A summit is defined as "a meeting between heads of government," yet Canada brought neither our Prime Minister nor a desire for change to Rio +20. The world went into this conference with high expectations and goals, encouraged by the motivational speeches and promises of the last World Summit two decades ago. The feelings of disappointment and fear are strongly resonating with me — disappointment in Canada and fear for my future.
The more I learn about climate change, the world and my role in it all, the more I find myself hoping and searching for ways to stop this crisis and repair the damage. I'm dreaming of a time when all people — no matter the country, age, gender or race — can come together with the common goal of saving our planet.
At the beginning of the Rio +20 Summit, I rewatched Severn Cullis-Suzuki's inspirational speech to the 1992 summit at the young age of twelve, and rather than feeling inspired as I normally would, I was frustrated. Twenty years ago, Severn was fighting for her future, begging the world to listen to her pleas and change their ways. And now, 20 years later, I find myself fighting for mine. The climate changes that are occurring now are enough to make me seek answers and help, but I worry it will take a hurricane in their backyard for Canadian officials to realize the urgency.
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The economic balance of the world seems to be the only concern of our government at this time; our leaders show little regard for their country's children, their planet, or the people starving on the street. I most definitely do not have all the answers to fix these issues, but I do know that something has to be done. Now is the time for us to take responsibility for what we are doing and start making changes. Canada needs to commit to something, to anything beneficial to the world and its citizens for the long-term.
Being Musqueam, I know firsthand the full impact of poverty on people's lives as I see it every day. I watch my family, my friends and friends I have not yet met struggle with their lives, and I cannot grasp Canada's opposition to eliminating poverty. I am fortunate enough to have a home, family, hot meals and the luxury of living a comfortable life. But for basic necessities such as these to be denied to Canadians because of Canada's lack of commitment is appalling and embarrassing. We children are the key to the future, and I know that every person has a child dear to them in their lives. Just think: not only are some children poor and starving in the short term, but in the long term they may not even know what snow is.
The goals of the Rio +20 Summit were to fix the environmental and social crises, so why was Canada reducing and watering down problems and not resolving them? The reality is, we need to change our ways and the only way that we can is for Canada to take action and commit to saving our future.
As you get into your nice warm bed tonight, I ask you to think about your future, your children's futures and the futures of the less fortunate. We are running out of time. Twenty years have flown by since the first Rio Summit and I am scared. Please Canada, do something that we can be proud of to rescue our Mother Earth.