Last week, leading environmental organizations and allies sent a letter to Canadian Geographic in support of the campaign
launched by high school students taking on the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and Canadian Geographic's Energy IQ project.
Dear Canadian Geographic,
We are sending this letter as representatives of organizations concerned with your Energy IQ project, particularly by your partnership with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
While we support the stated goal of Energy IQ to “increase energy literacy in Canada”, this is something that cannot happen in a vacuum. The decisions made about Canada’s energy future in the coming years will have a profound effect on youth and and future generations - the target of this project. We believe that true energy literacy requires understanding the impacts of energy production, transport and consumption in Canada, something which Energy IQ currently fails at.
It concerns me greatly, both as a student and as a citizen, that our so-called “public education” isn't quite living up to its name.
Public education, in my opinion, means education that is funded and run entirely by the government, rather than outside organizations. The moment that changes, we must start questioning who is getting involved in our education system, and what their motives are for doing so. A few months ago, an example of our education becoming not-so-public came to the attention of myself and my friend, Sophie Yamauchi.
This October, a new curriculum based program called Energy IQ was made available to teachers in schools all across Canada. This program was created by Canadian Geographic, and funded by none other than CAPP, or the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. CAPP is Canada's largest lobbyist group for the oil and gas industry. Energy IQ is an online resource for teachers to teach their students about the story of Canada's energy, and as you can imagine, it certainly doesn't do a very good job of including the whole story. A few things here and there are focused on renewable energy, but of course, they were added simply to cover up the gaping hole of missing information. This program can be used anywhere from grades 1 through 12. It is incredibly concerning to me that CAPP feels the need to move into schools to target extremely young children with their propaganda. How desperate are they, that they are willing to fund an entire program to get little kids excited about the fossil fuel industry?
On Saturday, thousands of people across Canada gathered in their communities for a day of action to Defend Our Climate. With over 130 action happening all across Canada, it deserves accolades and titles like “historic”, but while celebration is important, it’s more important what we do next.
Standing at the over five thousands strong demonstration in Vancouver I was elated as I watched photos from across the country roll in on my phone, but as I walked home I couldn’t shake a feeling of dread. What if we do it again?
I wasn’t worried about another day of action, but rather looking back on the last time the climate movement in Canada took to the streets in the thousands. Four years ago – on October 24, 2009 – with over 150 actions registered across Canada, thousands took to the streets to demand action on climate change. In Vancouver, thousands of people gathered for the Bridge to a Cool Planet Action. In Montreal, hundreds of cyclists took over city streets while thousands of people, bolstered by attendees of PowerShift 2009, descended on the Parliament buildings for the flagship action in Ottawa. Time was running out to action on climate change.
From bike protests to global campaigns - Strategies for a low carbon society
On November 6, demonstrators carrying orange flags – the color of the North American-wide ‘Fossil Free’ campaign – chanted, “Don’t target bikes, target fossil fuels,” while biking across McGill campus. With the noticeable disagreement about riding bikes on campus, Divest McGill found another way to draw the attention of the McGill community. With over 400 campaigns in institutions in the US and Canada asking for divestment from the fossil fuel industry, the growing movement deserves attention from the public.
Despite the denial of the Board of Governors’ Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility to recommend the BoG to divest from fossil fuels last May, Divest McGill has continued to build momentum. The number of activists in the November 6 demonstration was considerably larger than in any of last year’s demonstrations. Yet Divest McGill believes it still needs to gain more support to build proactive and grassroots power for its demands to the administration.
On November 15, youth from many countries will bring student activism to the forefront of the United Nations climate negotiations taking place in Warsaw, Poland. The side event, titled “The Potential of Divestment: Changing the Landscape of Climate Politics to 2015”, will shed light on the technical aspects of the tactic, as well as share stories from the movement and explore ways in which delegates can divest in many parts of their everyday lives.
On November 16th, thousands of Canadians will gather in nine cities to oppose runaway climate change and fossil fuel expansion. From the Pacific to Atlantic coasts, citizens will call on governments to defend our communities and maintain a safe and just climate for all generations. Many of those attending are also calling on their churches, pensions, schools and cities to end investment in businesses that damage the climate and threaten our communities.
Why should this matter to students at Simon Fraser University?
It has been almost two weeks since the Tar Sands Reality Check tour ended, and I’m still reeling a bit from the experience. The heady mix of engaging with excited crowds at our events and constant news of resistance, from protests at the National Energy Board Line 9 hearings to the Mikmaq anti-fracking blockade, was an enormous amount of energy packed into one week. The end of the tour feels like it is more of a launching point into a new phase of climate activism.
VANCOUVER, UNCEDED COAST SALISH TERRITORY - On Sunday morning, activists with Rising Tide-Vancouver Coast Salish Territories set up a 15-foot mock fracking rig on Premier Christy Clark's lawn and announcing that "Because the Premier loves fracking, we figured we would save her the hassle of trying to take over other peoples' homes and bring it right to her!" says Jacquelyn Fraser, an activist with the group.
"We are just so worried about all the water that is being used and polluted in northeastern B.C. for fracking. We are sure Premier Clark is too and we're sure she can share some of her own supply so that she can see the boom in the industry she keeps promoting," says Fraser as 'construction workers' set up the rig behind her. "She may not end up with a lot of fresh water at the end, but at least she has some we could use right now."
The group is referring to the impacts on the environment caused by hydraulic fracturing, a process through which water, sand, and chemicals are injected into the ground to fracture rock and release unconventional natural gas.
"With Christy Clark touring North America to promote Liquiefied Natural Gas, fracking and gas extractionis set to take over the province," says Maryam Adrangi, Climate and Energy Campaigner with the Council of Canadians.
If you're based in Toronto or passing through, don't miss valuable social change training through the skill-based workshop series Tools for Change.
What's Tools for Change?
A project of OPIRG Toronto, Earthroots, and Greenpeace Canada, Tools for Change hosts workshops throughout the year to help you develop skills to champion social change.
Payment is based on a sliding scale system from $10 to $50. Scholarships available. Community sponsors, University of Toronto students, Greenpeace, and Earthroots members can choose to attend the workshops on a free/donation only basis. Please contact us at email@example.com
if you’re like to know more about being a community sponsor.
Almost all workshops are held in accessible classrooms at the University of Toronto, St George Campus.