I had the good fortune to have the opportunity to go to COP 27 in Sharm El-Sheikh this year. As a volunteer and representative for the BE Initiative, and a parent who is new-ish to the climate movement, I thought it would be an incredible opportunity to immerse myself into the knowledge and culture of climate action, especially as it pertained to the participation of marginalized voices. I am grateful to the BE Initiative for facilitating my attendance there.
Photo: COP 27 People’s Plenary
As a member of For Our Kids, I started my journey in climate action from the perspective that climate action and mitigation is about protecting the future of my child and all the children of the world. The reality is that in most conversations about climate change, the voice of youth and children are a minority--if not outright excluded. But the intent of youth-led groups is to get a seat at the negotiation tables: The phrase "nothing about us without us" was mentioned in several youth-led presentations that I attended at COP 27. This phrase also holds true for other groups whose voices are overshadowed by oil companies and major polluters such as Canada (it was dispiriting to learn that the number of representatives from the oil and gas industry at COP 27 was larger than the number of any single country from the global south this year - more on this from the The Guardian here).
The reality is that the people who will be living with the effects of climate change for the next hundred years--young people (especially those in the global south and racialized communities of the north)--haven't been given much of a say in how their future will look, and haven’t had the ability to hold people like me, the older generations of polluters, accountable for our contributions to global climate change.
At COP 27, things started to feel different. Due to the years-long persistence and tenacity of youth and other marginalized groups, their voices are becoming harder for the privileged to ignore. This was embodied by an event held on the second-last day of the conference called the People’s Plenary.
Photo: Artivistnet via Twitter – Peoples Plenary march at COP, November 17
The People's Plenary was a gathering of all those whose voices are typically overlooked by the privileged climate community: youth, Indigenous Peoples, people with disabilities, women & gender non-conforming people, trade workers and environmental justice groups. Many of the speakers at the plenary were representatives of international organizations and groups representing the global south, which will continue to be the hardest hit by climate change. It was inspiring and humbling as I listened to them recount their battle cries in the quest to be heard and their right to have a seat at the negotiating tables. At the end of each speech, each speaker refrained, "We are not defeated. We will not be defeated!" And each and every time that phrase was spoken, the crowd roared, clapped, chanted and stomped their feet in support.
At the end of the plenary a march ensued through the outdoor conference area with youth and older people alike from all over the world calling for change and demanding to be heard. Yes, amid the posturing and sometimes seemingly empty words of politicians, and amid the numerous oil and gas lobbyists, COP 27 was a forum where marginalized voices were to be heard and progress for their benefit was to be made. Indeed, it seems like at COP 27, progress was made.
Negotiations amongst 200 nations ended a day longer than expected with the achievement of a milestone: major polluters agreed to create a new fund to cover the loss and damages that will be incurred by lower-income countries that are caused by climate change. How much money they will contribute to the fund remains to be seen, but it is now something more that we can hold them accountable to.
I've done some reading about conferences such as COP 27 and how we cannot view them as singular events where change either does or does not happen; instead, we should view them as a part of a larger process of negotiating and making progress over time. As an individual, when you live with the daily awareness of the monstrous task of tackling climate change, it is easy to feel overwhelmed, anxious, alone, and hopeless. I, too, have sometimes succumbed to the notion that what I do really won't do anything to stop climate change. However, what I've learned from attending COP 27 is that the first step we should take in supporting youth and other marginalized voices is to simply show up: Show up at events, marches, meetings, and webinars. Once you've done that, and keep doing that, time and time again, you will find other ways to contribute, even if it is just to continue showing solidarity with those whose voices must be heard.
The Convention on Biological Diversity’s 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) will bring together 196 countries in in Montreal, Canada, Dec 7 to 19, 2022. In preparation, parents in For Our Kids Montreal organized a Biodiversity Collage Workshop to better understand the systems leading to biodiversity collapse and brainstorm ways families can be part of the solutions.
Jennifer Smith, parent organizer in FOK-MTL shared this: "In light of the COP15 conference on biodiversity coming to Montreal and the imminent threat of biodiversity collapse, I encourage anyone who can to attend a Biodiversity Collage workshop. The Biodiversity Collage workshop really put into perspective how interconnected humans are with nature. So many human activities are derived from biodiversity, and all human activity can impact it. Participating in this workshop as a small group really allowed us to understand the relationships and come to the solutions ourselves. There is really nothing like that lightbulb moment when your group figures out together – with gentle guidance from the facilitators – how a tiny shift can ripple through a whole ecosystem and how everything is interrelated. As someone who has a background in biodiversity protection, I felt that this workshop was able to bring home some difficult-to-understand concepts in a way that could never be achieved through a textbook.
