyboot School at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. It teaches the traditional art of mukluk and moccasin making and is also one of my longest-standing partnerships. The project has created a not-for-profit, artisan-run Indigenous arts program that helps sustain Indigenous craft while providing cross-cultural exchange. The project creates an income for the managing artist, educates the next generation of Indigenous artists on the art of mukluk-making, creates a forum for cultural exchange, and expands the Storyboot School’s capacity to create real opportunities and life skills for Indigenous artists. TreadRight really made it possible for us to further our work and create a more enriching partnership.
What does responsible travel mean to you?
Travel is a huge part of my work, which I love. People often don’t realize that travel, which has been deemed as fun for so long, could actually be very meaningful and have an impact. Everything that we do in our lives, even if it’s a vacation, has to have an impact.
Being a responsible traveler to me means that although I always have a sense of awe and wonderment, I also want to speak to locals, ensure that I travel ethically, and bring home stories that may be less accessible. I also always think about the environmental impact of traveling. For example, I will choose not to have a drink on a plane if the only option is a plastic cup. I may not have a drink of water for four or five hours. That’s the conscious decision that I choose to make because it is comfort versus advocacy for me.
What’s the most common misconception about sustainable travel and what can you say about it?
People generally assume that sustainable travel will dampen their travel experience, be difficult, or make vacation life more stressful. So for me, it’s about inspiring people to come up with their own way to make an impact.
What I like to do is think about the longevity of the communities I’m visiting. Indigenous people have survived places for millennia. If you visit a place knowing your hosts have been there forever, it’s a lot harder to leave a bunch of garbage behind. Being conscious that each plastic bottle and each disposable bag you take, could sit there until your great, great, great, grandchildren visit, is
pretty devastating. I don’t want to be remembered for my litter.
If you could give travelers just a few tips on becoming more responsible, what would you say?
Research your choices. An easy way to start contributing is to choose sustainably-minded companies to book your travel with. Also, learn to get really honest about the impact you can, and are, making. Accountability matters.