Craik and Saskatoon RCE Celebration - March 1 and 2

Craik and Saskatoon RCE Celebration - March 1 and 2

(Text: Tanya Dahms; Photographs: Crystal and Paul Stinson)

 

(Left to right: Susan Kingsbury, Mayor Rod Haugerud, Roger Petry,

Premier Lorne Calvert, David Walden, Professor Chuck Hopkins)

 

The celebration in Craik included representatives from Craik, Davidson, Humboldt, and Regina, along with the special guests. In some cases, I will refer you to the speeches since we are working to post as many of the original speeches in electronic format as are available. The celebration was held in Craik at the EcoCenter that is part of the Craik Sustainable Living Project. Rod Haugerud, Mayor of the Town of Craik was an articulate and humorous Master of Ceremonies who kicked off the speeches.

 

Mayor Haugerud (image above) welcomed everyone to Craik. He remembered the first time Chuck Hopkins and Lyle Benko visited Craik approximately 2 years ago for a half hour that turned into three hours! Subsequently, representatives from Craik were invited to workshops in Regina that would help define the RCE. Mayor Haugerud as a representative for his community said that he is proud to be part of RCE Saskatchewan, especially since this facilitates partnerships with other cities, such as Regina and Saskatoon, and higher education centers. The role of Craik in the RCE shows that there is not a “gap” between Regina and Saskatoon, but rather the opposite.

 

 

Susan Kingsbury (pictured above), Senior Strategies Advisor for Public Education & Outreach Directorate of Environment Canada, offered her congratulations, acknowledging the hard work to establish the RCE, and suggested that now was time to celebrate. When she hears "Saskatchewan", Susan mentioned that she links the name with success. The example she gave was the television show, "Corner Gas", that has gained so much popularity across Canada. She wished the RCE even more success than "Corner Gas".

She remembered her visit to Craik and how the EcoCenter likely has the best pie in Canada. She thought that "Corner Gas" might hold an episode in Craik in which the praise of the pie lead to the suggested that Craik be renamed the “Town of Pie”.

Susan made it clear that Environment Canada is just one member of the RCE, among many. This truly acknowledges the shifting role of government in this global, yet bio-regional RCE effort. She wanted to iterate that the RCE should emphasize education and engagement, and that the RCE would allow us the  opportunity to be efficient and effective working towards one goal - education for sustainable development (ESD).

She closed her speech, especially thanking Lyle Benko and the hard working team that established the RCE.

 

David Walden (image above), Secretary-General of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, gave an extremely informative talk. He told us how it was the United Nations (UN) that gave UNESCO the mandate for the decade of ESD. He surveyed what had transpired in the 20 years after the Brundtland report, "Our common future” 1987, made by the world commission on environment and development. He pointed out that one billion people lack safe drinking water, 200 people have greater wealth than the poorest 2 billion people (1/3 the world's population), one in five people lack basic literacy, and 50% of 6000 languages face extinction.

Canadians spent two billion dollars on cosmetics and fragrance in 2005, while CIDA, between 1968 and 2006, only spent 12.4 billion dollars in Africa. He talked about the importance of having a vision of education that included democracy, human rights, parity, interdisciplinary approaches, and the empowerment people.

He talked about the four pillars of education (please refer to speech). He pointed out the importance of biological and cultural diversity, where diversity is essential for innovation, creativity and exchange, and that education for SD is broader than just environmental education. Further, ESD must become a basic part of education in which the emphasis must be on basic values and principles.

 

Professor Jon Gillies (pictured above), Director of the Centre for Sustainable Communities at the UofR, took us back to 1992 when the conservation strategy for SD in SK called for both regional and educational approaches. He pointed out that SD does not come quickly, and that the RCE finally realizes the vision of that early commission. He stressed the importance of sustainable lifestyles and building up livelihood assets (individual’s control over their own space meant to break cycle of poverty) and capabilities, and of diversifying our livelihoods to provide opportunities for smaller communities. Saskatchewan has the highest volunteerism in Canada, and Canada one of the highest rates in the world, and so the RCE could be structured to help mobilize volunteers for ESD and research into ESD.

Professor Gilles described the process by which two cross cutting education themes of the RCE were established, along with six local ESD issues:

 

Cross-cutting educational themes:

·          sustaining rural communities

·          educational approaches for a regional ESD

 

Local ESD issues:

·         Climate Change

·         Health

·         Farming and Local Food Production, Consumption, and Waste Minimization

·         Reconnecting to Natural Prairie Ecosystems

·         Supporting and Bridging Cultures for Sustainable Living and Community Building

·         Sustainable Infrastructure including Water and Energy

 (refer to speech or documents)

He acknowledged the crucial role of the Sustainable Campus Advisory Team (UofR) in initiating the proposal, and highlighted other activities at the UofR that support ESD:

Center for Sustainable Communities (CSC), Communities of Tomorrow (CoT), National Research Council (NRC)-Center for Sustainable Infrastructure Research (CSIR), Plains Adaptation Research Center (PARC), Canadian Plains Research Center (CPRC), Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy (SIPP), and the new center of Energy and Environment. He sees the RCE as a unique opportunity to move the entire region forward.