I attended with my kids, 5 and 7, and they were really engaged with seeing the relationships among the different species. For them – and for all of us really – it was similar to a cooperative board game that allowed us to see these relationships ourselves. When the workshop started to get more complex, one of the facilitators pulled out some colouring sheets that kept my kids busy while the older participants were able to tease out the more intricate relationships between human activities and biodiversity. We were able to incorporate these colouring sheets later, as they depicted some of the core concepts of the collage, and my kids seemed excited that they were able to contribute to the final solution.
We left feeling hopeful. Yes, the threat of biodiversity collapse is a huge crisis to tackle. But we can be part of the solution as individuals and collectively, pushing our governments to do more."
Participate in a Biodiversity Collage
If you'd like to attend a virtual workshop in English, you can register here and a volunteer facilitator from Biodiversity Collage will get in touch!
Put pressure on Canada to do its fair share
A major focus of COP15 will be to finalize a new plan to protect nature, called the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. It's expected to include the target of protecting 30% of the world's lands and oceans. Meeting the target will be a critical step in fighting the biodiversity loss and climate change crises. Especially since countries are falling short of previous global targets. And as the CBC recently reported, "Canada continues to struggle to meet its own biodiversity goals."
You can participate in Nature Canada's NatureBus Tour, collecting your messages of support for a plan to restore nature. And join For Our Kids, to stay informed of other ways parents are taking action and how you can join in.
We couldn't believe it when we heard that RBC's CEO Dave McKay is about to be appointed to the Order of Ontario, despite growing backlash against RBC as Canada's top funder of fossil fuels and the climate crisis.
As CEO, McKay has invested over $260 Billion in fossil fuels, funded countless projects that violate Indigenous rights and sovereignty, and come under investigation by the Competition Bureau for misleading Canadian consumers about its investment practices.
We think this is a terrible decision, and we want to let the Ontario government know before he's appointed on November 21st.
Why? Because we're living in a climate crisis, and we shouldn't be encouraging business as usual when what we need is rapid change. Instead, we should be recognizing Indigenous leaders and youth on the frontlines of climate solutions, fighting for a better future for all of us.
Engaging our political leaders is a key thing we can do for our kids. You don't need to be an export on climate science or policy to meet with your elected officials. You just have to speak from the heart, ask questions and share your concerns as a parent or grandparent. It's your super power!
Elected officials aren't used to hearing directly from parents and grandparents about climate, so your correspondence will stand out. It's also their job to connect with their constituents. So it's a great place to learn what policies exist, practice voicing our concerns and ask for accelerated climate action. You can also adapt this action to other elected officials - municipal, provincial or school-board trustees.
2. Send them a personal email or phone their office and ask to leave them a message.
You could also co-write a letter with other parents/grandparents in your riding or your For Our Kids team for a bigger impact. Template letters or scripts help make things quick, but we've heard that unique correspondence has a bigger impact.
3. It helps us to track who's taking action. CC: us on your emails or send us a scan/photo of any handwritten communication: [email protected].
Not Sure What To Say?
Here are some ideas:
- introduce yourself and your family (or group), let them know you are their constituent (living in their riding)
- if you've met formally with them before, remind them what you met about
- speak from the heart and share your concern about your kids' future
- ask them what climate actions and policy their working on
- offer to work with them on that action
- ask them how they're addressing inequity - we know that women, children, low-income and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) families are harmed most by fossil fuel pollution & climate impacts like heatwaves, extreme weather and poor air quality
- invite them to meet with you and/or a group of parents in your riding
- Send them the latest copy of the IPCC report (in case they haven't had a chance to read it yet).
- Send them a hand-written note or hand-drawn picture from your child (older kids can add their own thoughts!) to remind them of your concerns and their commitments (send us a scan/photo to [email protected] so we can share the inspiration with the network).
Most of all, let them know you're paying attention and monitoring their climate commitments.
Don't give up! MPs receive a heavy volume of correspondence, so it's likely you may not hear from them right away. Set a reminder in your calendar to follow up on a regular basis, restating all the points above. You could also include positive reinforcement if they've taken actions that show they're committed to a more sustainable and equitable future; if their actions demonstrate the opposite, point that out and let them know that's not what you expect from your elected representative.
As always, sharing your actions will inspire others to do the same, so tell your friends or share posts about it on social media, and let us know at [email protected].
