COMING TO THE MAT is a production of Melanesian Women Today, an organization aimed at telling the stories of courageous,ordinary Pacific Island women from all across the South Pacific (Melanesia, Polynesia & Micronesia and around the globe).
Episode 32: Breaking Barriers: The Journey of Malakai Obed
10/10/2023In this episode of "COMING TO THE MAT '' titled "Breaking Barriers: The Journey of Malakai Obed," host Dr. Mere Tari Sovick puts the Pacific diaspora in the spotlight. She shares the incredible story of Malakai Obed, a young man living in Utah, USA, with roots in the island of Paama, Vanuatu. Malakai has made history as the first ni-Vanuatu to serve in the United States Marine Corps. Dr. Sovick delves into Malakai's inspiring journey, highlighting his unique experiences as a Marine and the significant impact of Pacific Islanders in their new homes and places of origin. This episode celebrates the strength, culture, and achievements of Pacific diaspora members, particularly the ni-Vanuatu community in the US, showcasing their unity and progress. It also provides insights into the role of the Marine Corps within the broader context of the United States Armed Forces.Credit to PBS for the US Marines documentary https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMcKywS-nz4Thanks for Malakai's mom Jamie Obed Rowley for participating.
Episode 31 - Ralph Reganvanu: Shaping the future of Vanuatu and the Pacific Region
5/18/2023Welcome to another captivating episode of "Coming to the Mat" with your host, Dr. Mere Tari Sovick! In this episode, we have the honor of welcoming Ralph Regenvanu, a prominent advocate from Vanuatu, as our special guest. Ralph is a remarkable individual with diverse talents and passions, transcending the realm of politics through his roles as an esteemed artist and anthropologist. His unwavering advocacy for cultural preservation has earned him a global platform, where he actively shapes discussions on diversity. Ralph's journey has been shaped by a deep understanding of the challenges faced by Vanuatu and its neighboring countries. With his expertise in anthropology and development studies, he has dedicated his life to unraveling the intricate connections between culture, tradition, and progress. Being the first Ni-Vanuatu anthropologist, Ralph brings invaluable insights into the diverse dynamics of the region, particularly within Vanuatu. During his recent visit to Seattle, Washington, Dr. Mere Tari Sovick had the privilege of interviewing Ralph before his return to Vanuatu. The aim was to gain valuable insights from him on pressing issues that not only impact Vanuatu but also the entire Pacific region. These issues include climate change, economic development, and political sovereignty. In their conversation, Dr. Mere Tari Sovick and Ralph delved into various aspects of Ralph's life. They explored the profound influence of his parents' involvement in Vanuatu's anti-colonial independence movement during his upbringing in the 1970s. They also discussed the significant role played by Melanesian traditional values in shaping Vanuatu's development. Ralph's journey as a renaissance individual was highlighted, covering his work as an anthropologist, Director of the Cultural Centre, lawyer, and his current position as the Minister of Climate Change, Adaptation, Meteorology and Geohazards, Energy, Environment, and Disaster Risk Management for Vanuatu. The focus of their conversation centered around the urgent challenge of climate change and its impact on Vanuatu and the wider Pacific region. Ralph provided profound insights into the steps needed to address this pressing issue, emphasizing the importance of sustainable resource management and inclusive growth for the benefit of all members of society. Furthermore, Ralph shared his views on strategies to assert political sovereignty and autonomy for Vanuatu and other Pacific nations, highlighting the current geopolitical dynamics in the region and the need for political reform. The conversation also explored the critical role of traditional knowledge and practices in preserving the environment and promoting indigenous sustainable development. Ralph emphasized the integration of traditional resource management approaches with modern methods, finding ways to harmonize them for the benefit of communities in Vanuatu. They also discussed the importance of including women in decision-making processes related to biodiversity and traditional resources, particularly within the four legs of the community, as Ralph referred to it. Moreover, the significance of international cooperation and collaboration in addressing the challenges faced by Vanuatu and the wider Pacific region was highlighted. Ralph shed light on the power of partnerships and collective action in realms such as climate change and economic development. Despite contributing a minuscule amount to global greenhouse gas emissions, small Pacific island nations like Vanuatu are actively working to safeguard their economies and protect future generations from the impacts of climate change. However, challenges exist in receiving promised development assistance from wealthier countries, leading Vanuatu to explore new alliances with countries like China and India. Additionally, the Government of Vanuatu led a year-long campaign resulting in a historic decision at the UN General Assembly. The Assembly unanimously requested the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to issue an Advisory Opinion on the legal obligations regarding climate change. This decision signifies Vanuatu's determination to seek justice and find legal avenues to address the impacts of climate change. Want to join MWT as a member? Members get ad free episodes of this podcast and more. Head over to https://www.melanesianwomentoday.org/member to learn more and join. This podcast is 100% member supported. This work cannot be done without you, our members. Thanks for considering purchasing a membership today.
