Those words come from Echo McDowell's presentation as a panellist for the "Climate Change and Your Child's Health" session on Oct. 1st. (You can find Echo's presentation, as well as those of the other panellists, here.)
They were speaking about the superpower parents and grandparents have to impact decisions made by government that directly affect the lives of children.
You may feel that your words and actions aren't making much of a difference next to the powerful lobbying efforts of industries and corporations who want to return to pre-COVID-19 conditions, ignoring the systemic climate, social, and racial injustices that have been clearly exposed by the pandemic. But they are! And this is your chance to push your superpower even further.
Here are three simple steps to grow your impact.
1. Make contact
Is your local councillor, provincial/territorial rep or MP an ally you want to support, or a challenger you want to convince? It's important to connect with them in either case. The point is to make contact and start or build a relationship with the people who represent you and are in a position to make change happen. Listen to Nadine Nakagawa, New Westminster BC City Councillor, talk at their recent virtual town hall about how necessary it is for elected officials to hear from citizens:
Not sure what to say? It's most effective to use your own words to express what concerns you and what you're asking your elected representatives to do. Sometimes that's hard to do, so feel free to use some of the suggestions below to get started.
Make it "sticky" by sharing your story:
I'm writing to you today as your constituent, and as a parent deeply concerned about my children's future.
Tell them what you want them to do (or why you support what they're doing) and add specifics:
As a parent, I'm asking you to apply the same sense of urgency to the climate crisis as you have to the pandemic crisis.
Make it "stickier" by asking for follow-up:
You are in a position to make the decisions that need to be made. I would appreciate your response, and an opportunity to meet with you about your plans to make the future a healthy one for our kids.
You can find contact information for your MP here
2. Follow Up
If you haven't received a response to your email in a week, follow up with a phone call. If you reach a live person, tell them your story and ask for a response from the elected official you're trying to reach.
When they call you back, don't be surprised! Be yourself and share honestly what is concerning you and what you want them to do. If you're stuck for words, ask questions: do they have a family? children or grandchildren? how do they feel about the future they are facing? what do they plan to do about it?
This is a really important part:
We'll compile and share actions from parents and grandparents across the country to hold elected officials accountable, and to support those who are making bold decisions. Let us know how your advocacy work is going!
3. Get Your Kids Involved
Although Hallowe'en will be very different this year, we know kids are super creative and imaginative. How about letting them share their messages with their MPs and better yet, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland? Send a photo of your kids in costume (you can be in the photo too!) to:
email@example.com or tweet @JustinTrudeau
Chrystia.Freeland@parl.gc.ca or tweet @cafreeland
Let them know that Hallowe'en is scary fun, but climate change is just scary.
Share your photos with us so we can amplify the message! Tag us on FB @forourkidscanada