Get inspired! Check out how For Our Kids teams have been engaging their MPs:
- Strengthening Bill C-12 - now Canada's Climate Accountability Act
- Working for a Just Transition from fossil fuels
- Meeting with the Minister of Climate Change and the Environment
Each action can take less than 30 minutes. Deadline: Sept. 30
1. Public consultation: Climate Risk Guidelines for Canada's Banks
Since the Paris Agreement, Canada’s Big Banks have invested over $900 billion in fossil fuels, pushing us further into climate chaos and financing projects that violate fundamental Indigenous rights. We need banks to stop funding the climate crisis and start investing in a liveable future now, but they won’t do it unless they’re forced.
That’s where Canada’s bank regulator, the OSFI, comes in. Recently, the OSFI drafted climate risk guidelines intended to make banks take climate change seriously, but the guidelines fall far short of what we need. Not only are the guidelines not binding in any way, the requirements are completely inadequate. For example, banks don’t need to define targets aligned with a 1.5˚C scenario, and there is no mention of the importance of respecting Indigenous rights.
OSFI is taking public feedback on the guidelines until Sept 30, which means, right now, we have a unique opportunity to tell them what we think! The OSFI isn’t used to getting this kind of pressure, and they’ve even started responding to some of the criticisms raised. Please take a few minutes to show them we won’t stand for weak regulations on banks!
Here's how: All you have to do is send an email explaining why these regulations should be stronger. You can use this template as is and/or adapt it to reflect your own perspective.
2. Public Consultation: Cutting emissions from the oil and gas industry
It's a well-studied and widely accepted fact that immediately and drastically reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is essential to keep global warming from going over the critical 1.5 degree mark.
The federal government has promised to cut Canada's GHG emissions 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2030. It also understands, and has stated, that the oil and gas industry in this country needs to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
Sounds pretty straightforward, doesn't it? But the path to net-zero for the industry is being blocked by the industry itself, which is claiming the targets are too much, too fast, and have been lobbying the government persistently to be more lenient (while they continue to see outrageously high profits).
This public consultation about how the government can hold the oil and gas sector accountable for meeting emission reduction targets is our chance to counteract that corporate pressure. Groups and individuals across Canada are raising their voices, and we know that together we are stronger.
Here's how: We've tried to make it as easy as possible to respond to this public consultation with this document. You can copy any of the answers, add your own thoughts, and email your response - all the info is provided in the doc.
Two ways to impact critical discussions and decisions.
Every voice counts in this discussion, so share this with your family, friends and neighbours.
We were all born into a system of white supremacy. Challenging our own implicit or explicit biases and the structures that uphold racism is a part of our work for climate justice. Climate change disproportionately impacts BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) communities and historically the environmental/climate movement has failed to listen to the needs, experiences and solutions offered by BIPOC activists. We all can work together to change that norm. Here are some ideas on how your team can get started, based on what existing teams have done in the network.
1. Dedicate time for learning together
You could organize a training or workshop for your team with an outside facilitator or organization (reminder: your team has access to funds from For Our Kids that could help cover costs). Or begin with your own reflection on white supremacy culture, its effects on the climate movement, your team, and talk about it together. Some ideas:
Learn together about the Indigenous territories you’re on: Do a circle at a team meeting, sharing what you each know about the Indigenous territories you're on. Or have a working group prepare a presentation to share at a meeting or lead a discussion. Incorporate land acknowledgements and connection to the land and its First Peoples at your events and meetings. More decolonization learning ideas here.
Make Anti-Racism action or sharing news/key learnings a part of your regular meeting agendas: for example, For Our Kids Toronto dedicates the first 15 minutes of every meeting to social justice. They start with a land acknowledgement that is given by a different group member each meeting, and that group member is responsible for making it personal to them. Following the land acknowledgement, another group member shares a new learning related to topics such as anti-racism, Indigenous issues and culture, or local food insecurity, to name a few. These brief presentations can take the form of discussing books or articles the member has read, or mentioning new BIPOC activists or organizations they have learned about.
Video Workshop on Anti-Racism: Organize a 1.5 hour meeting to watch and work through the questions posed in this workshop: You Can't Be Switzerland with Dr. Lisa Gunderson (first hour of video). End the meeting with a go around with your key learnings. Huge thanks to the Mothers Against Racism’s Race Matters Conference for making this publicly available.
