Sarain Fox - Treadright Ambassador

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.

Born in Batchawana First Nation in Canada, Sarain Fox is an Anishinaabe dancer, broadcaster, and activist and one of Canada’s most prominent Indigenous voices. A storyteller at heart, she seeks to amplify the voices of her people in hopes of creating meaningful dialogue between her indigenous community and settler communities. Sarain’s screen highlights include Rise (Viceland), Cut-Off (Viceland) and APTN’s Future History.

Q&A with Sarain Fox

Q: Tell us 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 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 enriched partnership.

Q: 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 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.

Q 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 theirown 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.

Q: 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.

Q What are you excited about in the coming months?

I’m excited to be in the process of solidifying the work that I will be doing with TreadRight in 2020. One of the projects we’re working on, that I began in Australia in the spring, is coming full circle and is inspired by the Storyboot School. I’m very excited our partnership has been successful enough that we get to now bring it somewhere new to share with Indigenous people across oceans. That’s been very special.