Lydia is a Ph.D. student in Biology and has a long history of working in wilderness settings. Her past work involved being a Conservation Officer with Parks Canada, conducting mushroom surveys in California and planting trees in BC. She is grateful to have had opportunities to work with people with different perspectives and values and learn so much from them and her experiences!
I was 17 years old, living in a small town in Northwestern Ontario. A blue-collar logging town with three pulp and paper mills, freight shipping trade on Lake Superior, and a strong outdoor community. But not the MEC kind of outdoors (Mountain Equipment Coop: BC’s trendy hipster outdoor store). We wore plaid but didn’t think it was cool. We canoed, hiked, fished, hunted. We sat by firesides. We sucked on sunflower seeds and spit their shells into the fire while sipping Labatt Blue. Yeah, we even cheered for the ‘Leafs.
When Canada’s first Earth Day was announced, most people rolled their eyes at yet another hippie uprising in bush-whacker central. The previous uproar was the introduction of recycling -- “GASP!”, said all of the adults, when we were taught recycling in elementary school. I still remember my Dad angrily expostulating about all the jobs that the garbage men would lose. “Sigh”, said all of the kids, “but recycling will save our environment”. But what did kids know about the earth?
Look at us now! We have moved from zero recycling to our current sophisticated recycling programs across the country. We compost; we refurbish; we even reuse cigarette butts! We began with a small, little known, and little cared for movement of Earth Day in 1990 to a way of life in 2017. We still plant trees, but now, with bravado, we do so much more: electric cars and zero waste.
In less than 30 years, Canada has flipped its archaic beliefs about waste and recycling. I believe that it all begins with the children. Not necessarily children in age, but the young at heart. For it is only through our youthful hope and education that we can continue to evolve into a species that is dedicated to prolonging the well-being for all of Earth.
And so, this girl from a small logging town will be proud to stand alongside other Canadians to celebrate all that we have done, all that we are still doing, and all that we have yet to do in the future, by marching in the Earth Day Parade on April 22nd, 2017. Will you be there too?
Hope you’ll join me,
For more information about the Earth Day Parade: http://earthdayparade.ca/
*Photos are the author's own