Watch a short video at your meeting and discuss:
Read an article in the meeting or as homework, then discuss:
- Racism Is Killing the Planet: The ideology of white supremacy leads the way toward disposable people and a disposable natural world (6 pages)
- Why climate action must also take racial justice into account (8 pages)
- Making space for Black leaders in Canada’s climate movement (6 pages)
2. Intervene and challenge racism that you witness
As we learn more about anti-racism, it’s important to use that knowledge. If you see or hear something, say something. This includes addressing any explicit or implicit biases you notice coming up in yourself. Microaggressions, inappropriate comments or behaviors, racial jokes, denial of the marginalized experience, the centring of white people’s feelings or perspective - these are the daily experiences of many Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC).
If you benefit from the system of white supremacy, you can use your privileges to confront these different forms of racism. If you feel that someone is being targeted or ignored, let them know you’re noticing it too. Ask them how you could support them. By speaking up when we witness racism we begin to dismantle the system of white supremacy.
3. Financially support and amplify BIPOC-led campaigns, organizations and initiatives. Here are some ideas:
- Asian Pacific Environmental Network
- Assembly of 7 Generations
- Black Lives Matter Canada
- Black Environmental Initiative
- Canadian Coalition for Environmental and Climate Justice
- Council of Agencies Serving South Asians
- Foundation for Black Communities
- Indigenous Climate Action
- Indian Residential School Survivors Society
- Migrant Rights Network
- Moms Against Racism
- Pay Your Rent
You can also research what BIPOC-led groups are leading locally where you are. You could:
- organize a fundraiser to make a group donation
- support and promote their initiatives & campaigns online and show up to their actions and events in person
- don’t try to recruit them to join your For Our Kids team - introduce your team and let them know you’re there to help if they need support
Know other organizations? Or have other ideas for anti-racist action that the For Our Kids network could take?
Let us know: [email protected].
You can also check out more ideas from our post for families not yet in teams: 5 Ways to Challenge Racism.
This powerful op-ed piece by a parent from the For Our Kids Toronto team ran in the National Observer on Sept. 14.
"As a parent, I won’t stop pushing for change, and I’ll be there to support youth in the street, in the courthouse, and anywhere else I’m needed. This is a battle for future generations. We all have a role to play."
Our work for climate justice includes addressing racism, as climate change disproportionately impacts BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) communities. We want a safer world for all our kids. We hope the ideas below are a helpful place to start. Get in touch if you need support or to share more action ideas: [email protected]
1. Start with yourself
By learning and being more aware we can help our families and communities learn too. Watch this 4-min intro: How to raise an anti-racist child (CBC).
2. Learn about the Indigenous land you’re on
Indigenous peoples have cared for the land, waters and all living things since time immemorial. We need Indigenous knowledge and solutions to counter the climate crisis. Ongoing colonization means their cultures are under threat. Find out more about the Indigenous land you’re on: native-land.ca. Learn more about land acknowledgements and beyond.
Research together and talk about this with the kids in your life. Here are some initial questions you could explore:
- What and whose territories are you on? How do Indigenous peoples refer to the place where you live, how is it pronounced?
- What languages are spoken?
- What Indigenous laws or treaties exist?
- What are Indigenous teachings on land stewardship and maintaining relationships with other-than-human beings?
- What are some things we can do to become stewards of the land?
3. Talk to your kids about race
Library check-up: The stories our kids are exposed to matter. Does your home library or your child’s school library include a number of books that feature Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC)? Talk with your school librarian about adding books that showcase a wide variety of people, so that BIPOC kids can see themselves in these stories. If your school has a limited budget, organize a book drive or fundraiser and get those books on shelves!
- Moms Against Racism provides Diverse Book Baskets - you can purchase for yourself, your school or donate to support a book basket delivery to schools in need.
- Check out Parents for Diversity’s Diversity Library catalog.
- Check out the @booksfordiversity instagram account for some ideas of cool books.
4. Financially support anti-racist organizations and movements. Follow their news and show up for their actions and events. For example:
- Asian Pacific Environmental Network
- Assembly of 7 Generations
- Black Lives Matter Canada
- Black Environmental Initiative
- Canadian Coalition for Environmental and Climate Justice
- Council of Agencies Serving South Asians
- Foundation for Black Communities
- Indigenous Climate Action
- Indian Residential School Survivors Society
- Migrant Rights Network
- Moms Against Racism
- Pay Your Rent
Research local organizations near you working on racial justice and support them. Let us know who we should add to this list: [email protected]
5. Connect and learn with others
Collective learning, reflection and action is important to deepen our understanding and stay dedicated. Here are some ways to connect with other families for accountability and support:
- Join Moms Against Racism (Canada)
- Join or start a For Our Kids team to connect with others locally.
