Earth Day Canadacelebrates its 22ndbirthday with a month of activities.Party forthe Planet
33The weather has always been a staple ofconversation when we meet someone inpassing or hunker down in a coffee shop. Andthis year, or this winter to be precise, the topicreached new levels of interest as people andmedia pundits pondered the baffling lack ofsnow and warmer than usual temperatures. Theanswer to "Where was winter this year?" hasbecome a bit of a hot button issue, especially in light of Environment Canada's prediction of acolder than average winter. Is it part of a naturalcycle? Climate change? La Nina? egardless of where you land on the reason for thisstate of affairs, one truism stands out: allocatingthe cause to some outside force releases us fromour individual responsibility - what each of uscould accomplish if we committed to help lessenand mitigate the impact our daily actions have on theenvironment and the quality of life around us. Too often in our busy lives we look to the media, with their bite-sized snippets of information, to provide us with the guidance wedesire. Unfortunately, while it can be a good source foridentifying the issues, they rarely provide the practicalinformation needed to address them. That responsibility fallselsewhere, which is the reason why Earth Day Canada exists. Originally founded in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson ofWisconsin and Harvard University student Denis Hayes, EarthDay is recognized by many as the birth of the environmentalmovement and the most celebrated environmental eventworldwide. The first Earth Day saw thousands of "teach-ins" takeplace on university campuses across the United States toeducate people about environmental issues and solutions, andencourage politicians to adopt them as policy issues. It waswildly successful; over 20 million Americans participated, andthe US Congress moved to pass the Clean Air and Water Acts,and to establish the Environmental Protection Agency. RBuilding on that success, a small group of Canadians gathered in1989 to organize similar celebrations in Canada with a focus onenvironmental education, action and empowerment. It proved sopopular with schools, community groups and businesses thatEarth Day Canada (EDC) was founded as a nationalenvironmental charity to create and facilitate positive publicawareness for existing and developing environmental solutions.Today, Earth Day is about celebrating the choice to educateyourself on environmental issues and translating that educationinto action. It's about resolving to change the way you do things,addressing local needs, and doing your part. Of course, differentcircumstances require different efforts but one thing is clear: wemust be willing to step outside the ease of complacency,convenience and habit to embrace new ways of doing things inour daily lives that will help make this a healthy, safe world forour families and communities long into the future. This 22nd of April marks the 22nd year people from acrossCanada will celebrate Earth Day. During this time, virtually everyschool child, workplace and municipality will participate in anEarth Day event of some sort. Events will be taking place acrossthe country throughout April, and range from small and privateactivities to mass public celebration of all things environmental.Visit Earth Day Canada's events page at www.earthday.ca to findmany of the community-based Earth Day celebrations near you. Pack up the kids and head out to the Toronto Zoo for the "Party for thePlanet." Celebrate Earth Day and meet Inukshuk the polar bear.