Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Nature is for Everyone - Period.

Two years ago we set out to hike across Canada on the 27,000 km long Trans Canada Trail (periodically known as The Great Trail) with the goals of re-connecting people with nature and diversifying the outdoor community.  Until we set out, we didn't fully appreciate how important it is to say the words 'Nature is for everyone.  No matter what you look like, what language you speak at home, or who you love, we are all part of nature, and it's there for everyone.'  During the pandemic we've given virtual presentations to groups of students and adults alike, and watched as members of the Muslim, Black, Asian, and LGBTQ+ communities turned on their cameras and microphones and joined the conversation literally as we spoke those lines.  It is with great sadness that we see it is more important than ever to keep saying those words, and any others we can find, to try to banish the fear and uncertainty non-white people feel in Canada's beautiful outdoors. 

Two nights ago, three generations of a Muslim family were killed in a horrific act of terrorism while out for an evening walk in the community where we spend our winters and time off the trail.  Here we frequently see people of the Muslim faith out on the trails, and contributing to many parts of this community, and to be honest, we never imagined something like this could happen in London - let alone Canada.  If we can go for a walk free of fear but our neighbors cannot, then something is terribly wrong.  We must not let hatred become the loudest voice in the room, and the only way we can stop it is to speak up with love, compassion, and respect.  Smile at those who look different than you as much as possible, and let them know they're welcome and valued in the community, in local schools, and on regional trails - because they are for everyone. Diversity, equality, and inclusion need to be the norm not the exception. Nature is the hertiage of all persons.   Today we watched a group of young children writing this message on the sidewalk, and surrounding it with rainbow coloured hearts.  Grammar aside, it gave us hope for the future.

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