- Start a conversation or organize an event for your school community.
- If you’re white, consider following resources from Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ)
- See our list here, of free online courses to learn about decolonization
Gather some friends and watch or read and then discuss these resources:
- Racism Is Killing the Planet: The ideology of white supremacy leads the way toward disposable people and a disposable natural world
- Talking to Young Children About Race and Racism
- What systemic racism in Canada looks like (10 min)
- How to be anti-racist: it’s more than books, quotes and Blackout Tuesday (5 min)
- Moms Against Racism (Canada): Revolutionary Mothering | Dr. Lisa Gunderson | One Love Consulting (25 min)
- Dad Central (Canada): Dads and talking to your kids about racism (1hour)
- Colour Code: A Podcast About Race in Canada
- Good Ancestor Podcast with Layla F. Saad
- Anti-Racism podcast list for more ideas
By: France Duquette (Mères au front Montréal) & Jenna Web (Mères au front - Rosemère et les environs)
Photo Credits to: Isabelle Michauld, Julie Durocher.
On Mother's Day, the Mères au front (Mothers step in) movement, created to hold decision makers accountable for their (non)actions on climate, and the organization Ma place au travail (My place at work), created to deal with the lack of places in educational daycare services, organized a massive gathering in Quebec City. Thousands of mothers and grandmothers from 13 different Quebec regions accompanied by their children, families and allies marched towards Quebec’s National Assembly. Driven by love for their children, they came to celebrate Mother's Day in a different way: "We don't want flowers or chocolate, but the political courage to face the greatest threat of our time: the climate and social crises."
As early as its creation in 2020, Mothers step in had considered the idea of a large gathering. The pandemic turned this plan on its head and it was not until two years later that the project was finally able to come to fruition. In March 2022 the conditions finally looked conducive to our original idea and the decision was made to go ahead with the march; we barely had two months to organize everything. From the start, we knew we wanted to go to the National Assembly of Quebec, especially since there will be provincial elections on October 3rd.
Mothers step in and My place at work felt it was strategic to their demands to the Legault government choosing one each:
- Adopt a framework law that obliges the government to scrutinize all its decisions for their impact on the environment and social equity.
- The legal recognition of the right of toddlers to receive an affordable educational service of quality so that parents can return to work if they so choose.
As soon as the idea was launched, the enthusiasm was palpable. It was clear that mothers, families and their allies needed to meet together and express themselves in the public sphere. The pandemic had prevented us from this critical exercise in democracy for too long. We also needed to march because of the rapid growth and scale of the environmental crisis and social justice.
Mothers step in has used art to convey its messages since its creation. It is therefore not surprising that the artistic aspect of this march was as important as the political ones. We are lucky that one of the co-founders of the movement, Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, a very talented movie director and novelist, was able to mobilize the artistic area and has been able to mobilize in a very short time an impressive number of artists from different backgrounds in a very short time. The event was conceptualized and articulated by combining different artistic components (the moving forest, the body cry, poetry) with powerful speeches and messages.
The organization of the Bread and Forest Walk was full of challenges. The first was to align the objectives and visions of two movements, Mothers step in and My Place at Work. One thing is certain, we knew from the start that despite the inherent challenge of bringing together two movements that had never worked together, there were obvious links in our common struggles: the precariousness of mothers caused by the lack of available spaces in daycare facilities and the environmental crisis.
The second challenge was undoubtedly the short period of time to organize such an event, including securing funds to provide transportation for the participants. Along the way, we had no choice but to drop several ideas and focus on the strongest ones to maximize their impact and their feasibility.
Despite the obstacles and challenges, we owe the success of the march to a number of things: an efficient and centralized coordination, access to qualified people experienced in the organization of such events, over 100 volunteers, significant media coverage (especially the week preceding the march) and above all, the eagerness of mothers and their allies to come together and to express loudly and clearly their love for their children and their unwavering intention not to give up in the face of the lack of sense urgency among our elected officials.
We came together, five thousand strong, for a beautiful Sunday on Mother’s Day. These thousands of sparks will undoubtedly ignite others. This march is only the beginning!
Seasonal Family Climate Actions: Get involved from wherever you are and on your own timeline. We hope you and your family will join in around your kitchen table, or with friends or neighbours. You’ll be acting with hopeful families across the country and making a difference. Make sure you're signed-up here for updates.
Your mission for this summer, should you choose to accept it, is to insert the words "I'm curious ..." and "climate" into one or more conversations sometime this summer.
