Remembrance Day for Lost Species (or RDLS, or Lost Species Day), 30 November, is an opportunity to explore the stories of species, cultures, ways of life and habitats driven extinct by unjust power structures and exploitation, past and ongoing. It emphasises that these losses are rooted in violent, racist and discriminatory economic and political practices.
RDLS, established in 2011, is driven by a growing coalition of artists, educators, scientists, historians and campaigners including ONCA. At ONCA we believe that RDLS is a powerful tool to support the remembering of what has been lost, celebrations of and commitments to what remains, and the development of creative and practical solutions.
But what remembrances are adequate in the face of ongoing genocides, ecocides, extinctions, structural violence? The day invites people to engage in whichever ways feel manageable – whilst pointing towards the need for spaces of systematic critique and acts of reparation. Part of the project’s aim is to highlight the interconnected norms and practices that harm diverse ecosystems and humans alike. Storytelling about extinctions must acknowledge and properly pay attention to related human experiences of injustice or oppression.
Since 2011, ONCA has joined groups in the UK and internationally to meet on November 30th and hold memorials for extinct species. Brighton remembrance events have ranged from a burial at sea for the Great Auk (extinct 1852) to a procession for the Caribbean Monk Seal (extinct 1952).
- 2013 – We planted trees with the Earth Restoration Service at Whitehawk Community Food Project in memory of lost amphibians.
- 2014 – We held one of a number of centenary memorials to the Passenger Pigeon (extinct 1914), carrying a pigeon sculpture up to the Life Cairn and burning it.
- 2015 – We cast the Bell for Lost Species in collaboration with Bristol-based mobile foundry Ore and Ingot, embossed with the extinction symbol.
- 2016 – ONCA held a procession for the thylacine (extinct 1936).
- 2017 – We organised a procession for lost and disappearing pollinators.
- 2018 – We hosed an artist residency, exhibition, and events programme entitled Some of Us Did Not Die.