Tragedy and Resilience

Abstract image by monicore on Pixabay https://pixabay.com/en/background-abstract-desktop-blur-3181283/

Public transit is supposed to be safe. So it was with horror and shock that Ottawans heard about the bus crash at the Westboro Transitway station on Friday afternoon. Our hearts go out to everyone affected by this tragedy—the people involved, their families, friends, communities, first responders, service providers, those who are working to find out what happened and how to prevent such a thing from happening again, those who have looked for ways to offer comfort, transit users, residents.

There are sources of support if you need them:

The Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region provides phone lines if you need someone to talk to about how you’re feeling, are looking for information on services available, or are in crisis. The lines are open 24/7.

Ottawa Public Health has posted information on experiencing stressful events, what you might be feeling and where to get information and help if you need it.

CHEO has information on how to help kids cope with traumatic events.

Grief is experienced individually, but a resilient community is one that comes together at difficult times—this is one of those times.

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Indigenous People’s Rights Before Pipelines

Image of Gidimt’en Checkpoint sign – from International Day of Solidarity with Wet’suwet’en Facebook event page

It’s 2019—time to be the change we want to see in the world.

Today, there’s an opportunity to stand with Indigenous peoples who are asserting their rights to their traditional, unceded lands.

The International Day of Action in Solidarity with Wet’suwet’en takes place in Ottawa and other communities on Tuesday, Jan. 8 at noon on Parliament Hill.

The gathering is in support of members of the Wet’suwet’en People who are peacefully protecting their territories from construction of a natural gas pipeline by Coastal GasLink, a subsidiary of TransCanada.

Yesterday, RCMP moved in and arrested 14 people, on the grounds that the RCMP were enforcing a B.C. Supreme Court injunction to clear the way for construction of the pipeline.

The land protectors say this is a violation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and of Wet’suwet’en law.

It signifies that Canada and Canadians are putting corporate profits and environmental degradation before Indigenous rights and any hope of a better relationship with sovereign Indigenous nations.

The Ottawa action will start at noon at the Parliament Hill front gate.

#timeisnow #Wetsuwetenstrong

 

 

Vote for a Sustainable Ottawa on October 22 2018

What’s the most important thing you can do for the environment on Monday, October 22? Vote.

Our municipal government is responsible for many of the systems that affect our ecological footprint as citizens and determine the city’s environmental health.

The people we elect need to lead the creation of sustainable, equitable and safe systems in many areas: planning and management of our built urban and rural environment (including development, infill, and affordable housing); action on climate change (including renewable energy); protection of our environment (including greenspace, trees, flora and fauna, water sources and quality); transportation (prioritizing pedestrians, cyclists and public transit users); a strong local food system; and waste and recycling. They need to prioritize these in funding decisions. They need to value and support community engagement, local action, and accountability to residents as essential dimensions of our city’s governance. They need to work toward a different and better relationship with the Indigenous peoples on whose land we have built this city.

Some of the candidates for mayor and councillor have clear platforms on these issues (some may have even written the book on them). Others have positions or track records that indicate that these are not among their priorities.

If you need more information on the candidates for mayor, city councillors and school trustees before you vote:

  • Ecology Ottawa has done a survey of all candidates about their positions on local environmental issues.
  • The Greenspace Alliance of Canada’s Capital has posted the results of a survey of municipal candidates on environmental issues.
  • The Ottawa Food Policy Council’s survey of candidates covers food issues.
  • OttawaStart has published a list of links to municipal candidate Q&As and debates.
  • The City of Ottawa website has lists of all candidates, including their websites, as well as information for voters about how and where to vote.

See you at the polls on Monday, October 22.

 

Forest Wellness Walks with Forest Therapy Ottawa

Friends of the Carp Hills photo via Forest Therapy Ottawa

What a great time of year for a rejuvenating forest walk! Andrea Prazmowski at Forest Therapy Ottawa leads Forest Wellness Walks in and around Ottawa-Gatineau. These gentle walks provide an opportunity to slow down, take time to experience nature and be mindful of the wonder and life around us.

