How Truth And and Reconciliation in Canada relates to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

The Truth and Reconciliation in Canada relates to the UN’s Sustainable development goals in many ways.

A notable example is the UN’s Sustainable development goal of Reduced InequalitiesReduced Inequalitiesworks towards the reduction of inequalities within and among Countries. For over a century, the central goals of Canada’s Aboriginal policy were to eliminate Aboriginal governments; ignore Aboriginal rights; terminate the Treaties; and, through a process of assimilation, cause Aboriginal people to cease to exist as distinct legal, social, cultural, religious, and racial entities in Canada. For reconciliation to be achieved, Canada must ensure that the Inequalitiesexperienced by Aboriginals is significantly reduced.

Another example of how the truth and reconciliation in Canada relates to the UN’s Sustainable development goals is outlined in the UN’s Quality Educationgoal1. Over a century ago, Canada’s residential school system were created for the purpose of separating Aboriginal children from their families, in order to minimize and weaken family ties and cultural linkages, and to indoctrinate children into a new culture.

For children in residential schools, life in these schools was lonely and alien. The staff was limited in numbers, often poorly trained, and not adequately supervised. Discipline was harsh, and daily life was highly regimented. Aboriginal languages and cultures were denigrated and suppressed. The educational goals of the schools were limited and confused, and usually reflected a low regard for the intellectual capabilities of Aboriginal people.

To achieve reconciliation, Canada must accept responsibility for the poor quality of education given to aboriginal children, and act to ensure that Aboriginals have equal opportunities to attain Quality education. “We call upon the federal government to develop with Aboriginal groups a joint strategy to eliminate, educational and employment gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians” as outlined in The Truth And Reconciliation Commission Of Canada: Calls To Action.

We know that colonial governments historically refused to negotiate with Indigenous women, accepting only male representatives when discussing terms of relationship. They then actively disempoweredwomen by attacking the clan systems and other forms of female representation, and by making it illegal for Indian women in Canada to take part in the band councils that replaced traditional Indigenous governments.

The UN’s goal of Gender equality, promotes gender equality, as well as the empowerment of women and girls. For Reconciliation to be achieved between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people, the Canadian government and people must accept wrong-doing in the case of Gender Inequalityand act; to ensure that there is Gender equalityand women are empowered.

 

Truth and Reconciliation Commission, South Africa.(First hearing towards attempts to achieve reconciliation)

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Image Source: 137688-004-EC2CD3EB.jpg

 

My Changed View of Nature

I came across Munir Viranis presentation: Why I love vultures  and Suzanne Simas presentation: How trees talk to each other  as part of the requirements of my assignment. These two presentations have significantly changed the way I view nature and ignited an interest in how humans interact with the environment, and the need to preserve nature!

Firstly, I discovered how fascinating nature really is! I learnt that every organism/species has a purpose in our environment, and the reduction or absence of these species can cause devastating effects to the balance of our ecosystem. Some services’ nature provides include:  Provisioning services (food, fibre, energy, drinking water, building materials, natural medicine); regulating services (pollination, waste breakdown, regulation of flood, drought and local climate, control of pests, disease and pollution);  cultural services (meaningful places, access and recreation, tourism, creative inspiration and spiritual enrichment).

What really intrigued me was that species co-existing in our environment are interdependent! As explained in Suzanne Simas “How trees talk to each other”presentation, forest trees cooperate to ensure that they have a good supply of water and nutrients!   They work together to achieve a well-balanced Ecosystem. For example, living things that cannot make their own food must eat other organisms for food. Other interactions between living things include symbiotic relationships and competition for resources.

Image showing Interdependence of Plants and Animals For Food In A Forest 

 

food-web-forest

Image Source: Julian Glandar. https://inkspire.org/post/a-disconnect-with-nature/-KPF43z

Aspects Of Biodiversity and Nature  that are most important to protect

Plants and animals should be protected at all costs. They provide several benefits for our ecosystem and non-preservation of them will cause phenomena’s such as global warming!

As a result of discovering these amazing things about nature, I would personally make efforts to conserve & preserve both nature and its resources. These efforts include: planting more trees, conserving water & protecting biodiversity.

I also encourage every human beings to put all hands on deck in ensuring that our beautiful nature is preserved and well taken care of, in order to maintain a well-balanced ecosystem.

 

1 Hour Spent In Nature

My time in nature was spent at the shore of lake Winnipeg around evening time, 6pm to be precise. I quickly observed that the shore of lake Winnipeg is mainly composed of sand and pebbles. I stood right on the pebbles for an hour and experienced the beautiful sun set, gentle lake currents and the soothing sounds of nature!

