2010 Peoples’ Summit: Building a Movement for a Just World
From June 18 to June 20 people from all over the world came to Toronto for the 2010 Peoples’ Summit to talk with and learn from one another in this time leading up to the G20 Summit. They came because they care passionately about vulnerable communities all over the world that are suffering from poverty, the climate crisis, violence and war. They want the leaders of the world, especially the developed world, to wake up to the reality of mass suffering and to address these issues in a meaningful way. It was a privilege to participate alongside these diverse and dedicated people.
On Saturday, KAIROS, along with the Council of Canadians and the Indigenous Environmental Network, put on a workshop entitled “From Copenhagen to Cochabamba, Toronto and Cancun: How Can We Build the Movement for Climate Justice in Canada.” Speakers included two of KAIROS’ partners, Naty Atz Sunc from Guatamala and Francois Pihaatae from the Pacific Islands. Both Naty and Francois were part of our cross-Canada G20 Climate Justice Tour. Also speaking were Clayton Thomas Mueller, a Mathais Colomb Cree from Northern Manitoba who is actively engaged with grassroots Indigenous communities to defend against the sprawling infrastructure of the tar sands and its effects on Indigenous peoples, and Andrea Harden Donahue, an energy campaigner with the Council of Canadians who recently co-authored the report Green, Decent and Public, which explores the important role the public sector can play in green job expansion in Canada. Andrea participated in the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia.
There was a packed house, which attests to the interest that people have in trying to build a movement for climate justice in Canada. The speakers were excellent and were a source of much insight. It was surprising just how similar the stories were from Naty, Francois and Clayton as they talked about the impacts of climate change on their respective communities and about their ideas for real solutions, localization of production and consumption, non-invasive technological innovation, reduced consumption in the developing world, reconnecting with Mother Earth and respecting ecological limits. As in most workshops there was information overload and not enough time to deal with the complex realities of climate change and the debate around solutions. However, it was great to hear the buzz in the room as people shared both their experiences and their wisdom. Luckily, the workshop was not the end but the beginning. As the Peoples’ Summit continued through the weekend other workshops carried on the themes. And throughout the week leading up to the G20 there will be many opportunities to continue the dialogue as well as to get involved with other activities aimed at drawing attention to the issues and the need for immediate action, both personally, collectively and politically.