Episode 30 - Vanuatu's ICJ Initiative: Leading the Fight for Climate Justice
3/31/2023In the final episode of our three-part podcast series, we discuss the Republic of Vanuatu's pivotal role in leading a coalition of countries seeking an Advisory Opinion on climate change from the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Our guests, Mr. Malcolm Dalesa and His Excellency Mr. Odo Tevi, both instrumental in the campaign's success, provide valuable insights into the initiative's strategy and execution.Vanuatu, an island archipelago in the South Pacific, faces the highest disaster risk globally due to climate change, as confirmed by the 2021 UN University World Risk Index and the Institute for Environment and Human Security. Climate change has already caused severe damage to various sectors, including agriculture, water, coastal and marine resources, infrastructure, and tourism. Recent weather events have wiped out a third of Vanuatu's GDP in a single day, destroying homes and villages. If nothing is done, Vanuatu could become uninhabitable by mid-century, endangering its culture, statehood, and sovereignty.Vanuatu leads the climate justice movement and seeks to amplify the voices of vulnerable populations, including indigenous peoples, women, children, and the poor, through its ICJ Initiative. Its goal is to work with all vulnerable nations, peoples, and supporters to achieve an Advisory Opinion from the ICJ.As we conclude our podcast series, we express gratitude for the Pacific Islands Students Fighting Climate Change (PISFCC), whose advocacy for climate justice and sustainable future for all has inspired us. Their journey demonstrates the power of youth-led movements in the fight against climate change and reminds us of the urgent need to address this global crisis and protect the rights of current and future generations.We hope that the Vanuatu-led coalition's pursuit of an Advisory Opinion from the ICJ will be successful and lead to new international laws integrating legal obligations around environmental treaties and basic human rights. We stand with the PISFCC and all those working towards a more sustainable future for ourselves and generations to come. Let us all be advocates for climate justice and work together to achieve this vision.
Episode 29 - Empowering Youth for Climate Justice: A Conversation with Solomon Yeo, Campaign Director of Pacific Island Students Fighting Climate Change
3/31/2023In the second episode, we hear from Solomon Yeo, who is the campaign director of Pacific Island Students Fighting Climate Change. Yeo is from the Solomon Islands and his concern for the environment and inequality originates from the devastating effects of climate change that he witnessed firsthand in his home country. He recognizes the pressing need to take action and has dedicated himself to advocating for climate justice. Solomon shares how the organization he co-founded, Pacific Island Students Fighting Climate Change, has a youth-centric approach, recognizing the crucial role that young people play in shaping the future. He explains how the organization educates and involves youth in their campaigns and initiatives, empowering them to make meaningful contributions towards tackling the pressing issues of our time.Solomon shares some of the obstacles they have overcome and how young people can help overcome them. He also discusses the organization's collaborations with other groups, stakeholders, civil society and how young people can be a part of this movement.Throughout the episode, Solomon emphasizes the impact and effectiveness of young people's involvement and contributions, discussing key metrics and indicators used to track the success of their campaigns and initiatives.On February 20, 2023, Vanuatu, along with 17 other core group members, uploaded the final draft resolution requesting an advisory opinion on climate change from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) onto the UN's e-delegate portal. Solomon highlights the significance of this resolution and how widespread co-sponsorship will send a strong and unambiguous signal that nations are united in their commitment to abide by existing climate obligations under international law and to successful international climate cooperation.
