I am pretty worried about the climate crisis. I am worried about my kids’ futures – I’m worried about all of our kids’ futures. Last fall I decided to get involved in climate action. I started by attending meetings with a number of local and national climate justice groups, participating in a few climate actions organized by groups in the Ottawa area, and learning more about the issues.
The best thing I read was Seth Klein’s excellent book, “A Good War”. I learned that there are solutions to the climate emergency, but we need our government to treat the emergency like an emergency and to take aggressive action. I also learned that responding to the climate crisis requires much more than lowering emissions. We need a just transition where human rights and worker rights are strengthened and no one gets left behind.
In mid-October, the Council of Canadians asked people to volunteer for their Just Transition Parliamentary Petition campaign and I nervously volunteered to collect signatures, present the petition to my local MP, and ask her to table it in the House of Commons. I had to step WAY outside of my comfort zone, but the Council of Canadians offered lots of support. I was able to collect all the signatures I needed and I was even able to help collect signatures for other ridings as well. It felt so good to be doing something, even just a small thing.
Photos: Sara and her team presenting their parliamentary petition over zoom to their MP Marie-France Lalonde & preparing their day of action for a Just Transition.
By late January, when 350 Canada and the Council of Canadians asked people to volunteer to organize a Day of Action for a Just Transition on March 12, I felt confident that my small group of friends and I would be able to organize an action in our community. We spent 7 weeks planning our action in Orleans and, I am not going to lie, it was a fair amount of work. Next time, we will definitely recruit more volunteers for our organizing team. We learned so much in those 7 weeks and had a lot of fun. We received incredible support from 350 Canada and Council of Canadians – with excellent toolkits, zoom calls, and email check-ins. And we got so much help from so many organizations who wanted to amplify our event and help us. On the day of action, we were so encouraged seeing media coverage of the 50 actions across the country with thousands gathering to demand a just transition.
Over the months, I have made some amazing friends and connections with so many incredible people working for climate justice. I know that we need to keep working to raise awareness in our communities and pressuring our government to pass just transition legislation. We face big challenges. Seeing how many people care about climate justice and are working hard toward solutions helps me stay hopeful. As the saying goes, action really is the antidote for despair.
Sara Washburn is an organizing member of For Our Kids Ottawa/Gatineau.