ACTIONS FOR YEAR III
CANADIAN ECUMENICAL JUBILEE INITIATIVE
Over the coming year (Sept. 2000-2001), the Canadian Ecumenical Jubilee Initiative (CEJI) is endorsing actions at a national and international level aimed at Righting Relationships with the Earth and with Aboriginal Peoples (see p. 21). Church communities are also invited to become `Jubilee communities' through the pledge process that began last year. (For information on the pledge, see the December `99 issue of Scarboro Missions or contact CEJI for an updated version.)
As well, we at Scarboro Missions suggest below a series of possible actions at a local and community level. We realize that no one person or any one community will be able to undertake all. Rather, they are meant to serve as helpful suggestions as you seek to right relationships.
...AT A PERSONAL AND LOCAL LEVEL
ENGAGE IN AN ECOLOGICAL SABBATH
At the heart of Jubilee is the idea of Sabbath. Sabbath calls us to move away from a lifestyle based on ever-expanding consumption and ceaseless activity to a radical practice based on enjoying the goodness of God's creation, living an 'ethic of enough,' and sharing with others.
• Take time to simply be in nature. Try to practice simple awareness (or mindfulness), be it of the air you breathe, the water you drink, or the feel of your footsteps as you walk. Contemplate God in the midst of creation.
• Learn about plants and animals native to your area, as well as about the interconnection of life in local ecosystems. Introduce children to the natural world; take time as a family to learn as much as you can. (The average North American can recognize over 1,000 corporate logos, but fewer than 10 local plant and animal species.)
• Simplify your lifestyle, reducing consumption as much as possible. Avoid products that involve toxic chemicals or that produce significant quantities of waste. Choose products that can be reused. Do more recycling and composting.
• Cut pollution by refraining from the use of private automobiles whenever possible. Use public transit where available and take time to walk or bicycle; try to carpool; use energy-efficient vehicles; keep your car well-tuned to avoid unnecessary pollution.
LIVE LIGHTLY ON THE EARTH
Living an `ethic of enough' goes a long way in reducing the harm we do to the Earth and the many creatures who share this world with us.
• Eliminate the use of chemical cleaners, pesticides, and herbicides in your home. Buy local produce and if possible, that which has been organically grown.
• Buy recycled paper products and choose wood that does not originate from old-growth forests. Look for products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (Website: www.fscoax.org). If local lumber suppliers do not carry certified wood, ask that they start doing so, and get others to ask also.
• Find ways to use or support sustainable energy sources like solar and wind generated electricity. (In some parts of Ontario, alternative energy co-operatives are now selling such electricity.)
• If you have investments (including retirement savings), use these to support companies with the most just and ecologically responsible practices. To begin, consider ethically-screened investment funds. Contact the Social Investment Organization at Tel: 416-461-6042; Website: www.social investment.ca
LEARN ABOUT ABORIGINAL PEOPLES AND ABORIGINAL RIGHTS CONCERNS
A first step to righting relationships with Aboriginal peoples is to learn about the history, culture, spirituality, and current situation of the First Nations in your area. Righting our relationship calls us to reach out and form bridges between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples.
• Visit local Aboriginal Friendship Centres that facilitate firsthand learning and direct relationships with Aboriginal peoples.
• Become involved with local groups working on Aboriginal justice issues.
... AT A CHURCH AND LOCAL LEVEL
TAKE PART IN ACTION ON RIGHTING RELATIONSHIP WITH ABORIGINAL COMMUNITIES
The actions undertaken at a personal level can be extended to the entire church community. Once again, the first step should be to try to create greater under standing and to form real links with the Aboriginal peoples living closest to you.
• Organize an informal social event like a meal, speaking event or information night that includes Aboriginal leaders and elders speaking to your parish or church community group.
• Become involved as a parish in local and national Aboriginal rights issues.
BECOME AN ECOLOGICALLY ENGAGED PARISH
Churches could be more at the centre of promoting ecological harmony. Now is the time to make ecological consciousness an integral part of our faith.
• Organize a retreat or meditation time to reflect on the theme of righting our relationship with the Earth.
• Promote the idea of ecological Sabbath in your parish or ecumenically. Support projects for ecological renewal at the local, national, and global level.
• Weave ecological themes, and their interconnection to justice issues, into your liturgical life. Incorporate symbols from nature and the cycle of the seasons into prayer and liturgy.
