Saturday, April 18, 2015

Blue Dot Movement Advocating for a Healthy Environment

Rather than just address individual environmental insults, the Blue Dot movement seeks to entrench a legal framework that will protect Canada's environment from coast to coast. A growing number of Canadians are demanding the right to a healthy environment. Historically Canadians have been at the forefront of environmental issues, but in recent years these issues have been ignored by Canada's federal government. 

The Blue Dot movement took its name from two pictures of Earth from space. The now-famous 1972 photo of Earth taken by Apollo 17 astronauts which subsequently became known as "the blue marble" and a 1990 picture from Voyager 1 which the late scientist Carl Sagan described as a "pale blue dot". Both beautiful and fragile these images changed our perspective of our planetary home.

Blue Dot is a project of the David Suzuki Foundation and it is proudly supported by Nature’s Path, Roots Canada and Ascenta Health. Geoff Wills, Ascenta’s Director of Marketing, said that supporting the Blue Dot Movement is one of the ways the company can create health for people and planet alike: “Uniting our staff and our customers behind a common sense of purpose helps give us meaning. The Blue Dot Movement symbolizes our core values and we are a proud partner.”

People in 110 countries already have the right to a healthy environment. Even though the vast majority of Canadians support such rights they do not have them. Our natural splendor may cause some to overlook the fact that environmental hazards contribute to about 36,000 premature deaths in Canada a year, and half of us live in areas where we're exposed to unsafe air pollution levels. Pollution costs Canada about $100 billion a year, and many people suffer from illnesses like asthma and heart disease because of environmental contamination. The federal government's preoccupation with fossil fuel extraction adds urgency to the situation.

Deplorable conditions also exist in hundreds of First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities across Canada. To address this situation the David Suzuki Foundation started the Blue Dot movement which seeks to enshrine the right to a healthy environment in the Canadian constitution. The constitutional amendment that the Blue Dot movement is seeking includes the right to fresh air, clean water and healthy food.

The Blue Dot movement is building a critical mass that will compel our political leadership to heed our demands. The movement calls upon Canadians to pass municipal declarations that respect people's right to live in a healthy environment. The grassroots efforts started with neighborhood communities which came together to change cities and these cities in turn are coming together to augur change at the provincial and national level. If seven out of 10 provincial governments pass bills of rights, we can then make an amendment to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This would ensure that all Canadians benefit from a healthy environment, world-class standards and a say in the decisions that affect our health.

The official launch of the movement all started with David Suzuki's Blue Dot tour that started on September 24 and ended on November 9. Some of the people that joined Suzuki on the tour included Feist, Neil Young, the Barenaked Ladies, Margaret Atwood, Kinnie Starr, Raine Maida, Grimes, Danny Michel, Stephen Lewis, Bruce Cockburn, Robert Bateman, and Shane Koyczan.

The Tour, described by Suzuki as the most important thing he has ever done, visited 21 cities and towns right across the country. Thousands of organizers gathered names on petitions which they then forwarded to their municipal leaderships. Richmond BC was the first to sign a municipal declaration demanding a healthy environment, than many others followed.

So far 36 municipal governments have passed declarations recognizing the right to fresh air, clean water and healthy food. A total of 70,581 Canadians have signed up to show their support. 

Together these municipal declaration put pressure on provincial governments. When seven of the ten provincial governments are on-board a constitutional amendment can be made.

As explained by an elder of Borneo's Penan tribe, quoted by ethnobotanist Wade Davis:

"The land is sacred; it belongs to the countless numbers who are dead, the few who are living, and the multitudes of those yet to be born."

Recognizing our right to a healthy environment is the first step in realizing this ancient wisdom in a 21st century reality.

What a legacy to leave our children.

Click here to find our more about the National Day of Action on April 19th.

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