A Special Message From David Suzuki


By David Suzuki

The pandemic is a crisis for humanity.

But even in these dark days, there’s so much light.

To shelter in place, our species has slowed its frenetic pace. And, as a result, nature is healing! Infectious gratitude is everywhere.

In my hometown of Vancouver, people emerge daily to cheer front-line workers keeping us healthy and fed. In Montreal, neighbourhoods organize street parades, complete with physically distanced dancers. We’re growing gardens, cloud and critter watching, cycling and walking outdoors. It’s a collective re-setting of social priorities.

COVID-19 has spurred human ingenuity to create new ways to connect over vast distances. Scientists are working together on tests and vaccines. Businesses and organizations, including the David Suzuki Foundation, have morphed into all-digital workplaces — even old guys like me are cyber-literate!

Humanity has proven the power of the collective to overcome obstacles before, such as with the civil rights and women’s movements. Let’s leverage that immense power for the greatest common good: safeguarding Earth’s life-support systems, which is the best way to protect a future for our children.

Because in the midst of COVID-19 — and when we eventually get to the other side of it — the critical work of protecting the planet must continue. Our species and the myriad others that share this precious world — the only place in the universe know to harbour life — needed clean air, safe water, toxic-free food and a stable climate long before the pandemic. And we’ll need it afterward.

In 2012, Joe Oliver, then Canada’s federal natural resources minister, called environmentalists “radicals” and the Foundation launched a fundraising campaign to take “radical” back. Radically Canadian started as a defence against those who ignore the urgency of climate change.

Today, being “radical” means something else.

It’s not about antagonism. It’s about unity, kindness and generosity — to each other and to the Earth that sustains us.

Caring about the air, water and land that give us life. Exploring ways to ensure Canada’s natural resources serve the national interest. Maintaining and strengthening values that have long defined our nation. Building on progress we’ve made over the years to create a society based on compassion, equity and respect for the people and places we love. If those qualities make us radicals, then I and many others wear the label proudly. We are radically Canadian!

All my life, everywhere I’ve travelled, I’ve always been proud to say I’m Canadian. We’re known worldwide as peacemakers, as people who open our doors and hearts to feed, shelter and comfort refugees and other troubled strangers. We embrace diversity in a mosaic culture. We go out of our way to help our neighbours in need. We value caring over competition.

To overcome this pandemic, most people are willing to accept change in their lives. Canada can and must harness that power to meet its international climate commitments and help conserve and recover biodiversity.

Over the next few months, our governments will invest hundreds of billions to stimulate our economy. These decisions will determine the future of our nation and the planet. Will we rebuild as before, and repeat the same mistakes, or will we heed the science and take care of what we need to survive?

The word “radical” comes from the Latin “radix,” which means “root.” Let’s get rooted to what really matters. Nature matters. Things once considered radical — a green economy and a just, equal, sustainable society — are now just common sense.

We’re at a crossroads. Our decisions will determine our future for decades to come.

I’m proud to be radically Canadian. How about you?