Here's an example:
You run into a neighbour at the park or grocery store, and you both start talking about the weather. When it feels natural, you say something like: "I'm curious ... do you feel that changes in the climate are impacting your life, apart from the weather?"
Or: "I'm curious ... do you think the weather is getting more extreme because of climate change?"
The challenge is to keep your mind open and really listen to what the other person is saying. Turn on your active listening skills and pick up on verbal and non-verbal clues to keep the conversation going. Keep the focus on them by asking questions and being genuinely interested in their perspective.
Above all, hold yourself back from sharing everything you know
about climate change and its impacts.
For many people, hearing someone talk about "climate change" doesn't always lead to healthy or productive action or changed mindsets. While some people are motivated by what they learn from reliable sources and what they see and hear for themselves, others may not be so sure. And for substantial change to happen, a substantial portion of the population needs to be engaged. Not necessarily to agree, but to be engaged.
Listening to what others are proud of, would like to see more of, are worried about or are unsure of is a step toward finding common ground and making a connection. And connection is what changes attitudes and mindsets over time. Not alienation.
Share your story - and enter our prize draw!
We'd love to hear how your conversation went, and what you learned. As a thank you for sharing your story with us, we'll enter your name in a draw to win one of three awesome book prizes!
After your conversation, take a minute to capture your curious climate conversation with a couple of notes, maybe a photo or drawing of what happened, what surprised you, and whether you found any common ground with your conversation partner. If you like, you can use this form as a prompt, as well as a way to capture your thoughts.
Then, share what happened with us using this Google Form. You'll automatically be entered in the draw. Every conversation submitted earns you one entry, so more conversations = more chances to learn and win.
We'll share insights and resources from this activity to keep the conversation about climate conversations going.
Questions or ideas? You can find us at [email protected]
Good luck, and safe summer days!
Brianne Whyte (For Our Kids Toronto), Natalie Caine (For Our Kids national support team), Vanessa Brown (FOK-Toronto), Anne Keary (FOK-Toronto) deliver a copy of What We Love to Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland's office and staff on June 30.
Parents, grandparents, kids and families from across the For Our Kids network committed to learning about the Indigenous territories they live on this Spring, and contributed to a heartfelt collection of photos and artwork about nature, what they love and want to protect. The submissions were compiled and published in a new book called What We Love.
The book sets those images to a poem about loving the planet and understanding our responsibility to respect, appreciate, and nurture the land and water for future generations. Check it out here or in our video version:
The book was hand-delivered to Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland's office today, and will find its way to the offices of many more political leaders over the next few months. The mothers delivering the book requested a reaction video, as well as a follow-up meeting with the Minister to discuss an end to colonial violence in Canada, transitioning our economy away from fossil fuels and financing a just transition.
What We Love carries a message of urgency and action to decision-makers at every level, in a physical form that they can hold; a reminder that the power to protect what we love is in their hands.
Read more in For Our Kids' media release here.
See a digital version of the book here.
For Our Kids is a coalition partner in the Fossil Fuel Ad-Ban Campaign. Fossil fuel air pollution causes up to 34,000 premature deaths in Canada each year. Even though there is clear evidence, fossil fuel companies continue to lie to us about the known dangers of their products.
It's reminiscent of the fight to control tobacco advertising. In 1965, 50% of Canadian adults smoked. Smoking was not restricted in any public space, and rates of lung cancer increased substantially. Addressing cigarette smoke as a major public health threat raised awareness of the dangers, for smokers and non-smokers alike. Thankfully now only 15% of Canadians are smoking. We have healthier environments, particularly for children.
A ban on fossil fuel ad campaigns could have the same result.
👉Individuals or For Our Kids teams can sign our open letter to Federal Ministers here. 👈
And make sure to join the For Our Kids network to stay informed of what parents, grandparents and caregivers can do as the campaign develops.
Help us call for:
Demand #1: A comprehensive ban on advertising by fossil fuel industries, products, and services (such as gasoline and gas utilities) and internal combustion engine vehicles.
Demand #2: A robust regulatory response to address misleading environmental claims by fossil fuel companies.
Demand #3: Regulations mandating the disclosure of the health and environmental risks associated with fossil fuel production and use.
More info: stopfossilfuelads.ca
Moms in the For Our Kids network are profiled in this inspiring look at why mothers' voices and actions are powerful tools to call for change.
Why Mothers hold untapped power in the climate fight, The Weather Network, May 8, 2022
Who are the parents, grandparents, and guardians that make up the For Our Kids network? Here's a profile of one of the members of Pour Nos Enfants/For Our Kids Montréal.