Image Showing Sunset At The Shore of Lake Winnipeg

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Image Source: Ruth Bonneville/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS. https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/support-for-protecting-lake-winnipeg-at-94-per-cent-poll-375411751.html

I also perceived a lingering smell of high humidity and  decayed algae, perhaps, caused by lake Winnipeg’s Algae bloom.

2017 Image Showing Blue-Green Algae along the Shore of Lake Winnipeg

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Image Source: Kristie Pearson. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/nitrogen-algae-blooms-lake-winnipeg-phosphorus-1.4492042

My brief time spent on the shorelines of lake Winnipeg had a positive effect on my mood! I was reflecting on life and the goals that I want to achieve in the next 10 years. My time in nature really put me in a happy spirit. In fact, I kept saying to myself “Wow, there is indeed beauty in nature”.

I will definitely be returning to the shore of lake Winnipeg to tour around & perhaps, discover new things. My 1 hour spent in nature was indeed one of the best experiences of my life.

 

 

Human Environment Connections

What Promotes Human Connection To Nature ?

Being Connected to Nature refers to the extent to which individuals include nature as part of their identity. Human Connection to nature can be promoted mainly by experiencingNature and beauty!

Whether it be the soothing sounds from animals, beauty of the environment, pleasant smell of flowers; Nature is indeed amazing and has to be experienced to understand how amazing it is!

There are parks, forests and water bodies where you can experience the amazing things nature has to offer; and build a strong connection to nature. In fact, just by commuting to work or school daily, you are building your connection to nature.

Therefore, as human beings, we should explore and experience the beauty of nature before the end of our lifetimes.

Image Showing An Individual Experiencing The Beauty Of A Forest

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Image Source: Sonya Elliot. http://sonyaelliott.blogspot.com/2011/08/human-nature-connection.html

What Promotes disconnection from Nature ?

These days, we are increasingly isolating ourselves from nature. It is quite surprising to me that 20 years ago , smart phones, High definition TV’s, wi-fi and social media did not exist. We all know that these devices & invention have made our lives easier! However, the rate at which we are becoming addicted to our Smart phones, and electronic devices is alarming. This has a direct impact on our disconnection from Nature. The more plugged into things we get, the more disconnected from nature we become10 .

Centuries ago, our ancestors survived without some of the privileges we enjoy today(Smart phones, High definition TV’s, wi-fi, social media etc.). It is not a coincidence that our ancestors were much more connected to nature than we currently are! They had to depend directly on the environment for food, clothing and shelter! They cared for the Earth and appreciated its beauty! Nature was basically a part of their identity.

In conclusion, Technology and Social Media can be outlined as direct factors which promote disconnection from Nature!

Image Showing The Stat of Teens Addicted To Their Mobile Devices

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Image Source: Common Sense Media. https://www.cnn.com/2017/11/30/health/smartphone-addiction-study/index.html

Is there a danger to a growing disconnect from nature ?

Indeed, there is a danger to a growing disconnect from nature. With the emergence of more sophisticated technological devices and systems, I do not envisage our addiction to our mobile devices reducing anytime soon! In fact, I see it increasing.

The scary thing about a growing disconnect from nature is that not only do we not take care of nature, we lose a sense of its importance!  We put heavy stress on the environment. e.g the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Also, Deforestation is clearing Earth’s forests on a massive scale, often resulting in damage to the quality of the land11 . Forests still cover about 30 percent of the world’s land area, but swaths half the size of England are lost each year 11 . The world’s rain forests could completely vanish in a hundred years at the current rate of deforestation 11 .

Therefore as humans, it is our responsibility to ensure that we always stay connected to nature, so we can value its importance and make efforts to preserve & conserve it.

A visualization of Nature Deficit Disorder, a term coined by Richard Louv.12

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Image Source: Julian Glandar. https://inkspire.org/post/a-disconnect-with-nature/-KPF43z

Where do my Environmental Ethics lie ?

I believe that intrinsic value should be placed all living organisms and their natural environment, regardless of their perceived usefulness or importance to human beings 13 .  This mirrors Ecocentrism, therefore, it is safe to say I am ecocentric.

The reason why I am Ecocentric is because I value every living and non-living organism on Earth; I believe that they all have a purpose in achieving a balanced eco-system.

Also, Ecocentrism is the key to achieving sustainability. In ethical terms, ecocentrism means we are not concerned only with humanity; we extend respect and care to all life and indeed, to terrestrial and aquatic eco-systems themselves14 . This is a concept I completely agree with. Ecocentrism reminds us that all life is interdependent and that both humans and non-humans are absolutely dependent on the ecosystem processes that nature provides14 ; Ecocentrism has a feedback effect on the way we utilize nature and its resources, because, we place value on nature.

