Firstly I apologize if I seem somewhat fuddled or rather more disorganized than normal this morning, but yesterday was a long day and seemed to have doubled the normal 24 hours somehow.
I am, however, delighted to be here to celebrate All Buffleheads Day. So this is where my Buffleheads spend the winter. Who knew? I should have tracked them down years ago. They certainly have the right idea. Meanwhile we stay back on the ranch and use their summer nesting ground to play hockey on.
All Buffleheads Day is a nationally recognized public event – wow! Yesterday, Day #298, while I was across the water at the Vancouver Maritime Museum awarding the 2015 SS BEAVER Awards, my Buffleheads were winging their way on the last leg, (or should I say wing) of their journey. When did they leave the ranch? They may have made better time than me! Once again the more we learn the less we know. How very amazing nature is!
Speaking of nature, or rather NatureHood, which I am assuming is a combination of Nature in my Hood? How ingenious because that truly brings nature right back to where it should be, not somewhere OUT THERE in a remote reserve or on a farm or over the hill, but right here were we live daily and breathe daily and eat daily. So if my space, my yard, my school is part of nature, than I, Me, We should take care of this spot right here right now!
And so what can I, one small part of this whole, do? What can you students do? The answer is a lot! Everything! Ideas?
Some 20 years ago a couple of friends and I used to go into the schools in our community and put on a play about garbage less lunches. (My four children were horrified. It may have left permanent scars) We packed homemade sandwiches in reusable containers, with thermoses, you get the picture. Then somebody decided to put vending machines in schools. YIKES!
There are no end to the personal choices we make every day. The lunches we pack. Do we walk, bicycle or bus to school or work? Do I recycle or upcycle my wardrobe? Personal care products – baking soda for teeth, grey is the new blond for hair, no microbead-containing exfoliates which promised to keep my skin looking 21 forever. Perhaps I have to use a little personal elbow grease to scrub away the dirt instead of some spray-on to whisk away the grey or the grease. The one that really gets me: spraying some wonderful scent to cover up pet odours. How about just opening the window? Every one of us makes choices every day and the results of those choices can be seen in our garbage cans at the end of the week.
What are the choices facing us on a larger scale, especially for you young people, our future leaders? This is where Stewards of the Future, one of my priority programs, is aiming to develop the ability of students to explore your own community and to research and discover and document facts regarding issues of concern. It may be a local mine or aquaculture enterprise, a mill or a small industry. We encourage you to meet with regulators and decision makers in your local area and present your research and ask questions regarding these issues. Go to a city council or band council meeting and ask elected representatives to explain a decision that you may question.
Recently, I visited Stewart and Atlin in the far northwest corner of the province. What are your choices for medical attention if the ferry service no longer comes to your community and there is no paved runway for air ambulance? How long can you stay in your community as a senior? These are the very real questions people in more remote areas of the province deal with. Theirs is a very different perspective and sometimes, like the Buffleheads, they are forced to leave for the south when day 298 rolls around. These are the different perspectives I would like young people from across the various regions of the province to learn from each other.
Last spring we held our first Stewards of the Future conference at Pearson College where we brought students who had completed the program to a two-day gathering where they spent time meeting with fellow students from various areas. There was a vibrant group from Parkland Secondary who contributed greatly to the conference. In addition, we brought mentors such as astronaut Dr. Robert Thirsk and author J.B. McKinnon as well as policy makers, business leaders, politicians and scientists to address the group.
All of my programs are based on my three Rs which are not reduce, reuse and recycle, but rather relationships, respect and responsibility because I believe that we all must have respectful relationships with one another and with the land that supports us and that we all have a responsibility to leave our place, in as good or better condition for those that follow.
Last week the Victoria Foundation released their yearly Vital Signs Report. I was struck by the feature story by Dr. Trevor Hancock of the School of Public Health and Social Policy at the University of Victoria. Dr. Hancock warns that because we manage what we measure, it is important to measure the right things. GDP as he points out, which measures the national income, includes the work done to clean up after disasters such as the Calgary floods or our own wildfires. It measures the entire economic activity of the tobacco industry and the entire economic activity involved in treating tobacco related diseases. We count things that harm the health of the environment as well as harming the community or the population.
On the other hand, GDP does not measure all the non-monetized contributions that people make to social progress, ie. volunteer activity or growing our own food, raising families or caring for friends who are ill. How much of the vital service provided by volunteer groups who get out to clean up beaches or pull invasive species is not accounted for? How much of the incredible caring service organized and delivered by soup kitchens or The Salvation Army in communities across the nation and the world does not show up on the balance sheet of any community? Yet these are the vital services that make life bearable for so many.
I understand that the nation of Bhutan measures gross domestic happiness. What a wonderful idea because I am sure that this is a more accurate measurement of the health and welfare of a nation. Dr. Hancock advises that our purpose in life should be, and I quote, “to grow people, not the economy, to maximize human development and the achievement of human potential and to do so in a way that is ecologically and socially sustainable.”
Buffleheads, Bucephala albeola, a small American sea duck of the genus bucephala, one of the golden eyes. This endearing little critter who welcomes spring in the interior and fall on the coast, what a great reason to gather and celebrate. Thank you for allowing me to be here today to take part in All Buffleheads Day and thank you for caring for this special part of our community, our NatureHood.