Festival to be held in honour of murdered journalist after Lancs family’s appeal

British journalist Dom Phillips, right, and a Yanomami Indigenous man walk in Maloca Papiu village, Roraima state, Brazil, in November 2019
British journalist Dom Phillips, right, and a Yanomami Indigenous man walk in Maloca Papiu village, Roraima state, Brazil, in November 2019

A murdered journalist, who has family in Lancashire, will be honoured with a month-long festival in the county.

A month of events will be held in Lancaster to highlight the urgent work that was being done by environmental journalist, Dom Phillips, who was murdered earlier this year.

Dom and fellow activist, Bruno Pereira, were killed in June while travelling in the Brazilian Amazon.

They were investigating the undeclared war on indigenous communities and ways to tackle the destruction of the rainforest.

Lancashire Telegraph: A 'justice for Dom and Bruno' poster
Lancashire Telegraph: A 'justice for Dom and Bruno' poster

A 'justice for Dom and Bruno' poster

Dom’s sister Sian Phillips, who is a Lancaster musician, insisted that the work of her brother, as well as Bruno and the many other rainforest activists who have lost their lives, must continue.

Lancaster’s Halton Mill is lending its voice to Sian’s appeal and is partnering with Lancaster University, More Music, the Many Worlds Film Club, and other arts organisations to offer a festival of events during November titled ‘For Dom, Bruno & the Amazon’.

It is timed to coincide with COP27, when the eyes of the world will be focussed on how our leaders are responding to the environmental crisis and will include an exhibition, concerts, films, talks, arts events  and a two-day conference.

Sian Phillips has a long connection with Halton Mill, where she has led the community choir, Lune Valley Voices, and performed with her partner Paul and her bands Boom Bike Big Band, Folk to Folk and the Balkanics.

Dom visited Halton with Sian last year, interested in the way Halton Mill and neighbouring Lancaster Cohousing were using Halton’s hydro electric plant to provide their energy.

Fiona Frank, who is co-ordinating the programme of events, came up with the idea for the festival.

She said: “I was so moved by Sian’s speech at her brother’s funeral, where she said that the story of what is happening to the rainforest and its inhabitants must be told, that I wanted to do something to support this.”

Fiona, who has sung in Sian’s choir and played music with her for many years, is one of the Mill’s directors and an experienced event organiser.

She has been amazed and touched by the enthusiasm shown by the people she has asked to take part.

Dr Nelly Marubo, an indigenous Marubo activist and former colleague of Bruno, will give the keynote speech via Zoom at the conference. She is a community leader in the Javari region, where Bruno and Dom were killed.

Film director Max Baring, who co-directed the film ‘Guarding the Forest’ which features an interview with Bruno Pereira, will be attending the conference in person – as will Lancaster University academics Dr Luke Parry, Dr James Fraser, Professor Jos Barlow, Cool Earth deputy director Hannah Peck, and others.

Most of the events will be free, as the Mill is encouraging people who attend them to donate to an appeal set up by Dom’s and Bruno’s families to support the indigenous defenders of the rainforest.

Fiona is keen to encourage other organisations, including schools and community groups, to hold an Amazon or Brazil-related activity during November and feature as part of the programme. She is also appealing for help and support.

The full programme, with activities across Lancaster District, will be published at the end of September. A dedicated website, with a calendar of the activities already planned, can be seen at: haltonmill.org.uk/DomBruno .