Rather than just address individual
environmental insults, the Blue Dot movement seeks to entrench a legal
framework that will protect Canada’s environment from coast to coast. A growing number of Canadians are demanding the right to a healthy
environment. Historically Canadians have been at the forefront of
environmental issues, but in recent years these issues have been ignored
by Canada’s federal government.
The Blue Dot movement took its name
from two pictures of Earth from space. The now-famous 1972 photo of
Earth taken by Apollo 17 astronauts which subsequently became known as
“the blue marble” and a 1990 picture from Voyager 1 which the late
scientist Carl Sagan described as a “pale blue dot”. Both beautiful and
fragile these images changed our perspective of our planetary home.
Blue Dot is a project of the David Suzuki Foundation
and it is proudly supported by Nature’s Path, Roots Canada and Ascenta
Health. Geoff Wills, Ascenta’s Director of Marketing, said that
supporting the Blue Dot Movement is one of the ways the company can
create health for people and planet alike: “Uniting our staff and our
customers behind a common sense of purpose helps give us meaning. The
Blue Dot Movement symbolizes our core values and we are a proud
People in 110 countries already have the right to a
healthy environment. Even though the vast majority of Canadians support
such rights they do not have them. Our natural splendor may cause some
to overlook the fact that environmental hazards contribute to about
36,000 premature deaths in Canada a year, and half of us live in areas
where we’re exposed to unsafe air pollution levels. Pollution costs
Canada about $100 billion a year, and many people suffer from illnesses
like asthma and heart disease because of environmental contamination.
The federal government’s preoccupation with fossil fuel extraction adds
urgency to the situation.
Deplorable conditions also exist in hundreds of First
Nations, Metis and Inuit communities across Canada. To address this
situation the David Suzuki Foundation started the Blue Dot movement
which seeks to enshrine the right to a healthy environment in the
Canadian constitution. The constitutional amendment that the Blue Dot
movement is seeking includes the right to fresh air, clean water and
The Blue Dot movement is building a critical mass that
will compel our political leadership to heed our demands. The movement
calls upon Canadians to pass municipal declarations that respect
people’s right to live in a healthy environment. The grassroots efforts
started with neighborhood communities which came together to change
cities and these cities in turn are coming together to augur change at
the provincial and national level. If seven out of 10 provincial
governments pass bills of rights, we can then make an amendment to the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This would ensure that all
Canadians benefit from a healthy environment, world-class standards and a
say in the decisions that affect our health.
The official launch of the movement all started with
David Suzuki’s Blue Dot tour that started on September 24 and ended on
November 9. Some of the people that joined Suzuki on the tour included
Feist, Neil Young, the Barenaked Ladies, Margaret Atwood, Kinnie Starr,
Raine Maida, Grimes, Danny Michel, Stephen Lewis, Bruce Cockburn, Robert
Bateman, and Shane Koyczan.
The Tour, described by Suzuki as the most important
thing he has ever done, visited 21 cities and towns right across the
country. Thousands of organizers gathered names on petitions which they
then forwarded to their municipal leaderships. Richmond BC was the first
to sign a municipal declaration demanding a healthy environment, than
many others followed.
So far 36 municipal governments have passed declarations recognizing the
right to fresh air, clean water and healthy food. A total of 70,581
Canadians have signed up to show their support.
Together these municipal declaration put pressure
on provincial governments. When seven of the ten provincial governments
are on-board a constitutional amendment can be made.
As explained by an elder of Borneo’s Penan tribe, quoted by ethnobotanist Wade Davis:
“The land is sacred; it belongs to the countless
numbers who are dead, the few who are living, and the multitudes of
those yet to be born.”
Recognizing our right to a healthy environment is the first step in realizing this ancient wisdom in a 21st century reality.
What a legacy to leave our children.
Click here to find our more about the National Day of Action on April 19th.