The dinner I attended in Toronto was a fundraiser for the Navdanya Institute, and a superb birthday present from my mom and dad. I drove 16 hours round trip to get to the dinner, but because of that I was able to make neat connections with an activist who I had already known about (Dr. Shiva) and another one who I am very excited about learning more about now (Maude Barlow). In fact, I wrote a 30 page essay in one of my classes this year about Dr. Shiva and her work! I'll attach it for those interested.
Let's start with some information about the event at Waterloo University today called "Dangerous Ideas: Water is Life." I'm pasting a paragraph below from the Eventbrite page so you have an idea of what the panel was discussing. Here is the livestream of the event they participated in, if you're interested in watching https://livestream.com/itmsstudio/events/7450648.
From Nestle to Standing Rock... From the threats to defund the Great Lakes water protection efforts to the threats of climate change on water recharge and quality... From dwindling fossil water in our food growing regions to regional conflicts over surface water rage... How we respond depends greatly on how we characterize water. While "Water is Life" is a rallying cry for water protectors on the front lines, understanding what it means to recognize Water as "life" impacts what course of action we take at this crucial time.With an introduction from Dr. Shiv Chopra, the internationally recognized leaders on our panel - women who've spent lifetimes in service to the interests of the people - are inspirational speakers who challenge audiences to act. Chief Leslee White-Eye and the Chippewa of the Thames are engaged in a court battle to protect their waters. Maude Barlow and the Council of Canadians continue to defend water rights on numerous fronts. Dr. Vandana Shiva's work towards Earth Democracy began with the Chipko Movement and their efforts to protect water.
This year, Dr. Shiva celebrated her organization, The Navdanya Institute, for 30 years of good work. Although I could go on for hours about why this is a great cause, I'll spare the fan-girling for Dr. Shiva herself. After learning so much about her and everything she has done for Indian farmers, seed-saving movements worldwide, and standing up to corporate greed, seeing her in person was phenomenal. For me, meeting Dr. Shiva was like meeting a celebrity, really. I aspire to shake up as many corporate meetings as she has and support grassroots movements like she is known for. It didn't feel real to meet her in person. Wow.
I also met Maude Barlow, who is an incredible individual fighting for water protection in Canada. She is so sharp! In addition to bringing to my attention some very important issues using countless statistics about water, AND touching on indigenous knowledge systems which I appreciated a ton, she was so sweet and made me feel good about the path I've chosen to take as an advocate for green change. The Council of Canadians website is a great resource for more information, as well as her many books I've recently ordered online (https://canadians.org/).
Additionally, I met Shiv Chopra, who is a whistle-blower who was working for a branch of the Canadian government when he questioned the ethics behind genetic engineering and chemical manipulation of consumer products. I need to read about him a little bit more, but I am grateful for his work banning hormones from Canadian cow milk.
I left Kingston in the early morning, arrived in Toronto at around noon, and took a nap in my hotel room until about 4. After getting ready, I drove to the event at 211 Yonge Street by parking at a nearby car garage. The event was held in the 2nd floor headquarters of an electricity provider called "Orion." They have done some good work providing electricity to indigenous communities in the Canadian North. I learned that the majority of people who were there were simply really interested in local food, sustainable agriculture, and seed saving. It was really cool to discover the same kind of people I've met from Burlington, Vermont to Peterborough, Ontario, but in the big city of Toronto. It gave me hope to see how little movements like this can actually make a big difference. I met a few people who started a seed saving program for elementary school kids, a doctor who went to Mount Allison and ended up in the public health sector in Ontario, Shiv Chopra's right hand man, and so on. We were greeted with hot coffee or tea, and then enjoyed a yummy local-organic Food-Not-Bombs-Like vegetarian meal. I also met a professor from Trent and a PhD student doing a project at Queen's about environmental science and indigenous knowledge. A member of the Ojibway tribe and professor at Trent in indigenous environmental studies told me something I'm not soon to forget... he told me that while it's great to resist corporate greed, and while resisting in itself is good to a certain degree, finding alternatives is arguably more important and also more feasible to devote one's time to in the long run.
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