Episode 28 - The Fight for Climate Justice: Pacific Island Students' Campaign for an International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion
3/31/2023The Coming to the Mat podcast series is a three-part collection of episodes that follows the journey of Pacific Islands Students Fighting Climate Change. The series aims to highlight the inspiring stories of young people who are taking action to combat the devastating effects of climate change on their island communities.The series explores how these students, who come from 8 different Pacific Island countries, have banded together to fight for their future. Through personal interviews, the podcast delves into the individual experiences of the students and the unique ways in which they, collectively, are fighting climate change.One of the key focus areas of the series is the role of Vanuatu, a Pacific Island nation, in leading a core group of nations to draft a question to ask the International Court of Justice. This question seeks to clarify what the obligations of states are in protecting the rights of current and future generations from the adverse effects of climate change.The Pacific Islands are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to their small landmass and low elevation, which make them more susceptible to rising sea levels, stronger storms, and other climate-related disasters. These students have witnessed firsthand the effects of climate change on their homes and communities and have taken it upon themselves to make a difference.The podcast explores how these students have used their voices and platforms to advocate for climate action, raise awareness, and implement tangible solutions. It showcases their resilience, creativity, and determination in the face of significant challenges, including lack of resources and political will.Introduction: In the first episode of the Coming to the Mat podcast series, the hosts interview two members of the Pacific Islands Students Fighting Climate Change (PISFCC) to learn about their mission and how they are using their education to combat the climate crisis affecting Pacific Island nations.In the first episode of the series, the hosts interview two members of the group to find out how they got started and how they are using their education to help mitigate the climate crisis that is affecting Pacific Island nations today. The episode highlights how the group launched a petition calling upon leaders of Pacific Island nations, as well as Australia and New Zealand, to commence the process of seeking an advisory opinion on human rights and climate change from the International Court of Justice. In 2021, the PISFC welcomed the announcement by the Vanuatu Government to take on the campaign to seek an International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on the issue of climate change and human rights as a huge milestone for the campaign. This marks a significant step forward in the fight against climate change and a significant win for the Pacific Island students who have been fighting for their future. The podcast also discusses how this regional youth-led organization has been campaigning for an advisory opinion from the Court since 2019 and now has expanded throughout the Pacific with members from Primary schools, high schools and majority being University students.
Episode 26 - Pacific Island Students Fight for Climate Justice with Solomon Yeo
2/21/2023Pacific Island Students Fighting Climate Change: Advocating for Climate Justice and Human Rights - Solomon Yeo (campaign director)Solomon Yeo, a law student from the Solomon Islands, is the campaign director of Pacific Island Students Fighting Climate Change. His passion for addressing climate change and inequality stems from the devastating effects of climate change that he witnessed firsthand in his home country. He recognized the urgent need to take action and dedicated himself to advocating for climate justice.As one of the founding members of Pacific Island Students Fighting Climate Change, Solomon plays a crucial role in leading the charge towards a better future for our planet. His responsibilities include coordinating and organizing campaigns, building partnerships with local leaders and organizations, and advocating for climate justice on a global level.Currently, the organization is seeking an advisory opinion on climate change from the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Solomon provides updates on the progress of the campaign and highlights the importance of including human rights with climate action.Pacific Island Students Fighting Climate Change has a youth-centric approach, recognizing the critical role that young people play in shaping the future. Solomon discusses how the organization educates and involves youth in their campaigns and initiatives, empowering them to make meaningful contributions towards tackling the pressing issues of our time.Despite the successes of the organization, they face significant challenges in bringing about meaningful change. Solomon shares some