Climate change affects everyone, and everyone can be part of the solution. As the David Suzuki Foundation (DSF) continues its public outreach work, it keeps this simple statement in mind with the hope that more people will be inspired to take action.
DSF continues to reach out to non-traditional audiences — people we may not have spoken with in the past or groups that are not currently part of the "green" conversation. Our goal is to help more people understand the urgency to take action on climate change (both through personal and political action) and spread the word to their own networks.
As part of this work, we are reaching out to new Canadians and different cultural groups. These groups make up a significant portion of the Canadian population, and it was clear from the last federal election that they have a large political voice.
Many new Canadians also have a strong personal understanding about the importance of protecting the environment. Not only do they bring with them valuable knowledge about solutions to environmental problems, but many of their home countries are the hardest hit by climate change. Having experienced flooding, drought, heat waves and other extreme weather events, new Canadians understand the importance of taking care of our planet.
As a way to reach out to more Canadians, DSF has partnered with Progressive Intercultural Community Services, an immigrant services agency based in Surrey. Both organizations agree that more awareness and discussion on climate change is needed.
To launch this collaboration, Dr. Suzuki spoke to the South Asian community on June 16 at an event hosted by PICS at the Crown Banquet hall in Surrey. Dr. Suzuki spoke about climate change from a cultural and personal perspective, emphasizing the importance for new Canadians to share their own knowledge and experiences with environmental solutions. He spoke about how we can learn from each other's cultures, including the Indian culture, about having a better appreciation and connection with nature.
A local bhangra team, called Bhangra Beats, also showcased the traditional Punjabi folk dance. Having originated in the 11th century as a way to celebrate the harvest in Punjab, the bhangra dance linked the connection between arts, culture and the environment.
Students from Satinder Bhatia's grade 5/6 class from Surrey's Khalsa School also attended. The students gave a presentation on rural environmental practices in India, highlighting traditional rainwater harvesting, the use of cow dung as fuel and organic farming. The students concluded with a power message:
"The Earth is facing an environmental crisis. This is a fact. It's time that we learn from the wisdom of our elders, from the native lifestyle, and soak every bit of practiced wisdom from nations like India. The point to be underlined is that we need to simplify our lives, develop a more sensitive attitude toward our environment, and treat everything around us as if it has a spirit."
Harjinder Thind, host of popular Harjinder Thind Show on Red-FM 93.1, acted as moderator, taking questions and comments from South Asian community leaders on how we can work together to stop climate change. It was a diverse audience comprising teachers, arts and culture experts, doctors, lawyers, businessman, faith leaders and youth, all of whom were thrilled to be part of the climate change discussion. It was an exciting and interactive evening!
A huge thank you to Charan Gill, CEO of PICS, and his staff for hosting the event. It was a great launch to a wonderful partnership between DSF and PICS.
As a way to educate, brainstorm and implement solutions to climate change, PICS and DSF will also be rolling out a few projects:
- A 10-point campaign on how to fight climate change
- Workshops on environmental issues
- Advisory groups on how best to engage the community
DSF is also developing a Climate Leadership Council to help steer its public engagement work in Metro Vancouver, particularly with folks from diverse communities. If anyone is interested, please contact Harpreet Johal at email@example.com.