The guided walks are also a wonderful way to experience some lesser-known but notable natural areas around the city, judging by the list of upcoming public walks this month:

  • Thanksgiving Forest Walk at Morris Island Conservation Area, on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018 from 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday Wellness Walks at Stony Swamp, on Wednesday Oct. 10, 17 or 24, 9:30 a.m.-noon.
  • Crazy Horse Trail in the Carp Hills on Saturday, Oct. 13, 1-3:30 p.m.
  • See.Breathe.Be Forest Walks at Gaia Wellness Retreat, Gatineau Hills, on Sunday, Oct. 14 and Sunday, Oct. 21, 3-5:30 p.m.
  • Old-Growth Pines, Gillies Grove National Historic Site (home of the tallest living tree in Ontario!) in Arnprior, on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 9:30 a.m.-noon.

Some walks are on accessible trails, have flexible pricing and/or support local environmental groups. Check the Forest Therapy Ottawa website for further details and registration links.

Spending time in nature can reduce stress, improve physical and mental wellness, promote energy and attention capacity, and enhance happiness and creativity. Among the many good reasons to go on a forest walk very soon.

*  *  *

For more forest time in fall colours, visit one of the many trails in the Ottawa-Gatineau area, for example in Gatineau Park or the Greenbelt, where the NCC’s Fall Rhapsody is on from Sept. 29 to Oct. 21, 2018, or in natural areas managed by the City of Ottawa.

Trees

The storm last Friday was a grim reminder of the precariousness of Ottawa’s built and natural environments—including the area’s tree canopy.

A coalition of community groups has organized a series of local events to mark National Tree Week, September 23-29, 2018, and to draw attention to the importance of trees and their habitats. Those events are ongoing, and perhaps all the more significant now.

One of the purposes of the week’s activities is to connect tree protection to Ottawa’s election. Ottawa’s trees are threatened not only by extreme weather, exacerbated by climate change, but by infill and urban development, disease and other factors. The intention is to convey the message to municipal officials and administrations that they need to lead the preservation and promotion of local trees and the green spaces and infrastructure that enable trees to flourish.

Everyone is invited to participate in the week’s activities, which started with Tree Fest Ottawa’s Fall Tree Festival last weekend. Upcoming events include tree planting by students on National Tree Day, Wednesday Sept. 26, and the Canadian premiere of India’s Healing Forests film on Thursday, Sept. 27.

The campaign invites citizens and community groups to host discussions or events, and engage municipal candidates, during National Tree Week. Suggested types of activities include tree-planting, storytelling, tree walks, or meetings with ward candidates. See Ecology Ottawa’s page or Tree Action Now’s site for further information.

Ottawa Storm

Thinking of everyone affected by the three six tornados and storm that thundered through the Ottawa-Gatineau area on Friday.

Grateful for the people who have worked through the aftermath of the storm, to look after others, respond to emergencies, assess and address the damage, share shelter, food and water, and keep lines of communication open.

Here at home, our power outage and disruption of internet and phone service were inconvenient but manageable thanks to camping equipment, kind friends and a bit of gear (e.g. wind-up radio) that runs on human or solar power.

All a reminder of the fragility of our built-up existence on this intricate planet, and our interdependence with its systems—and each other.

Take care, everyone.

 

One World Film Festival 2018

The annual One World Film Festival in Ottawa is on from Thursday, Sept. 20-Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, with a bonus film on Thursday, Sept. 27. The Festival is jam-packed with documentary films from around the world on environmental, social justice and human rights topics.

Among the environment-themed films:

  • The short film Earthrise (USA 2018), about the power of the first photo of our shared planet taken from space, on Friday, Sept. 21, 6:15 p.m.;
  • Not in My Neighbourhood (South Africa/Brazil/USA 2017) on struggles for land and housing in São Paulo, Cape Town and New York, on Friday, Sept. 21 at 7:15 p.m.—highly relevant in light of the evictions of the Timbercreek Heron Gate community taking place in Ottawa;
  • The Wapikoni Indigenous short films program on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 1:30 p.m.

There’s also a post-festival screening of Anote’s Ark (Canada 2018), on climate change, rising oceans and people’s actions on Thursday, Sept. 27 at 6:45 p.m.

See the One World Film Festival website for details.