Photo: DSF climate team reaching out to new audiences

Dr. David Suzuki, Winnie Hwo, Francis Chan and Andy Cheung in studio at AM1320.

By Winnie Hwo, Climate Change Campaigner

The David Suzuki Foundation is committed to working with all Canadians to build a collective voice for action on climate change. Attending community events and meeting with a diverse range of stakeholders is a great way for us to share our message, learn what is happening locally, and meet the people behind some pretty inspiring initiatives. We will be profiling some of these events as part of our Race to the Top project .

Our Race to the Top Team — team lead Ian Bruce and campaigners Harpreet Johal and Winnie Hwo — have spent the past several months meeting with organizations, community groups, media outlets, and a diverse group of professionals in Metro Vancouver who are interested in our efforts to get more Canadians engaged with environmental issues and climate change.

Meeting community stakeholders is crucial for our work because not only are we trying to share our passion for the environment, we also want to know what Canadians, new and old, are doing to address climate change in their lives. In Vancouver's Lower Mainland, two community leaders took time to visit DSF 's Kitsilano office to share with us their valuable experience and knowledge on reaching out to Canada's diverse communities. And guess what? According to community activist Mo Dhaliwal and S.U.C.C.E.S.S. chair Dennis Chan, the key to successful communication is more about listening than talking.

Mo and Dennis.jpg
Harpreet Johal, Winnie Hwo, Mo Dhaliwal, Dennis Chan, Ian Bruce

Another key component of our work is reaching out to ethnic Chinese Canadians via Canada's Chinese media. The Overseas Chinese Voice is one of the two major Chinese language radio stations in Metro Vancouver. On March 12, Dr. David Suzuki was invited to share his views and knowledge on climate change and solutions with the Lower Mainland's Chinese Canadian audience on Andy Cheung's Saturday hotline show. Dr. Suzuki talked about his own background, how he became interested in the environment and what he does to walk the talk.

Andy Cheung also used the occasion to wish Dr. Suzuki a happy 75th birthday. During the first hour of the hotline show, Dr. Suzuki reminded the Chinese Canadian audience that giving up eating meat one day a week is a good start in helping the environment because livestock is a key contributor to carbon emissions. By the second hour of the show, listeners called in to tell Dr. Suzuki they got the message. Some even said they already go without meat three days a week.

The Race to the Top team also recently extended its community outreach work to the Greater Toronto District. We met with movers and shakers in Toronto's multifaceted communities and explored opportunities to engage new and young Canadians on environmental issues. The young men and women at Across U-Hub, an organization that works with Chinese youth to build leadership skills, greeted us with the warmest welcome we could expect. Our team, along with Toronto colleague Amy Hu, will be working closely with Stanley, Nicole, Dr. Eric Fong and Joseph's team at Across U-Hub starting with their City Mosaic event.

Nicole, Winnie, Dr. Eric Fong, Ian, Harpreet, Amy, Teresa; front: Melody, Stanley, Kenix and Joseph

Canada's immigrant communities have added colour and flair to our cultural mosaic. Caring for seniors is a key part of the cultural heritage of many in the Chinese Canadian community, and Dr. Joseph Wong is undoubtedly a leader in this field.

In 1987, Dr. Wong, who is trained as a family doctor, founded Yee Hong Geriatric Care Home in suburban Toronto. The facility has expanded to four major locations, providing a combined 805 beds for clients at an annual budget of $61 million.

Our team met with Dr. Wong in Yee Hong's newest facility in Scarborough to discuss ways that he can lend his passion for Yee Hong and other social justice issues to our cause — protecting the environment in the same way we care for our elders. Dr. Wong's son is already working in the environmental field in Beijing. We look forward to further collaboration with Dr. Wong and his team.

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Ian Bruce, Dr. Joseph Wong, Winnie Hwo, Harpreet Johal, Jode Roberts

These are just some of the numerous positive experiences we've had meeting with people from Metro Vancouver and Greater Toronto. We look forward to further collaboration and building toward a more sustainable future with all Canadians.

May 2, 2011

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