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Climate change awareness in educational spaces: Itaukei responses through Indigenous knowledge sharing – case study: Talanoa with Dr T podcast & Fijian communities

Tarisi Vunidilo

2022 Fiji, Pasifika

With the exponential rise in ‘gloom-and-doom’ reports of climate change spreading like wildfire around the Pacific, something interesting has been taking place around the many digital platforms regarding learning for I Taukei (indigenous Fijian) families around the world. More and more Fijians, both young and old alike, are embarking on a journey to discover more about their identities and climate change through oral history, language, and its associated ‘indigenous’ calendar. As a teacher and host of the online podcast ‘Talanoa With Dr T’, I too have covered, shared, and discussed scientific reports relating to climate change in the iTaukei language. Because of this, I am able to simplify scientific findings relating to climate change through Tukuni (story-telling) and Veitalanoa Vakaviti (Fijian language sharing) to those listening. In this paper, I will be discussing how understanding climate change through digital community sharing and online classes using indigenous knowledge can be done, in order to reach out to everyone in our community, from those living in the islands to those living in the diaspora. Since April 2020, my digital program continues to reach over sixty-thousand people on a weekly basis, where followers listen to stories related to itaukei traditional calendar (Vula Vakaviti) that teaches Fijian families on environmental changes associated with seasons, fruits and fish. There are many examples shared by the listeners as well. For example, there are instances where entire villages are relocated, forcing families to become more vigilant and being more aware to all the environmental changes happening around them. I believe that sharing information in the local language and dialect aids in furthering indigenous knowledge gathering and understanding, and will lead to more proactive steps and actions taken by our local iTaukei families around Fiji.