An anthropocentric conservation ethic alone is wholly inadequate for conserving biodiversity14 . Ecocentrism is rooted in an evolutionary understanding that reminds us that we are latecomers to what Leopold evocatively called “the odyssey of evolution”14 .

Can Parks meet its dual mandate of access and protection ?

“There is nothing so American as our national parks. The scenery and the wildlife are native. The fundamental idea behind the parks is native. It is, in brief, that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us. The parks stand as the outward symbol of the great human principle.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt.15

Firstly, we do have to understand that human access to parks is important as it promotes our connection to Nature. However, looking at it from another perspective, can parks provide protection for animals & access to humans ? Yes! Humans have to behave ethically when they visit parks. There should be rules regulating Human behaviour, and fines for individuals who break the rules. The rules should be based on Human activities such as loitering and trespassing.

Simultaneously, humans also have to be protected when they visit parks! This can be achieved by making enclosed cages and barriers for dangerous animals such as lions, tigers, wolf’s etc. This will ensure that Humans are not at risk of being attacked or killed by these dangerous animals.

In conclusion, Parks can meet its dual mandate of access and protection if precautionary methods are put in place to protect animals and humans, and if, rules are put in place to regulate human behaviour.

Image Showing Tourists At A Park In Tanzania

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Image Source: FILE PHOTO | NATION. http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/business/Tanzania-woos-tourists-to-parks/2560-4596772-otv8wwz/index.html

How Wapusk can achieve its dual mandate of access and protection

Wapusk is one of the few parks in the world that does not allow on ground-visitors and limits the number of visitors. The dual mandate of access and protection in wapusk can be achieved by allowing visitors/tourists to tour areas where there are not endangered animals. The Park Management can also create guidelines regulating how far away tourists have to be from specific animals.

This will ensure that visitors/tourists are protected from native species such as polar bears. It will also ensure that endangered species are protected from human negligence.

Also, rules should be put in place regulating human behaviour. There should also be fines for loitering, trespassing, smoking etc

In conclusion, the dual mandate of access and protection in wapusk can be achieved by making a small area of the park accessible to visitors whilst protecting endangered species.

Image Showing A Polar Bear In Wapusk

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Image Source: Eric Baccega. https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/25332816637174033/

References

United Nations Department of Public Information. Available from: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?menu=1300

Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. 2015. Available from: http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/File/2015/Honouring_the_Truth_Reconciling_for_the_Future_July_23_2015.pdf

 The Truth And Reconciliation Commission Of Canada: Calls To Action. 2015. Available from: http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/File/2015/Findings/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf

Bonita Lawrence and Kim Anderson. Introduction to “Indigenous Women: The State of Our Nations”. Atlantis, Volume 29.2, Spring/Summer 2005. Available from: journals.msvu.ca/index.php/atlantis/article/download/1041/998

 Nature Matters – The importance of a healthy natural environment. Gwent Wildlife Trust. Available from: https://www.gwentwildlife.org/node/8195

Interdependence of Living Things. CK-12. Available from: https://www.ck12.org/book/CK-12-Biology-Concepts/section/1.6/

Why I love vultures. Munir Virant. May 2012.  Available from: https://www.ck12.org/book/CK-12-Biology-Concepts/section/1.6/

How trees talk to each other. Suzanne Simard. June 2016. Available from: https://www.ted.com/talks/suzanne_simard_how_trees_talk_to_each_other

Why Our Connection With Nature Matters. Dr Miles Richardson. 3 January 2017. Available from: https://www.psychreg.org/connection-nature-matters/

10 Disconnected From Nature. The Unbounded Spirit. Available from: https://theunboundedspirit.com/disconnected-from-nature/

11 Modern Day Plague. National Geographic. Available from: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/deforestation/

12 A Disconnect With Nature. Roger Wang. August 2017. https://inkspire.org/post/a-disconnect-with-nature/-KPF43AFJMrAkZlU9FiA

13 Dictionary. Available from: http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/business/Tanzania-woos-tourists-to-parks/2560-4596772-otv8wwz/index.html

14 Why ecocentrism is thekey pathway to sustainability. Cryer, Paul, Kopnina, Helen, Piccolo, John J., Taylor, Bron, Washington, Haydn. 4th of July, 2017. Available from: https://mahb.stanford.edu/blog/statement-ecocentrism/

 

15 Theodore Roosevelt. Available from: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/parks

 

 

 

 

 

 

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