of the obstacles they have overcome and how young people can help overcome them. He also discusses the organization's collaborations with other groups and stakeholders and how young people can be a part of this movement.Throughout the episode, Solomon emphasizes the impact and effectiveness of young people's involvement and contributions, discussing key metrics and indicators used to track the success of their campaigns and initiatives.On February 20, 2023, Vanuatu, along with 17 other core group members, uploaded the final draft resolution requesting an advisory opinion on climate change from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) onto the UN's e-delegate portal. High-ambition climate-leading states can now co-sponsor the resolution immediately through their UN Permanent Representatives. The resolution will remain open for co-sponsorship until its adoption by the General Assembly, expected in late March or early April 2023. Widespread co-sponsorship will send a strong and unambiguous signal that nations are united in their commitment to abide by existing climate obligations under international law and to successful international climate cooperation. The text of the resolution is publicly available at bit.ly/413ZlS1 and is open for co-sponsorship now.Special Thanks To: Host: Saiya McElderry for conducting and hosting the show with Solomon YeoAudio production: Chun Chia Tai Production Manager - Dr. Mere Tari Sovick
Episode 25 - Repatriation
2/3/2023Welcome to the Coming to the Mat podcast where we celebrate the stories, history, and perspectives of remarkable Pacific Island women. Each episode is an opportunity to explore new topics that highlight the rich cultural heritage of our Pacific Island nations, from Culture and Traditions to Health and Wellness, Economy and Business, and more. Join me, Dr. Mere Tari Sovick, as we embark on a journey of discovery and inspiration.Today, we delve into the significant topic of repatriation, specifically the repatriation of human remains from the Pacific region that were stored in German collections. The repatriation effort is part of Germany's acknowledgement of its colonial past and its commitment to confront this history. Our guest today, Dr. Tarisi Vunidilo, is a Fijian archaeologist and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Göttingen in Germany.Dr. Vunidilo is well-versed in the field of archaeology and has a passion for sharing her knowledge about the histories of places, artifacts, and Indigenous peoples. During her four-month fellowship at Göttingen, Dr. Vunidilo is working to develop a comprehensive research agenda on the repatriation of more than 1,000 human remains from Oceania, with 900 of those coming from Papua New Guinea.In this episode, we will explore Dr. Vunidilo's work on repatriation, the significance of preserving Pacific indigenous cultural heritage, and her experiences as a researcher from the Pacific. Join us as we delve into this enlightening conversation and discover the importance of connecting with societies of origin in the region, so that human remains can be returned to their rightful homes. So sit back, relax, and let's explore this topic of discovery and inspiration together!
Episode 24 - Kava Part 1
3:15:00In this first of two parts, we discuss Kava as the drink of the gods in the south pacific. Thank you to Kirk Huffman and Jason Sovick for their contribution to the discussion. Music Credits:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xvwn45ida0National Museum of VanuatuQuote from Kirk Hauffman'Kava is the Gifts of the Gods, the Spirits and the Ancestors to parts of the Pacific. It is nowadays also the Gift of the Pacific to the World, if only that World is intelligent enough to embrace it, accept it and use it wisely'. Also:'It has been a pleasure to have the opportunity to talk to Dr Sovick on this wondrous and important topic. Kava has taught me much over the last five decades. I hope that those listeners who have not yet had the opportunity to consume it in the proper respectful way will one day eventually be able to do so''.
Episode 23 - Marylou Mahe
6/19/2022Episode 23In this episode, we talk to Marylou Mahe who is the designer behind the MWT Facebook cover and the COMING TO THE MAT podcast. Ms. Mahe is an indigenous Kanak woman from Houaïlou in the Kanak country of Ajë-Arhö in New Caledonia. She considers herself a decolonial feminist designer, and an Educator of English literature who's passion is to show representation of the Kanak and Pacific Island women in her designs.In her discussion with us, she spoke of "double colonization" which refers to the idea that women are not only discriminated against because of their race, but also by men because of their gender. Music: Carmen Marcias is an indigenous Kanak Woman Song writer, singer, poet and teacher of English literature. Ms. Marcias is also Marylou Mahe's mother who inspired her to pursue her passion as an English language educator, but to also embrace her talents as an artist and to be a strong independent woman.