By Jennifer Smith, founding member and organizing parent with Pour nos enfants / For Our Kids Montreal
As a board member for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) who happens to live in Montreal, I had the privilege of having access to COP15 or NatureCOP. I was very much appreciative of the opportunity to be the eyes and ears of parents across the country.
The goal of NatureCOP is to establish a Global Biodiversity Framework, an international agreement for protecting nature around the world. This is essential to halt and reverse biodiversity loss. Biodiversity is the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. We are biodiversity – our kids are biodiversity – and biodiversity collapse means the collapse of humanity.
Indigenous Peoples across the country have been doing tremendous work for the conservation of their territories since time immemorial, and we have so much to learn from them regarding our place within nature and the stewardship of the environment. A lot of this work was showcased in panels at COP15, and I was in awe of all the work that is being done. The federal government made commitments to support some of this work. This is a start, but more can certainly be done.
It was invigorating to be joining people around the world in one common goal – the protection of nature. Hardworking individuals from across the country were working from dawn until the late hours of the night hosting informational panels, giving a platform to Indigenous Peoples, meeting with government officials, and doing what they can to influence negotiations, all while doing an excellent job engaging the public. We need to do what we can to support these groups.
Overall, I have come away hopeful. Yes, moving our governments and the governments of the world can be a slow and frustrating process. But there are so many people who are working toward the solutions that I can’t help but feel that we will get there and reverse biodiversity decline in our kids’ generation.
- Thousands of people – including families (and David Suzuki!) – took to the streets of Montreal for a march for biodiversity led by Indigenous groups
- Indigenous Leadership Initiative built an Indigenous village at the Old Port, a welcoming space, which hosted talks on Indigenous-led conservation and showcased Indigenous culture
- Our very own Natalie Caine represented For Our Kids and Mères au Front on a panel on climate grief
- The Mères au Front hosted a number of family-friendly workshops to create the Chair of generations to give our kids a seat at the table and delivered one of these to COP15
- Réseau Environnement hosted a public space that included family-friendly biodiversity activities, including the Biodiversity Collage animated by For Our Kids Montreal parent Olivier Gourment
- Collectif COP15 hosted a public forum on the underlying causes of biodiversity loss, which culminated in the Montreal Call to pursue systemic change announced by Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante and supported by the Quebec and federal environment ministers
- The NatureBUS from Nature Canada delivered thousands of letters to Minister Guilbeault, in support of nature protection from across Canada including letters from kids and families
- Minister Guilbeault was literally everywhere making positive announcements for Canada, including for Indigenous-led conservation. We will need to push the government to follow through on these commitments and to take action
These are still taking place and are slow. The clock is ticking, and negotiators still have a few more days to come to an agreement, but we continue to push for action.
What can you do
- There is still time to take 30 seconds to send off your own letter to decision makers urging them to halt and reverse biodiversity loss for nature and for our kids
- Support the Montreal Call for a dialogue on addressing the underlying causes of biodiversity loss and climate change and urge your local government to join the call
- Send your MP a holiday card calling for a cap on oil and gas emissions