 

Roger Petry (image above) Luther College (UofR) gave an eloquent speech entitled "A Pathway to Sustainable Development: RCE Saskatchewan and the Louis Riel Trail" describing the RCE in metaphor (please refer to the speech posted below).

Lyle Benko, L*A*M*B Consulting, was ill and could not attend the ceremony, however he was certainly present in spirit!

 

Professor Charles Hopkins (pictured above), United Nations University Chair for Education for Sustainable Development, remembered back to a pinnacle meeting with the Rector of the UNU. In conversation, Professor Hopkins and the Rector realized that while creating agreements for governments to sign was important, this would not be sufficient for the radical change that the world required for a harmonious existence. This led to the idea of regional centers of expertise (RCE) in which problem solving would be local, but resultant information could be spread to a global network. The RCE therefore must take action beyond formal education, to other educators in the community (including media, mentors etc.) and use the actual reality of our community as a springboard for our RCE activity. He cautioned that this could not only be accomplished "on the backs of our school children", and that the education must be useful and culturally appropriate. He suggested that we must figure out how to take the knowledge of what is happening now, tie it to what will happen in the future and infuse it with the wisdom of our communities.

Since human beings as a species have the ability to radically change the environment, and project into the future, he reiterated the importance of responsibility for our actions. He reflected on the ability of communities to reinvent themselves, giving the example of the Saskatchewan farmers that came together to bring a doctor to their community, thus inspiring the beginning of Medicare. He noted the importance of contributing to a small town or bioregion (i.e. Craik), but also to the world simultaneously.

(Premier and Mrs. Calvert with Professor Chuck Hopkins)

 

He pointed to the importance of public education, where a knowledgeable public is able to make informed decisions, and how a knowledgeable public was needed to combine sustainability and democracy. He emphasized that an informed citizenry is the basis for politicians doing the right thing, while an informed consumer base is the basis for businesses doing the right thing. Therefore, he noted the importance of RCEs as early adopters made up of people wanting to do "the right thing" …

While in Sweden, he spoke with youth. He informed them that they would either have to help India find 40 million new jobs per year, or welcome India’s youth into Sweden.

Sustainability, in the words of a school child is simply “Enough, for all, forever”.

Therefore, we can ask the questions:

What is enough, what is “for all” and what is forever?

Each RCE is different based on their focus (i.e. Munich, Sudbury, Toronto) – the issues have to be locally relevant and culturally appropriate. He felt that he had to start with RCE Toronto to be able to have credibility, but it was the people in SK that started filling in the blanks as to what an RCE would be. During the latest round of approval, the groups that were around the table included the international academy of third world countries, the International Association of Universities, Education International, and IUCN. Twenty-two proposal had been approved in the last round, and the proposal from Saskatchewan was unanimously and automatically approved by everyone at the table, with no revision!

RCE members are pioneers – people with good hearts who want to discover – a need to become “one planet people”. The RCE idea is a huge experiment and a grand learning experience that pulls together early adopters.

Finally, with respect to sustainability, he quoted Ghandi:

“Enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed”,

and asked the question:

8% of the world have used 50% of the oil, should the same 8% use the rest of the oil???

 

Glenn Hymers (above far left) Chairperson of the Craik Sustainable Living Project (CSLP) Steering Committee, talked about the CSLP (above far right) and how the community fits into that venture. The emphasis of the project is on revitalizing communities and protecting valuable services, now and into the future.

He spoke about several projects, including the EcoCenter for which local materials were recycled for the building of it), their pilot curriculum on climate change in grade schools  as one of their outreach programs, and the development of the EcoVillage. He mentioned some of their projects, such as active participation in one tonne challenge, demonstration forestry, the Craik sustainable golf course, Craik's youth-build initiative  that created jobs for youth, and a regional promotion of healthy lifestyles

He thanked Lynn Oliphant who he called the "father of the CSLP", and Lyle Benko who he says has been the greatest advocate for Craik.

He described ESD as a roadmap to the future, and said that he is enjoying being a participant in the process. He thanked members of Davidson for attending the event and recognized that Davidson also has a number of SD initiatives. Finally, he thanked steering group for pulling it all together.

 

Premier Lorne Calvert (pictured above), Government of Saskatchewan, spoke from his hand written notes, and from the heart. He talked about having a deep sense of celebration for a significant accomplishment, with only three RCEs in Canada and only thirty-five in the world!

