Earth Day: once an annual celebration of the Earth and general environmental awareness raising event, now a global day of action and reflection nestled amongst the other 364 days of the year also dedicated towards climate action - just without the title. However, the dedicated, globally-celebrated titled event does allow for widespread participation in honouring the Earth and reflecting upon our (in)harmonious relationship with it. At a time when our emissions and pollution continue to grow, and biodiverse regions continue to be sold and developed upon, a day to call us all to action is just what we need.
While local groups and organizations do this work every day, Earth Day offers a chance to expand networks, spurring people into action and inviting more people to get involved in climate initiatives. Someone who may usually be unable to attend events throughout the year may feel compelled to go to an Earth Day event, finding themselves surrounded by environmentally-conscious, like-minded people to grow their community and possibly lead to further action.
Across the country, many of our Community Climate Hubs took the day (or week!) to plan events that served to activate their communities around climate action and take better care of our planet. On the West Coast, we had the Okanagan Climate Hub take the lead in organizing a week of climate initiatives and speaker events. On the East Coast, the Saint John Hub (Saint John Climate Action) held an organizing meeting, chaired by our Regional Engagement Coordinator Ashley, discussing how to create better engagement channels with the city in order to ensure all voices are heard. And in Québec, there were parades and marches from Rimouski to Sherbrooke to Montreal to Québec City, supported by our Regional Engagement Coordinator Jamie. These regions and Hubs all took Earth Day as an opportunity to mobilize their local areas towards building stronger and more resilient communities.
Okanagan Climate Hub’s Climate Week
When the Okanagan Climate Hub’s leader, Tracey Davis, realized that there were no climate events happening around Earth Day in the Kelowna region, she decided to take matters into her own hands. Inspired by other climate groups up and down the Okanagan Valley, Tracey was empowered to organize her first set of events called LOVE KELOWNA including a Dynamic Speaker Series - which took place each day leading up to Earth Day - and putting together a celebration of trees and a scavenger hunt event on the day itself.
"Although it was exhausting to put together a full week of events, especially being my first time organizing events, it was worth it because there were new faces at the events, and the lunchtime Speaker events went over time because there was so much engagement and interesting questions," remarks Tracey. She also notes that "there is obviously a thirst for listening to local speakers," on the variety of sustainability topics covered throughout the week.
Collaborating and amplifying many local organizers and groups (such as Sylix knowledge keepers, Fridays for Future Kelowna, Kelowna Tree Protectors and Better World Club), Tracey and the Okanagan Climate Hub were able to successfully lead a week of fantastic events in her community - potentially setting the course for an annual event!
Photo credits: Okanagan Climate Hub
Saint John Climate Action/Hub’s Earth Day Meeting
After a few months of regular meetings, the Saint John Climate Action local Hub decided to meet on Earth Day for their April meeting. “After members wrapped up [Earth Day] community clean ups, they were able to come together at the local library fresh from their community action and bring for ideas on how to affect change, accelerate climate action and ensure social justice is taking place along the way,” Ashley Anthony, the Atlantic Regional Organizer at The Climate Reality Project Canada, explains. Ashley is looking forward to planning a regional launch of the National Climate League in the weeks to come to other social justice and environmental groups in the city, “hoping to inspire transparent and collaborative conversation and create a community action plan aimed at keeping elected officials accountable and inciting a cultural change within the city to adopt sustainability and address climate change.”
Photo credits: Ashley Anthony
Quebec's Many Marches
For weeks prior, Regional Engagement Coordinator for Quebec Jamie Latvaitis worked hard to support the organization of Earth Day actions across Quebec. For many, planning a variety of actions like marches or parades helps to “build a sense of community that is much needed for us to keep fighting,” Jamie remarks. He continues:
“These events don’t happen on their own: it takes planning, leadership, time and strategy. Beyond regenerating hope for all generations, these events test our ability to organize. The results this year show that the community is massive, effective and spread out across the province. Networks like that have the potential to change society for good. So what are we waiting for?”
Photo credits: Jamie Latvaitis
Indeed, what are we waiting for?! As Earth Day activities come to an end, it is up to us to ensure that the day is not exceptional: that we continue to commit to climate action and reflect upon, and most importantly, improve our relationship to the Earth every day, and not just one day a year. May we emerge from this long winter energized by the events of Earth Day, and bring forth lasting energy and commitment to action each day for the rest of the year!