Four Timely Issues
Day 4’s gift is insight into our perspectives and approaches on 4 timely issues: overwhelm and inaction associated to climate change; fostering respect for land through honouring indigenous perspectives and practices; nature’s rights; and treating our natural world as disposable
Our perspective on an issue underlies BTCEA’s approach and ultimately its programming. Each stems from having a deeper look into our lives and an exploration of options available to us. We would love to hear from you. Let us know if you have input into these ‘issues’ or agree with our approach.
Overwhelm and inaction associated with Climate Change
Climate change is all around us, so too are the root causes. Just about every human action produces some form of greenhouse gas such as methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide, making us personally a key part of the equation. One thing that emerges with many people learning about our climate change challenges is a sense of hopelessness and overwhelm on how big the challenge is. Be The Change knows we need to give space for this and create space to feel the weight of the issue while channeling that energy into optimistic action. By connecting people with the actions that collectively do make a difference, young people can move from hopelessness to engaged contributors and our future leaders.
At Be The Change, new approaches have been further developed as we focus on addressing climate change. Last year, we added lesson plans that help debunk rampant climate myths, while giving youth the tools to have educated conversations. This year, with the launch of our Climate Action Champions Initiative (CAChI) we are getting youth excited about their role as change-makers at large Assemblies and equipping them with knowledge and tools needed and answering the tough climate questions that come up in our CAChI workshops. We are excited to redirect the conversation from the mainstream doom and gloom approach towards informed action and help students to embrace their role in mitigating and adapting to our changing future. Here is a short video that has helped inspire the students that change towards a more sustainable world is possible.
Fostering respect for land through honouring indigenous perspectives and practices
Diverse communities are learning that many First People’s relationship with the land fosters a deep intrinsic connection to place and ‘all our relations’. Widely speaking, many First Nations People’s perspectives foster an inter-dependent and protective stewardship-like connection to our natural world, that, in turn, help support our current societal environmental challenges. A reinvigorated connection to our sense of place and respect for land is being fostered in a number of ways: more collaborative partnerships and consultation practices are being explored, our BC Curriculum was re-written to include indigenous perspectives and ways, indigenous knowledge and cultural practices are re-emerging in circles where they were previously harshly oppressed, areas are being acknowledged as sacred sites, and more.
At Be The Change, our understanding of how these perspectives and practices impact our work and curriculum has grown over the years and is continuing to do so. All 40+ Student Action Packs have ‘indigenous wisdom quotes’ that were compiled by a BTCEA advisor and Metis elder, Aline LaFlamme. BTCEA’s Executive Director Erin Leckie, has deepened her learning and perspectives by being in community with many culturally connected local indigenous elders, participating and supporting predominantly indigenous ceremonies and events. BTCEA is currently collaborating on an Interconnectedness and ‘All my Relations’ piece of curriculum with elder Phil Lane Jr., which we hope to offer in 2018.
Giving Nature Rights
If we aren’t building the ‘well-being of our natural world’ into the way we govern and make our decisions as a society, then we are doing our world and ourselves a disservice. Disconnecting the health of the human species to the health of our eco-systems, resources, and fauna that we rely upon for fresh air, water, food, and shelter is very short-sighted. One way of addressing this is to support nature having rights. Many human communities around the world are now upholding the rights of nature in court. This movement includes the rights of nature in constitutions, bills, policies and practices. To date over 110 countries have signed on to honour the rights of nature in their governance. Many Canadians are advocating for that shift in our bills and constitution as well.
At Be The Change, natural, non-human communities are recognized in our Stakeholders process throughout our curriculum. We have a student ‘Action Pack’ focused entirely on the Rights of Nature and the topic is also addressed in our Environmental Justice Action Pack. In addition, BTCEA has also been in conversation with some of David Suzuki’s Blue Dot organizers, about how to support them in their quest to bring the rights of nature into the Canadian Constitution and various bills. In workshops on the rights of nature and environmental justice, we have collected signatures for that cause.
Treating our natural abundance as disposable
Since Be The Change’s conception, staff and curriculum designers have been passionate about deepening our understanding of how our everyday actions either respect our beautiful world or apathetically perpetrate the disconnect. One way this shows up is in how easily we throw things away. This video of Julia Butterfly Hill articulates this and was used as one of the original videos to explore this concept. We know it is hard to live in a way that isn’t constantly throwing things away unnecessarily as convenience, sanitation, trends and planned
obsolesce supports us in creating a lot of ‘trash’. It takes careful thought and planning to use only what you need AND this is something we are passionate about supporting through all of our programming.
At Be The Change, we tackle this in a variety of ways. We have an entire Module in SLS called Valuing Conscious Consumption, which explores eight consumption and waste topics. We also discuss the worldview of ‘More is Better’ in our lessons and have participants discuss the implications of having that perspective. Finally, Be The Change members challenge each other in ‘ditching the disposable’s’ and many of us have gone years without using a one-time use cup or bag, so we can speak to how to respect our natural world through our own lived experiences in all our workshops.