The budding lilacs outside my window are framed by a vibrant blue sky. The sunshine is welcome after days of rain and wind. I can see the Gatineau Hills across the way, and I am grateful.
In the “before times,” after getting the kids out the door for school, I would have made my way to the bus stop, to the train and to my downtown office. Today, I load up the water totes, put on my dusty barn coat, and head out the back door to feed and water our five miniature sheep and 83 assorted chickens; to muck out the barn and collect a stunning rainbow of eggs. It all takes no more than 30 minutes, and I’m back inside, cleaned up and at my computer in my living room workspace.
The world looks very different than it did a year ago.
For some people, the commute has become an anxious trip across town to spend an uncertain day dealing with the public. For others, like me, the commute has vanished. My new farm life is a big step along a path my family and I have been navigating for some time. A path to simplicity, to sustainability and to a deeper connection with creation.
Give it up for the Earth!
In 2017, I began coordinating Give it up for the Earth!, the Lenten climate justice campaign run by Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ). This campaign combined personal actions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and a call on our government to match and exceed these actions with policy changes.
Every year since then, I took steps to reduce my family’s carbon footprint. We dealt with plastics in the kitchen and bathroom, reduced our consumption of red meat, and continued our practice of using public transit, shopping locally, and eating in season as much as possible. The actions inspired by Give it up for the Earth! were part of a larger commitment to doing things differently to make a difference.
Admittedly, the path to living more lightly on the Earth hasn’t always followed a straight line. New habits can take time and circumstances shift (read: global pandemic). Every once in a while, cost and convenience have crept in too. That’s when I circle back and try again.
I recognize that a rural lifestyle isn’t necessarily a low-carbon one. So we make careful choices about how and how often we go to town, where we get our food, and how we care for this land and the animals. Because living a rural life has allowed us to deepen our connection with the created world. And we all know that we protect the things that we love.
Uniting our Voices
Alongside my personal journey, I have also joined my voice with thousands of people in Canada calling on the federal government to make policy changes that will move us further and faster towards the Paris temperature goals. Over the past four years, we’ve asked them to put a price on carbon (and they did!), to end subsidies to the fossil fuel sector, and to invest in a just, inclusive transition to a green economy, to name a few.
When the global scientific community said that the world had a mere decade to drastically reduce emissions, several churches and faith-based organizations in Canada – including the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue (CPD) and the Presbyterian Church in Canada (PCC) – came together to discuss ways that we might deepen our collective action and engage our communities on climate change in this critical decade.
These discussions led to the development of For the Love of Creation, which was launched on Earth Day 2020. So far over 35 faith bodies and faith-based organizations have endorsed the initiative, including the PCC and World Renew, and agreed to work together in the areas of theological reflection, local and congregational engagement, and political advocacy.
We have pledged to collaborate more deeply, more intensely and engage more broadly than we ever have before. This pledge is a gesture of honour to Indigenous peoples’ resilience, their wisdom, and their place at the front of any struggle; of global partners who show a sustainable way forward even in imminent crisis; of social movements, here in Canada which have worked so diligently for accountability and change; and to honour young people, whose transformative work is changing everything. We welcome any community of faith in Canada to join us in this movement.
Faith in action
On February 17 we launched our joint faith-in-action campaign. Through this campaign, we are mobilizing people across Canada to reduce emissions and demonstrate support for increased federal climate action by writing letters to federal Cabinet Ministers on a range of climate justice issues. This campaign speaks to the desire of concerned individuals and communities to “do something” while at the same time acknowledging that the scale of the problem requires government action towards systems-change.
The combination of personal and political action is important for a couple of reasons: One, uncertainty about what to do can lead to despair, isolation, silence and inaction – and this inaction can be understood by politicians as approval of the status quo. And two, signaling that we are working to reduce our own emissions allows us to press government with greater integrity.
This year’s pledge also includes a commitment to engage in acts of solidarity with justice-seeking communities, which reinforces our commitment not only to climate action, but to climate justice.
We know that we need to take swift and bold actions now to maintain global temperature rise to 1.5℃ (over pre-Industrial levels), and we must do so in a way that addresses inequalities, reinforces human rights and builds resilience in communities.
That is why we are calling on the Government of Canada to:
Increase our national GHG emissions reduction target and invest in a just transition to a fair, inclusive, green economy; Implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including, but not limited to, the right of free, prior and informed consent; Commit equal support for climate change adaptation and mitigation measures in the Global South.
I am honoured to have connected with hundreds of climate justice advocates over the last number of years. I am grateful for their inspiration, the ways that they have challenged me, and ultimately for the ways in which they’ve made this beautiful and urgent movement better.
I hope that more of these passionate individuals, folks who are on their own journey to climate justice, will register as organizers for the For the Love of Creation faith-in-action campaign. Local organizers will bring the national campaign to their communities across Canada encouraging individuals to take action.
For the Love of Creation will provide electronic materials on climate change and the policy asks of the campaign, personal action ideas and downloadable pledge cards, customizable online letters to Cabinet ministers, and resources to support Earth Day public witness events.
I hope you’ll join us, for the love of creation.
Find out more
Register, make a pledge or send letters at www.fortheloveofcreation.ca. The campaign will take place mostly online and run right through until October 4, 2021, including a public witness event on April 22, Earth Day.