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March 9, 2020
Sierra Club BC welcomes our new Youth Advisor, Rebecca Wolf Gage. Rebecca is a 13-year-old youth climate strike organizer living on Lekwungen territory. She is also one of four teenagers taking the federal government to court on the grounds that the decision to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline directly violates the rights of young Canadians by refusing to consider the extreme climate change impacts of the pipeline on youth. Our team is excited to be working with and learning from Rebecca. We have reprinted here a speech Rebecca gave at a climate strike on May 3, 2019.
Hello. My name is Rebecca Wolf Gage. I am the founder and one of the organizers of the Victoria youth climate strike.
Lucky. Lucky is an interesting concept. If you win the lottery you are considered lucky, but can you be lucky without buying a lottery ticket? Can you be lucky even without thinking about it? You might not think you’re lucky, but sometimes you don’t know how lucky you are until your luck ends. If you win one lottery, you’re not automatically entitled to winning the next.
The same is true for almost any situation luck may place you in, such as if an ice cream truck is headed your way, or if you see a whale when you’re going out whale watching, and even if your home will be flooded next spring, or if you will be evacuated in the summer because of the fires.
Will your house burn down? You don’t know; it’s all up to luck.
Our neighbours on the mainland, even some on the Island, are dying from fires in the summer. Their homes and possessions are being destroyed in the boiling heat. In the spring, their houses are being flooded. They’re scooping water out of their houses and putting sandbags on the exterior of their property, wishing the floods would dry up, but dreading fires in the summer. Today, there are both floods and fires in Canada.
Our neighbors are dying from climate change and what does Trump say? Climate change is a hoax!? What does Trudeau say!? Let’s buy a pipeline!?
The Canadian government seems very happy with themselves; they’ve discovered that our generation will suffer from the impacts of climate change. Finally—they finally figured out what we have been telling them for so long! But instead of doing what we’re asking them to—save our future, meet Canada’s climate goals, stop the pipeline—they say okay, we’ll reimburse the parents for the harm we’re causing the youths’ future. We’ll pay the youths’ parents!
Apparently they’re missing the point. Climate change isn’t just something that’s killing polar bears. It affects us here, now. We are extremely lucky only to have smoke in the summer and a few rainstorms here and now. It’s not enough to just pay our parents! The Canadian government doesn’t really have anything they should worry about; the temperature is increasing, that’s the only thing that’s going wrong! But with the temperature increase we’ll have many more fires, storms, droughts and disasters! We won’t be lucky anymore.
I asked my dad if he thought we’d be evacuated in the summer. His answer was no. There would be nowhere to evacuate us to. This made me think: we don’t have any options if Victoria gets like the rest of the world because there’s no other safe place. We need to act now! Because we need a future.
I won’t allow my kids to ask what nature was, because my government didn’t have enough sympathy and compassion to save it.
Featured image by Ian Crawford
Rebecca Gunn Hansen is a youth leader. Rebecca took part in Sierra Club BC’s Youth Environmental Leadership Program (YELP). For many years, YELP provided a space for powerful and transformative youth learning on environmental issues.
September 20 to 27
In communities around the world
From September 20 to 27, youth across the globe are rising up for climate justice. And they are asking everyone (including adults) to join them for the biggest worldwide climate strike we’ve seen yet.
For the past year, we’ve been so inspired by the millions of students who have taken to the streets to demand governments take real action on climate change. But cheering them on from the sidelines isn’t enough. To achieve the needed level of change it will take all of us acting alongside students in solidarity.
We’re in. Are you?
Join the Week of Action!
Around the world: Find a climate strike in your community or sign up to organize one.
If you’re in Vancouver and you’d like to support the students by being a peace-bearer and ensuring safety, please contact our Lead Organizer Galen Armstrong at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
In Greater Victoria: Check out this exciting list of events for the Week of Action.
If you’re in Victoria, you can meet with other Sierra Club BC supporters at the fountain in front of the legislature at 11:30AM on Friday.
Watch our webinar: The world’s forests are in crisis, hit by the double whammy of climate change and ongoing human destruction. Despite the negative trends, they continue to help us stave off even worse impacts of climate change by absorbing a large amount of our carbon emissions and protecting communities to some degree from flooding, droughts and fires. But how much longer can forests withstand these pressures?
Join our Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner Jens Wieting to find out what BC and Canada need to do to protect forests and inspire global action. Learn how to support Sierra Club BC’s campaign to save the last old-growth forests before it’s too late.
Want to do even more? Here are 5 important actions you can take:
- Show up!!
