Spiritual Leaders Call for Unity in Climate Crisis
Following four days of intense, sometimes confrontational dialogue, spiritual leaders emerged from Thinkers Lodge in Pugwash today to declare nature has rights and people have responsibilities.
Unlike their scientific counterparts, the spiritual leaders called for a return to our roots, a return to respect for each other, and all living creatures sustained by quality air, water, and soil.
There were 6 Christians (represented by 3 United, 1 Anglican, 1 Roman Catholic, and 1 Baptist), 4 indigenous elders, 4 Buddhists, one Muslim, one Baha’i, 1 from the Green Faith movement, and a representative of the Ecology Action Centre.
The disparate group met from Sunday through Wednesday under the leadership of the four native elders, facilitated by Cathy Martin of Millbrook First Nation.
All reported the immense respect gained for the first nations' elders, especially Albert Marshall of Eskasoni whose wisdom united the gathering. Ron Tremblay, Elder and Wolastoq Grand Council Chief, from Fredericton, brought a unique perspective on the strength to be gained in a cooperative effort through trust and understanding. Dr. Joe Michael, Elder Indian Brook First Nation, and Sarah (Sadie) Francis, Elder Pictou Landing First Nation emphasized the long and current struggle to protect and recover the environment.
The group participated in sacred services that welcomed the morning sun, and sundown ceremonies that gave thanks to the creator, all of which stressed the deep connection that mankind must treasure with all living creatures and the earth itself.
They agreed that much can be learned from the traditions of the first nations people, those who had a balanced relationship with mother earth until the arrival of the settlers who overran the land and forced the native people to give up their ways and their relationship with nature.
The group affirmed the need to return to the spirit of the Peace and Friendship Treaties of 1725-26 and 1752 which provide a strong framework for living together in the Atlantic region, and for addressing the common challenge of the climate crisis in our world. We need to create a partnership among all people and all living things.
Call to Action
The Pugwash Declaration included a commitment to a number of actions, including:
- Conduct inter-generational Indigenous, interfaith visioning sessions about the future climate change crisis.
- Provide evidence-based resources to support the most viable individual, community and institutional solutions to climate change, such as Drawdown (drawdown.org).
- Raise public awareness of the climate threat, readiness, and actions through media articles, social media, libraries, workshops, lectures, films, and gatherings.
- Support and protect youth climate change activists by all means possible.
- Promote harmonious relationships between Indigenous, faith and spiritual groups by regular collaborative activity, such as the Interfaith Harmony Week (worldinterfaithharmonyweek.com), and introduce climate change actions.
- Encourage, support and provide networking resources for groups and individuals interested in starting public and community food gardens.
- Partner with member-based environmental charity organizations to help track and implement these actions.
- Challenge local and provincial governments to meet or exceed the actions of Indigenous, faith-based and all other community groups and individuals.
In order to be accountable and to measure progress, we commit to support, communicate and track climate change actions completed by Indigenous and faith-based communities, community groups and individuals within Atlantic Canada through a shared website.
For information about this proposed website tracker, contact: Ben Grieder, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The main photo shows Cathy Martin, the retreat facilitator, leading discussion at the Lobster Factory during release of the Pugwash Declaration.
The photo below shows Russ Daye (centre), a United Church Minister and one of the organizers of the Spiritual Retreat.
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