Franke James is a Canadian artist, author, and activist. Her visual stories, books, games, and videos are focused on the environment, freedom of expression, human rights, and social justice.James is an active member of TWUC's Freedoms and Rights Committee. From June 2017 to June 2018 she served as Chair of the FAR committee resulting in TWUC supporting a campaign for anti-SLAPP legislation in BC. On March 5, 2018, TWUC joined with 45 leading organizations and public interest advocates from a broad range of sectors in signing an open letter welcoming the BC Attorney General’s commitment to enact legislation to protect British Columbians from strategic lawsuits against public participation, or SLAPP suits. One year later, on March 7, 2019, the Attorney General announced that the "Protection of Public Participation Act" was unanimously approved and passed. David Eby said, "The new law will help BC Courts identify and stop SLAPP lawsuits targeting those who speak out on matters of public interest."In 2015, PEN Canada presented James with the inaugural PEN Canada/Ken Filkow Prize to reward her tenacity in uncovering an abuse of power, and her commitment to fostering a national conversation in the face of censorship. “James’ struggle shows what lengths the government will go to in order to suppress dissent on key policy issues,” said William Kowalski, chair of PEN Canada’s Canadian Issues Committee. “It shows what certain leaders will try to get away with when they think no one is watching, and it shows just how important one voice can be when it comes to speaking the truth.”
In 2014, James was awarded the Liberty Award for Excellence in the Arts by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association. "Franke James is the recipient of this year’s Excellence in the Arts award. James has spent years producing original artwork inspired by social and environmental justice. Her artwork and books span print, TV, radio, and online mediums in Canada, the USA, and many other parts of the world. Outspoken on environmental issues, James' works have come into conflict with the federal government – leading to the cancellation of her 20-city European art exhibition because of government interference from high-level bureaucrats. Her experiences as an artist facing muzzling and censorship by the federal government led to the publishing of her third book, Banned on the Hill, which chronicles her experience with free expression through eight “visual essays”. Her focus on environmental and social justice, and her fight for free expression, are a few of the reasons she is this year’s recipient."
Banned on the Hill, published in May 2013, is Franke James third book. Banned on the Hill won the IPPY Gold Award 2014 for Nonfiction, Canada East from the Independent Publisher Book Awards, and the IndieFab Silver Award in Ecology and Environment from the 2013 Foreword Reviews, Book of the Year Awards.
Through eight visual essays, James traces her personal journey as a citizen discovering the power of speaking out. Interviewed in the Guardian UK newspaper in May 2013, James said that she hoped the book would serve as a how-to guide to other activists hoping to fight back against government censorship, especially with humour.
ADVANCE WORD ON 'BANNED ON THE HILL'
This book makes you think, and it gets you angry. Bravo! ~ CLAYTON RUBY, C.M., B.A., LL.B., LL.M., LL.D. (honoris causa)
The Canadian government has clamped down on scientists who tell the truth about the tarsands--and it's tried to shut up artists too. Happily, Franke James is indefatigable! ~ BILL MCKIBBEN, Founder, 350.org
Franke James' commitment to art, free expression and political commentary put her in the cross-hairs of Stephen Harper's Conservatives. See what the government didn't want the world to see." ~ ELIZABETH MAY, Leader, Green Party of Canada, MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands
'Banned on the Hill' is such a feast for the eyes one could almost overlook the disturbing and sobering tale that it tells. In the battle to communicate the threat of climate change, we need all the ammunition we can muster. Franke brings it, with a deadly combination of artistic expression, verve, and wit. ~
MICHAEL E. MANN, Distinguished Professor, Penn State University and author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars
Franke James merges science, art, and storytelling to inspire people to take action and "do the hardest thing first" for the planet. She is an author, artist and game designer focused on the environment, ethics and social justice. Her interactive quiz 'How many climate deniers could you fight off?' combines humour, art, politics, and science to provoke players to take action and stand up for the planet. James is the author of two other award-winning books, Bothered By My Green Conscience and Dear Office-Politics.
Franke James is among the tiny handful of really powerful and profound artists who have taken on climate change – the most important topic on the planet, but one so big and all-encompassing that it often defies artistic interpretation. Her work is incredibly important for many of us around the world. ~ Bill McKibben, Founder 350.org
Franke James’ work is honest, powerful and funny. She has a rare ability to sweep past the polarization and complexity of critical issues and shine a stark spotlight without over simplifying. Her work is not be missed by anyone interested in climate change or the future of Canada! ~ Tzeporah Berman, Author, Co-founder ForestEthics