Environmental Stewardship and Canadian Citizenship. Musings.

Knut Kitching (Canada, AC 06-08 )


Environmental stewardship and a sense that the wilderness is a part of us is

central to the Canadian national psyche. It has been for centuries, and it’s one of the things we pride ourselves on. It is also one of our inherent contradictions.


As Canadian everywhere know, for us, national identity is defined almost individually, with a few amusing afterthoughts like hockey and politeness that seem to be considered universal. Part of the deeper subconscious definition though is a pride in Canada’s outstanding natural beauty. Sure Canada is associated with the Rockies, the Arctic and Algonquin Park because they’re beautiful, but isn’t it also true that you flaunt what you are most proud of?


Ok so we’re proud of it. The question that rises from this is of course put in the context of a country that refused Kyoto, continues a commercial seal hunt and this week was accused of operating a largely un-moderated Grizzly bear hunt. A remarkable record indeed!


Many of these cases are without a doubt deeply debatable. At the same time as we are told that sealing is inhumane and that the hakapik is a truly dreadful weapon of torture, current St. Lawrence fish stocks are really to low to sustain the kind of seal population that ending sealing would produce. We are told that sealing is a way of life for many, and while this cannot be compared to the Canadian government granting the right to northern First Nations communities the right to take Belugas and Narwhales each year, perhaps we should be reassessing this as well.


Take Kyoto. Or Bali. Canadians elected Prime Minister Stephen Harper (and he chose Environment Minister John Baird), and these two events should each have been a Waterloo for the Conservative Party had Canada, the “Green” and “Globally Conscious” Canada been awake


This is the sort of argument, the sorts of issues between environmentalists, and governments and within communities around Canada, where my point about contradiction spurs from. As deeply as this notion of shared pride etc. is rooted we still rely heavily on a government that all too often is ready to take advantage of our ignorance or at least complacency.


Perhaps this is really a cry from the wilderness then, a plea from a Canadian who thinks he has found a contradiction. To Canadians and citizens of the world everywhere, hypocrisy and twisted logic is evident everywhere, but nowhere more so than in our actions today. Canada could once claim to be a globally conscious leader in environmentalism and sustainability. Can we still claim that?


– United World College Student Magazine –



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