For Jennifer Smith, climate action is a family affair, National Observer, May 9, 2022
For Our Kids Toronto and For Our Kids national are thrilled to share that we’ve been granted intervenor status in the youth-led climate lawsuit Mathur et. al. v. Her Majesty in Right of Ontario. Arguments will be read Sept. 12-14.
Seven young Ontarians began a legal challenge of the Ontario government's weak emissions-reductions target in 2018, and the case is still before the court as the government attempts to have it dismissed.
The intervenor status was granted to For Our Kids along with the Assembly of First Nations, Indigenous Climate Action, Friends of the Earth, Asper Centre, and Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE).
Read and share the news release from EcoJustice, June 28, 2022
Read National Observer's coverage of the case, May 12 2022 and its coverage of the decision on intervenors June 28, 2022
Have you heard about the K-12 learning resources developed by Fortis BC and marketed to teachers across BC? Fortis calls its program Energy Leaders, and it presents natural gas as a necessary and harmless energy source, without mentioning any of the negative health or environmental impacts that come from burning fossil fuels.
Here are just a few examples.
What's the problem?
There is a clear self-serving interest in fossil fuel companies providing learning resources to schools, especially as part of a science curriculum.
In this case, Fortis BC marketed its material directly to teachers via email, in an attractive, ready-to-use form that would appeal to teachers facing multiple challenges in delivering lessons during the pandemic. There is nothing illegal in what Fortis has done, because learning resources don't have to be approved by school boards or the Ministry of Education. But should large corporations who have resources beyond those of most school districts be taking advantage of circumstances like the pandemic to promote their products?
And should an energy company be promoting and normalizing the use of fossil fuels through an education curriculum, in spite of overwhelming evidence of the direct connection between greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and global warming driving climate change, particularly in BC, where communities experienced deadly heat domes, wildfires and flooding over the past year alone?
This issue was raised by Dogwood and Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), who joined forces to bring this to the attention of parents and school boards. Presentations have been made to school boards in Victoria, Vancouver and Sooke, and CAPE started an open letter to the Minister of Education in BC. You can read more about CAPE's campaign in this article.
Dogwood and CAPE also recently co-hosted an information session for parents with For Our Kids: you can view the recording here.
While the school boards are still considering what action they will take, the Greater Victoria Teachers' Association recently passed a motion not to use the Fortis BC learning resources.
Meanwhile, Fortis has temporarily taken the Energy Leaders program off its website, with this message:
At this time Energy Leaders is temporarily unavailable as we conduct our annual review of the lesson plans and supporting materials to ensure they provide relevant and balanced information. Please check back at the start of the fall 2022/23 school year.
What can parents do?
Inform your school board trustees
Although school boards do not need to approve learning resources for use within their district schools, they do have the authority to determine whether those resources are appropriate and how they are chosen, as well as the responsibility for recommending learning resources for their district schools.
Parents have a direct connection with their local school boards: school trustees are elected representatives of the community and accountable to the community. So it makes sense for parents to raise this issue with their local school board and request them to:
act on their authority to determine whether the Fortis BC learning resources are appropriate and should be used by schools in the district,
inform the Minister of Education of their concerns about the learning resources, and
ensure that teachers in the district have access to science-based curriculum resources
For Our Kids, CAPE and Dogwood will provide resources and support you in contacting and presenting to your school board: email us at [email protected]
Email BC's Minister of Education and Child Care
You can use CAPE's letter as a template to create your own, letting the minister know why you're concerned about industry and corporate influence in schools. Email Minister Jennifer Whiteside at: [email protected] You can also copy your MLA (find contact information here) and your school board.
Share with your network and get a conversation going!
It's a challenge for parents to keep up with everything that's happening at their kids' schools, but this is an example of why it matters, and an opportunity to start a conversation about what students are learning about climate change.
Teams across the For Our Kids network have been involved in creative campaigns to push for swift and expansive Just Transition legislation from the Canadian government. As part of those efforts, teams have also banned together to make a formal submission to the Ministry of Natural Resources Just Transition consultation process.
For Our Kids Alberta, For Our Kids Burnaby, For Our Kids Cowichan, Pour Nos Enfants / For Our Kids Montréal, For Our Kids Nanaimo-Ladysmith, and Parents for Climate Victoria co-wrote a joint submission to represent parents across the country. An excerpt:
Dear Natural Resources Canada,
We are teams in the national For Our Kids network, comprised of parent-led, community-based grassroots groups involved in climate action. We represent parents, guardians, grandparents, and kids in our communities and across the country, and we’re submitting joint feedback on your Just Transition consultation process. Canada is already late legislating a just transition. Our families – our kids – deserve better.
