Parenting never stops, right? This year, parents, grandparents and caregivers across the For Our Kids network didn't stop marching, planting, writing, calling, posting, and raising their voices for their kids - and having a major impact.
Here are some highlights.
Stepping on to the federal stage
The year began with a concentrated focus on Bill C-12, Canada's first Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act. The draft bill didn't move quickly enough or set emissions targets low enough for parents, so teams across the country met with their MPs, wrote op-eds and letters to the editor, and told the committee reviewing the Bill what they wanted, in written submissions and in person.
Impact: they were quoted during debates in the House of Commons and invited to present to the committee. It was a broad wave of action from organizations across the country that resulted in changes to the Bill, and then ensuring it passed before a federal election was called, but it was parent voices that stood out as individuals calling on elected officials to do the right thing for all our kids. Along the way, they shared what they were learning about lobbying at the federal level with other parents, encouraging them to do the same.
Earth Day found parts of the country in lockdown again. The FOK Ottawa-Gatineau team moved its pop-up art campaign online, sending photos and videos to elected officials at every level, asking for sustainable climate solutions.
May inspired visits to MLA offices across BC, demanding protection for old growth forests, and a video with our partners at Mères au Front in which Moms shared what they really wanted for Mother's Day.
Not to be outdone, some well-known Dads opened their hearts during an online session for Father's Day, talking about what it means to be a father during a climate crisis. Check it out here: it's worth watching!
August brought heat domes and wild fires across the western provinces. Parents and grandparents joined the Canada Still on Fire protests and Marie-Paule and Lyne from the new Mères au Front | For Our Kids Nelson team shared their story of living through fires and smoke, encouraging others to join them in calling for change.
It had already been a long, frightening, and deeply challenging summer when a snap federal election was called, and teams sprang into action, meeting with candidates, hosting and attending town halls, trying to bring the issue of climate change to the front of debates and above all, getting everyone to vote for change.
When the House resumed, FOK teams in Nanaimo-Ladysmth, the Sunshine Coast, and Montreal pressed the government to pass just transition legislation within the first 100 days in office.
MP Rachel Bendayan listened, and presented FOK Montreal's petition to the House on Dec. 7.
The Global Climate Strike on Sept. 24 brought parents back out into the streets in support of Fridays for Future.
And back-to-school will look different in districts across BC soon, including Duncan, where parent action convinced the school board to purchase an electric school bus - a trend that is literally picking up speed across the province.
Meanwhile, parents and kids from Pour Nos Enfants/For Our Kids Montréal spearheaded a pollinator garden project at one school and took part in a local project to increase urban green spaces and the tree canopy at another.
Over the past year, growing awareness of the racism embedded within the culture, systems and internalized beliefs and assumptions in our communities sparked a growing desire among FOK members to examine more closely the biases and racism ingrained in our own thoughts, beliefs and actions. More than 30 members participated in online training with celebrated community builder and founder of Moms Against Racism, Kerry Cavers, focused on dismantling racism within ourselves, our families and communities. The training was a first concrete step in considering the role we need to play in supporting climate and racial justice.
Learning together online was a theme for teams, not only as a result of pandemic restrictions but also because teams recognized the opportunity to reach more parents and draw them into conversations and action. FOK North Shore hosted a monthly "Meet the Expert" session featuring local and national presenters on all aspects of climate change and solutions. All the recorded online sessions hosted by teams, along with network-wide sessions, are available on FOK's YouTube channel.
COP26 drew parents around the world together in the largest parent mobilization ever, calling on world leaders to stop financing new fossil fuel exploration and projects, and invest in a just transition. Parents across Canada joined the action, finding ways to share their messages with decision-makers in person and online. FOK Vancouver members carried their visual call to cut carbon emissions to MP offices around the city. Mothers like Sarah Nova Scotia posted their messages online. And members of Babies for Climate Action, part of the FOK network, made moving videos to share with leaders.
In November, climate change-related weather events again caused widespread destruction across BC, with atmospheric rivers, mudslides and flooding driving thousands from their homes. Enraged that RCMP officers were being sent to forcibly remove Wet'suwet'en Land Defenders from their traditional territories in the midst of this climate emergency, teams across BC jointly wrote and signed an open letter and call to action, including calls for the federal and provincial governments to respect the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, recognize that no one should be criminalized for standing up for their basic rights, dismantle and defund the Community-Industry Response Group arm of the RCMP, and suspend Coastal GasLink’s operations until and only if the Free Prior and Informed Consent of all Wet'suwet'en hereditary leaders is granted.
FOK teams offered parents, grandparents and families across the country chances to connect, learn, and build community and resilience in 2021. It's clear that the set of parenting skills needed in these times is growing to include standing up for those whose voices aren't heard, holding decision-makers to account, and supporting each other in learning and acting together. It also includes helping their kids and families deal with eco-anxiety. Here, to close out this year-end review, is an interview with two parents from the FOK network that ran in the Globe and Mail Dec. 4. Being heard and seen is the best evidence of the growing impact parents are making every day - with more to come in 2022.