- Talk to your friends, neighbours, coworkers and family – and your kids’ teachers – about why the strikes are happening, why you support the youth, and how they can get involved.
- Join the social media storm – use the hashtags #GlobalClimateStrike, #EarthStrike, #FridaysForFuture and #ClimateStrike. Find sample posts, graphics, videos and other content you can share here
- Contribute. Offer your skills as a volunteer (while being mindful that this is about standing behind youth leaders), get your friends together to make creative climate protest signs and art to bring to events, or organize your workplace to do a solidarity action together.
- Talk climate with federal election candidates and encourage everyone to vote. Let’s build on this week of actions to demand bold, unprecedented climate commitments from all parties. At climate strike events, remind everyone to make sure they’re registered and to vote on October 21.
Are you ready to link up with actions in your community?
These young leaders are taking matters into their own hands to secure a livable future for themselves. By joining the climate strike we can show them that we adults care about their future also. And it might just feel good too!
All the news lately about wildfires, floods, hurricanes and other worsening climate impacts is hard to take alone. Getting out in the streets with millions of others reminds us that we’re not alone. There’s a massive and growing community of people committed to transforming our economies in a way that works for us all – workers, youth, families, immigrants, Indigenous peoples – everyone.
By Sierra Club BC Environmental Educator Kirsten Dallimore
There are two worlds: the modern world of science and technology, and the ancient world where we use our wild instincts to survive and understand what is happening around us. In our modern world, many of us have lost the deep nature connection our ancestors had. It’s time to ignite our wild instincts once again.
In his book Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv wrote about nature deficit disorder. Louv expresses concern about our quality of life in the modern world on all levels—emotional, spiritual, mental, physical, cultural, and ecological. We are starting to understand that nature is fundamental to our overall well-being—and so we should all be getting some daily Vitamin (N)ature.
However, in our busy modern lives, it is difficult to fully understand that deep nature connection is more than just a walk in the forest. Although this is a start, a deep nature connection must take place over the long term. Deep nature connection is about how we humans connect to nature, to other people, and to ourselves. It is about the knowledge and connection to place that is ingrained into a culture.
Deep nature connection is not on the radar for many of us because we don’t actively learn it from a young age. So how can we humans living in the modern world integrate a deep nature connection into our lives and our children’s lives through education?
Coyote mentoring is a unique educational approach that has been developed over the past 25 years by Jon Young at the Wilderness Awareness School in Washington State. It uses children’s passion and excitement for nature as a catalyst to actively engage them in their learning process. Deep nature connection through coyote mentoring is an approach I have started to incorporate into my nature teachings at Sierra Club BC.
Deep nature connection through coyote mentoring is full of storytelling and music. It follows a child’s passion, incites awareness, and follows a natural cycle. Experimentation and play encourage adventure and fun. Children stretch their curiosity to the edge of nature learning—and through this comes healing and empowerment.
When there is a bird or an animal in the forest, do you hear it? Do you see it? Or are you too distracted and disconnected by the modern world to even notice it? Do you know what is happening around you? Are we so disconnected in the modern world that we are missing out on the natural things that surround us in our lives?
Coyote mentoring calls on us to stretch our awareness and become trained to see what is happening all around us each time we are in nature. As a mentor, my role is to help train kids how to listen and observe nature. I provide them with the support they need to break from old habits and create a fresh awareness about nature.
As Jon Young explains, our ecological footprint tells us we can’t afford not to be aware of things that are happening around us in nature. It’s quite simple: if people don’t connect with nature, they won’t love it. If they don’t love it, then they likely won’t support conservation efforts. If we don’t have a population of people who care about the earth, then we don’t have the capacity to create change.
Coyote mentoring is a journey of self-knowledge and a bond between humans and nature. We meet people where they are on their journey. When my students are afraid of experiencing something in nature, I do not push them. I wait until they are ready to explore. Kinship with the land must be established first—then first-hand experiences with the natural world will happen. People break out of their comfort zones and old habits and begin to have a fresh awareness.
Much happens below the surface through this type of mentoring. This is called the invisible school. The invisible school is a place where mentors pass on knowledge and provide a place for deep connection. It enables that connection to become ingrained into a culture to the point where people connect with nature without even thinking about it.
Deep nature connection was a feature of ancient societies for thousands of years. It can still take place in our modern world. I believe this journey is a very valuable one if we want to see a bright, healthy future in our modern world.
Recommended resources on deep nature connection:
Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv
Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature by Jon Young, Evan McGown and Ellen Haas