Earth Day in Toronto

 

Today, Monday, April 22nd, is Earth Day, the largest, most celebrated environmental event on the planet. Or more technically, International Mother Earth Day, as determined by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2009.

“International Mother Earth Day promotes a view of the Earth as the entity that sustains all living things found in nature. Inclusiveness is at the heart of International Mother Earth Day; fostering shared responsibilities to rebuild our troubled relationship with nature is a cause that is uniting people around the world.”

-Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, United Nations General Assembly President

The idea of a day devoted to Mother Earth goes back to 1969, when U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, motivated by a huge oil spill in Santa Barbara and inspired by anti-Vietnam War protests at university campuses across the States, proposed that April 22, 1970 be set aside as a day to conduct a national “teach in” on the environment, to be held at universities across the land.

“I am convinced that all we need to do to bring an overwhelming insistence of the new generation that we stem the tide of environmental disaster is to present the facts clearly and dramatically. To marshal such an effort, I am proposing a national teach-in on the crisis of the environment to be held next spring on every university campus across the Nation. The crisis is so imminent, in my opinion, that every university should set aside 1 day in the school year-the same day across the Nation-for the teach-in.”– Gaylord Nelson

The idea caught on. The first Canadian Earth Day was celebrated in Kingston in 1980 and consisted largely of lectures, a litter pick-up by students and tree plantings to address the loss of trees killed by Dutch Elm Disease. Earth Day Week was officially opened by then Secretary of State for External Affairs, the appropriately named Flora McDonald and has been going strong ever since.

 

Earth Day is now observed in 192 countries and over one billion people in cities around the world. Including yours. And for kids, to whom we entrust the health of our planet, there are dozens of activities and ideas to explore in and around Toronto today in which to celebrate and honour and protect our planet, ranging from building a bug house, an initiative that educates kids and adults alike about how insects act as pollinators and can be used instead of insecticides, to something as simple as starting an awareness campaign to cut down on automobile idling.

There will be a fundraiser on Wednesday April 24 at the CN Tower  to literally raise awareness and funds to new heights for Earth Day Canada Charities.

Whether you involve yourself in an enterprise that rehabilitates industrial or abandoned community sites by planting organic gardens or creating areas for butterflies and wildflowers, or launching a backyard compost program.

There is no excuse for not getting involved in some small way. Maybe this week you can bike to work, or take transit.Every little bit helps. And your mother will thank you.

“Well, I’ll admit I was unfaithful,But from now on I’ll be more faithful”- Sparks, “Never turn your back on Mother Earth”

 

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