I still haven’t had a chance to catch my breath since returning home from our trip to Newfoundland last week, having jumped with both feet into the Turtle Island Writing Festival the afternoon of our arrival, including hosting one of the distinguished authors. Today I once again hit the road, this time to deliver our eldest daughter to Winnipeg where she is catching a flight to Europe, to spend much of the next two months walking the Camino de Santiago trail in Spain.
Here’s a glimpse of the Turtle Island Writing Festival, where Anishinaabe author and activist Winona LaDuke presented, as well as Calgary journalist, editor, and author of “All Our Sisters: Stories of Homeless Women in Canada” Susan Scott. Local author Kathy Tetlock and arts educator Lila Cano also shared insights and spurred our creativity. This is my favourite picture, of me handing Winona LaDuke the “really cool old squash” she brought up to share with us. The squash is grown from 800 year old seeds found at an archeological dig in Minnesota several years ago, inside a clay ball.
I’ve been rather busy lately, and one of the reasons is that I’m helping to organize an event to focus some attention on the urgent need to address climate change, while there is still a window for action. So, this Saturday at 11:00 a.m., a hardy group of souls, including me, will be jumping into our local lake and raising money for a good cause – our local Emergency Shelter’s local food initiative – at the same time.
For those of you who don’t live in northern Ontario, this may not sound like a foolhardy thing to do at the end of April. However, when we committed to doing this back in March the odds were not good that the ice would be gone on the lake, although the average ice break-up day has been trending earlier over recent decades. Last year, the ice was gone on April 20th, but the average ice-free day is May 7th. This year it’s been a cool spring, and the ice is still quite solid. This is what the dock looked like on April 12:
If the weather had stayed spring-like, we would probably be jumping into open water. However, that wasn’t the case. This is what the lake looked like 8 days later:
There’s actually less open water!
So today I have a dedicated crew (thanks Perry, Chris, and Jordan!) who are going to get out on the ice and cut us a hole to jump into. Then on Saturday, a local scuba diver trained in ice diving is going to be on hand, along with the local gold mine’s ice rescue team, just in case there’s an unexpected problem (thanks Ed and Mo!).
We are also going to have some guest “Celebrity Leapers”. Graham Saunders, a meteorologist and lecturer at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay as well as author of “Gardening in a Short Growing Season” is making the 7-hour drive up to Red Lake to participate in the Leap in Red Lake as well as the local Earth Festival that is happening on this weekend. Graham, who is also the President of Environment North, has been a guest blogger on 350orbust in the past. Also making the trip from Thunder Bay is Peter Rosenbluth, the Northern Connections Coordinator for Ontario Nature.
I extended the invitation to participate in this local event to each of the candidates running in the federal election – Greg Rickford is the incumbent CONServative MP, Roger Valley is the Liberal candidate, Tania Cameron is running for the NDP, and Mike Schwindt is the Green Party candidate. I haven’t heard anything back from Rickford’s office, despite several emails. Mr. Valley declined the invitation but is supposed to be sending a delegate from his campaign team. Ms. Cameron’s campaign manager told me she had another commitment that day, although I see that on the Facebook event page she is now signed up as “attending”. And Mike Schwindt, the courageous Green Party candidate, has been an enthusiastic supporter, and willing “leaper”, since he first heard about it.
So, wish us luck on Saturday! And even more important, consider creative and fun ways to raise the issue of taking action on climate change in your community. Together, we can do this!
Thanks to Dimitris, Marlene, Suzanne, Perry, Catherine, Kaaren, Eleanor, Kelly and Donna who have stepped up to the plate in an amazing way to help make this event happen. As well, Miigweech to the Red Lake Indian Friendship Centre for offering their space, and hot chocolate, on Saturday morning. And, of course, a big shout out to all the “Leapers” who are crazy enough – and committed enough – to take a leap for a really good cause!