Good Sunday Morning!
Today finds me packing up to leave Ashcroft after a few days off – nearly a week! We got here Tuesday, with John’s son and family visiting from Norway, so that includes our youngest grandson – four years old! Plus John’s oldest daughter and her teenaged children, his sister and her grown kids, and his youngest, Julia and my Cate, and our assorted dogs.
Julia works at West Coast Environmental Law, so despite holiday and no internet, this family gathering on the edge of nowhere was among the very first to know that Vancouver City Council passed a motion (moved by Green council member Adriane Carr) to join in a class action lawsuit seeking damages from Big Oil for climate crisis events.
Today, I am en route to represent the Green Party at the invitation of the Prime Minister’s Office at the Papal apology events in and near Edmonton. Leader Amita Kuttner had conflicts with their Reconnection Tour and asked me to go. I will be accompanied by Deputy Leader Rainbow Eyes, Angela Davidson, a member of Da’naxda’xw/Awaetlala First Nation, Alert Bay. I found the least carbon route from Ashcroft – one flight from Kamloops to Calgary then bus to Edmonton. I’ll return to Vancouver catching the once-a-week VIA Rail train, then ferry home.
The whole matter of apologies for past wrongdoing happens so frequently that they may blur together, but they all matter. This one particularly. The 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report included among its 93 Calls to Action that the Pope come to Canada to apologize for the Residential School system.
- #58. We call upon the Pope to issue an apology to Survivors, their families, and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools. We call for that apology to be similar to the 2010 apology issued to Irish victims of abuse and to occur within one year of the issuing of this Report and to be delivered by the Pope in Canada.
Obviously, the apology comes more than one year from the report. We are seven years late on this, but there are many more commitments that the government of Canada is called to meet that are in the deferred pile. Really critical is to repudiate the doctrine of discovery and to deliver on long-awaited progress on health care and education.
There will be many approaches to the Pope’s visit. It is for all those traumatized by the system, those who lost family members to unexplained deaths and to those whose family has been touched intergenerationally by the trauma to process their reaction to this historic apology. That process of grieving is necessarily one mixed with anger, a deep call for justice and true reconciliation for Indigenous and settler culture Canadians. It is for settler culture Canadians to do the work that re-makes our society to repudiate the historic genocide and recognize that the genocide continues, as was so well documented in the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. We have a lot of work to do.
The Pope is both symbol and man; a representative of an institution holding enormous wealth and of a prophet who – as Gandhi once said of Christ – “embraced poverty.” Any approach to organized religion – any of them – is fraught with complexity. As Gandhi also said he loved Christ, but hated Christians. I think Gandhi would have liked this Pope. He appears to live the values of love that Gandhi so admired.
Pope Francis is also an 85-year-old man in poor health. He is the first Argentinian pope (the first from South America at all), the first Jesuit. And arguably the first environmentalist – taking the name Francis to be a modern exemplar of St. Francis of Assisi. His papal letter, known as an “encyclical,” Laudato si, comes from the words of St. Francis’s “Canticle of the Creatures” – “Praise be to you”. Laudato si was issued in spring 2015 to give additional impetus to the Paris negotiations at COP21. This pope has been clear that climate action is a moral imperative. He has denounced greed, consumerism and capitalism in pretty straight-forward terms.
The approach to all creatures, to the sun and moon and rivers, adopted by St. Francis of Assisi in the Canticle of the Creatures is close in its inclusiveness to Indigenous recognition of “all my relations” being all living things. And those non-living parts of Creation as well.
Even for my non-religious friends, I cannot recommend strongly enough the importance of the Papal Encyclical on “care for our common home”.
So I attend the events this week with a mass of emotions. I will try to be fully present in that space. With an open heart to pain and a keen awareness that I am also there both as human being and as symbol. I am there to be among those political party leaders assembled to represent our parliament. I am there to represent the Green Party and our values. But as a human being, I am there as pilgrim and penitent.
We gather as much of the world is on fire or in massive heat distress. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Monday, “Half of humanity is in the danger zone, from floods, droughts, extreme storms and wildfires. No nation is immune. Yet we continue to feed our fossil fuel addiction”.
Last week I wrote you about finishing our adaptation submission. It is very timely reading this week. Here is the link.
I also highly recommend a book I finished this week. It is an extraordinary work of fiction that lands far too close to the truth. In fact, some pages of this science fiction novel seem to have been ripped from the headlines of this last week. The book, The Ministry for the Planet is a cautionary tale of the coming climate catastrophe with a hopeful journey to a survivable world. I hasten to mention that it is ultimately hopeful, to encourage you to keep reading after the first few pages in which 20 million people die in a heat dome. I had to put it down for quite a while after that.
Author Kim Stanley Robinson, a much-acclaimed writer of science fiction, has kept the science and explanations of everything from market forces to carbon credits readable and accurate. It is one story of how we may survive a near-Apocalypse. If more people read it, it is possible we can stop the insanity that flirts with collective suicide.
Another newly released book that I thoroughly enjoyed is from local scientist and writer, Jim Kingham. Solutions for a Wounded Future has just been released. I include the links to order it in the P.S. It is an excellent and sweeping review of where we are and proven approaches to get to a safer place.
I hope to see a lot of you next Sunday, July 31 at Vancouver Pride Parade! And locally at events on Pender and Mayne Islands on the 29th and 30th, or at our Summer Picnic on August 7th! See the Events Listings for Saanich-Gulf Islands Greens for more details.
Please do read the Adaptation Brief if you want to stay safe in heat waves and be better prepared for climate events. While the advice is for governments, the practical tips are worth knowing even at an individual level.
With love and gratitude,
Jim Kingham has studied the environment and researched, managed, and directed environmental programs at the community, municipal, provincial, national, and international levels for more than fifty years. books.friesenpress.com
Elizabeth May is the Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands, B.C., and the Green Party of Canada Parliamentary Leader.
Saanich-Gulf Islands Greens