We know the Just Transition Act is a key part of our transition away from a fossil fuel–based economy, into one that puts Indigenous Peoples, workers, the environment, our communities and our kids first. Though promised back in 2019, this legislation is moving way too slowly, which indicates that the Liberal government is not listening to what Indigenous knowledge and science is telling us. Your actions do not align with what Canada needs to do to ensure a livable planet for our kids.
Getting this legislation right and passing it quickly is one of the most important tasks of your government. It will mean the difference between a Canada our kids can thrive in, or a world filled with suffering. See photos below of our families and our public actions to support Just Transition Legislation, as a reminder of our commitment to create a better world for all our kids. But we can’t do this alone. We need you to take the action this crisis requires. Create a new Ministry of Just Transition and enact the bold and inspiring transition our kids and all future generations need.
The parents, guardians, grandparents and kids of: For Our Kids Alberta, For Our Kids Burnaby, For Our Kids Cowichan, Pour Nos Enfants / For Our Kids Montréal, For Our Kids Nanaimo-Ladysmith, Parents for Climate Victoria.
Check out the full submission here.
Interested to get involved in the For Our Kids network? Join us here!
Across Turtle Island mothers are leading a movement of parents taking increased climate action. You could hear their fierce and powerful voices across Canada for Mother's Day.
Marching for Bread and Forests (and climate justice) in Québec
In Québec City, the network Mothers Step In (Mères au front) mobilized 10,000 families to the streets for a march for Bread and Forests. Children sang to Prime Minister François Legault to the tune of "Frère Jacques", outside the National Assembly. Asking "are you sleeping?", while demanding climate and social justice.
Teams in the For Our Kids network were also making headlines in mainstream media:
- For Jennifer Smith, climate action is a family affair (National Observer)
- Why mothers hold untapped power in the climate fight (Weather Network)
- What we want for Mother's Day: Happy, healthy kids, and a livable future for them (The Province)
And thanks to all the families that took part in our Give a gift of Climate Action for Mother's Day campaign, we hope you all enjoyed your gifts.
Here are a few "evergreen" ideas for teams that aren't bound by a certain time or deadline, could be tactics brought to multiple issues, help bring a group of people together, and/or have been successes in other For Our Kids teams.
If you have a great "evergreen" idea for a For Our Kids team, please suggest it here!
Looking for ideas for your team or group to take on? You can always check out our current actions on the take action page.
“Actions speak louder than words” is something mothers say a lot. This Mother’s Day, we want Moms to take the day off and be treated to actions that really do speak louder than words. If you're a Mom, all you have to do is pass on this link to your family.
For those looking for a Mother's Day gift, we’ve made it easy for you: pick one of the gifts below, then go to this page, enter all the details and submit your pledge. The real gift will be when you carry out your action, so make sure to plan what you'll do, and when!
Ten gifts you can give a Mom for Mother's Day.
- The gourmet meal: I will cook 5 meat-free dinners this month and share photos to inspire others.
- Money talks: I will make the time to research my personal investments and pension plan to find out if I am investing in fossil fuels (support given here, and here), and make a plan for divestment if need be.
- Snuggle up: I will look into what is involved in getting a heat pump so we can save some energy at home (lots of learning events and resources available).
- Take a trip: I will go for a ride on public transit with the kids and take a selfie or make a video to share and promote transit.
- Better than a bunch of flowers: I will take part in For Our Kids’ Spring Family Climate Action with the kids - connecting to nature, making art and sending it to us to share with decision-makers *note the deadline for this is April 30.
- Help with cleaning.. our transport: I will ask our school board and my provincial representative how we can get more Electric School buses on the road and sign-up here to give support to make it happen.
- Taking time to listen: I will go to work one day with a sign pinned to my shirt saying ‘let’s talk about climate change’ (some tips here, and here).
- A love letter for the future: I will write to my local MP in support of a Just Transition or support a campaign like this one.
- A special conversation: I will join the next For Our Kids welcome call and find out more about climate organising.
- The ultimate date night: I will promise to join you on your next climate action, or we can go together for the first time.
We hope you have some fun with this, and we can't wait to see these gifts in action! Please share photos of your actions with us. You can submit them through our form here, or if you don't have a Google account email them to: [email protected].
Remember - this is the page to sign up for your gift. Thanks for taking part - this is going to be a great gift!