• Look at eliminating the use of toxic chemicals in the church; seek ways to increase energy efficiency; promote carpooling to church. How much church land is used for parking? Could some of this be freed up for green spaces or community gardens? (Contact the Inter-Church Committee on Ecology about workshops to help your church become more energy efficient).
WORK FOR AN ECOLOGICALLY HEALTHY COMMUNITY
Both churches and local organizations can do much to create more ecologically healthy communities. Often, restoring ecological health also helps create a renewed community spirit and healthier local economies as well.
• Engage in projects aimed at cleaning and restoring local watersheds and in initiatives to preserve native plant and animal life.
• Support ventures that seek to strengthen local economies and reduce dependence on non-local goods. This reduces the tremendous amounts of energy used to transport products from far away. At the same time, the implications of our economic choices are more evident to the extent that we rely on local production. Above all, try to avoid exporting ecological costs (wastes, pollution, forest destruction, etc.) to places where they are 'out of sight, out of mind.'
• Organize or participate in Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) projects that form direct relationships between farmers and consumers, often involving organic production. Church facilities can be used to help organize these projects and distribute produce. At the same time, new links between rural and urban parishes can be forged. (For a list of CSA projects in Canada contact www.biodynamics.com/canada.html)
AT A NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL LEVEL
Information on the following actions including background materials, sample letters, postcards, and petitions may be found on the Canadian Ecumenical Jubilee Initiative website: www.web ceji-iocj.org
For more recent resources and campaigns please contact: KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives 129 St. Clair Ave. W Toronto, ON CANADA M4V 1N5 Tel: 416-463-5312 Toll Free: 1-877-403-8933 Web Site: www.kairoscanada.org
ACTION ON ABORIGINAL RIGHTS IN CANADA:
This is a call for justice and action for Aboriginal peoples based on the biblical theme, Renewal of the Earth. The goal of this education and advocacy campaign is to enhance awareness and understanding of Aboriginal land rights and justice issues, and the importance of land to Aboriginal peoples, by examining this biblical theme from an Indigenous point of view.
The advocacy component involves a petition directed at the Prime Minister that calls for a renewed relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples based on mutual respect, responsibility and sharing. The petition also joins with the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and the United Nations Human Rights Committee in calling on the federal government to act immediately to establish a truly independent commission with the mandate to implement Aboriginal land, treaty and inherent rights.
ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE:
Climate change is one of the most urgent ecological issues of our time. Greenhouse gases produced by human activity are rapidly warming the Earth, creating a major climatic shift. It is estimated that global temperatures have risen over 1 °C. Without sharp curbs in greenhouse gas emissions, global temperatures could rise another 2°C over the next 50 years, and as much as 10°C in parts of Canada. As a result, ocean levels will rise, forest fires will become more frequent, severe weather will increase (storms, flooding, and droughts), and entire climatic zones-especially in the Arctic-will radically shift.
This campaign calls upon federal and provincial governments to take effective steps to limit human-induced climate change and to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. As well, it calls upon Imperial Oil to end its opposition to ratification of this international agreement to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions.
ACTION TO REGULATE CORPORATE CONDUCT:
Around the world, hydroelectric dams, mining activities, forestry projects, and oil exploration often lead to widespread ecological devastation, the destruction of Aboriginal cultures, and other human rights abuses. A good number of Canadian corporations are involved in this kind of `development.' To make matters worse, a Canadian crown corporation called the Export Development Corporation (EDC) frequently helps finance their activities.
This action calls on the Canadian government to effectively regulate Canadian corporations and the EDC in their activities here and abroad to ensure that they comply with internationally recognized human rights agreements, respect essential ecological standards, and respect the rights and treaties made with Aboriginal peoples. In particular, it seeks amendments to the Export Development Act and the Canada Business Corporations Act to ensure compliance with these standards and to provide greater access to information on the publicly-owned EDC.
CONTINUED ACTION ON DEBT CANCELLATION:
While we have seen significant movement by the federal government due to the continuing pressure of the Jubilee debt campaign, important goals still elude us. Our partners in the global South seek the end of debt that is oppressing their peoples. The Canadian Ecumenical Jubilee Initiative launches "a campaign of persistence" with renewed demands: immediately and unconditionally cancel debts of poor countries, assess and cancel illegitimate debts of all developing countries, and end structural adjustment. Actions next year will include education through popular theatre (The Debt Circus), continued lobbying by grassroots, and a national day of 'presence' in January 2001.