On Seal Skins & Hard Drives
Storytelling in a Digital Age

Ashlee Cunsolo Willox

For Inuit in the Canadian North, seals and 
humans have been intrinsically interlinked,
weathering social, cultural, and 
environmental changes. This seal skin
is a signifier of the deep and enduring
linkages between humans and
animals, full of ritual, knowledge,
and wisdom. This hard drive
contains all the digital stories created
by Inuit in Nunatsiavut with whom I’ve been working – hours and hours of footage and video interviews used for our documentary, 1000s of pictures taken in North, and videos of community and cultural activities. This hard drive has become the repository of stories – stories of old wisdom on new media. 

Together, these two items indicate a new terrain in digital storytelling, capable of starting, maintaining, and changing dialogue through stories. Stories about Inuit culture and values. Stories about the land. Stories about loss and change and hope and resilience. Stories that transcend borders and boundaries, and expand epistemological and ontological perspectives. Stories that connect people and share important wisdom and knowledge. Stories that can spark action, and induce emotional response. 

For me, this is where the digital environmental humanities can lie – at the intersection of seal skins and hard drives, bringing diverse areas, medias, technologies, and ways of knowing together, united by the desire and the need to examine environmental issues from multi-faceted conceptual and analytical lenses.  The seal skin and hard drive, together, invite us to share stories, listen deeply to the stories of others, and create new platforms for connecting in the human, environmental, and digital publics, blending the three together for change.