He suggested that in order to have change, there needs to be two things:

1.      knowledge (head)

2.      practical experience (hands)

Premier Calvert pointed out that "prairie people" have a good deal of practical experience that will further strengthen the RCE. He reflected on the fact that both the First Nations peoples and European settlers of Saskatchewan were rooted in the soil (close to nature), giving the example that "the first thing we talk about is the weather". He pointed out that there is an importance to be able to participate in a global network of educators, stating that “Now is our chance to make a change”.

Finally, he quoted a First Nation's Chief from Northern SK:

“If there’s enough for me and my grandson, why am I taking it all?”

RCE SK allows us to be part of the whole world.

 

In addition to a number of the previous speakers already mentioned, the following speakers spoke in Saskatoon at the Meewasin Valley Authority on March 2:

(Images of Mayor Atchison, Minister Forbes, Drs. Martz and McCulloch from official web pages.)

Susan Lamb, CEO of the Meewasin Valley Authority, acted as Master of Ceremonies for the celebration event in Saskatoon. She welcomed everyone present to the Meewasin Valley Authority facility and introduced each of the speakers.

 

Mayor Don Atchison (image above) of the City of Saskatoon highlighted a number of exciting sustainability initiatives in the city, including a city green house gas management plan and “right sizing their fleet” (city fleet of buses). Mayor Atchison spoke about Incorporating “smart growth” principles that reduce the need for transportation, and a pilot project with Cosmo industries for shredding plastics.

 

Dr. Lawrence Martz (pictured above), Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan talked about the exciting work of the U of S in sustainable development and sustainability education including the recent creation of the "School of Environment and Sustainability". He noted how the sustainability themes the RCE had identified nicely complimented the themes that the School had chosen."

 

Honourable David Forbes, the current Minister of Labour for the Province of Saskatchewan, was the previous Minister of Saskatchewan Environment who had provided the first letter of support for the RCE Saskatchewan proposal. Minister Forbes noted that with his change of portfolio, the goals of the RCE had just as much relevance as with Saskatchewan Environment. He talked about what it means to have sustainable workplace and how critical that labour force is involved in ESD. He concluded by stating "The call for sustainability is ancient, but the opportunity is now."

 

Dr. Robert McCulloch, President & CEO of the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technologies (SIAST), noted the value of having SIAST and its regional campuses working with the U of S and the U of R at a regional level to advance sustainability. He noted a number of hands-on sustainability projects SIAST students had been involved in including an initiative to address energy efficiency in homes. He also welcomed the idea of the RCE Saskatchewan region being extended to include the city of Moose Jaw given the exciting work of SIAST in that city.

 

Roger Petry’s Speech (Craik and Saskatoon)

 

“A Pathway to Sustainable Development: RCE Saskatchewan and the Louis Riel Trail”

by Roger Petry

Luther College, University of Regina

 

Presentation Made at the Celebrations to Mark the

Recognition of RCE Saskatchewan by the United Nations University

Craik, SK, Canada, Thursday, March 1, 2007

Saskatoon, SK, Canada, Friday, March 2, 2007

 

Good morning/afternoon everyone.

My name is Roger Petry; I teach philosophy at Luther College, a federated college of the University of Regina; I have also been part of a team that has helped facilitate the development of RCE Saskatchewan, beginning two years ago.

 

With so many speakers today, the challenge is for me to say something that others haven’t already said or are going to say. This, of course, encourages me to either be very anticipatory or to go wildly off topic (or both)! As my brief contribution today, I would like to elaborate on the regional focus of RCE Saskatchewan from, if you will indulge me, the perspective of an individual academic and educator.

 

In November of last year, the United Nations University requested that as a final portion of our application to become an RCE we develop a map of our region. Now, to date, the boundaries of our region are still evolving as we discern organizational and community interest. So when we submitted the map, it was quite barren save for an oval around the communities of Saskatoon, Craik, and Regina, linked together by the “Louis Riel Trail” otherwise known as highway #11.

 

I thought I would elaborate on this image of the Louis Riel Trail in discussing the RCE and scholarly interest in its development.

 

To begin, the idea of a “trail” or a “path” is an excellent symbol for what we are trying to achieve in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). If we are in the wilderness, what makes for a good trail or path is its ability to balance a number of factors. It takes us from one place to another in a way that is relatively efficient, minimizing distance where possible. At the same time it avoids hazards or obstacles. It seeks to reduce changes in elevation that needlessly use up energy. It goes past sources of food, water, and shelter; and it passes interesting sights along the way. So when we think of what are the good paths between two points, A and B, there are likely only a few, maybe only one good path. And a map describes that path for us.

 

When we talk about SD, we are also seeking an optimal pathway or trail that does a number of things:

·        A sustainable path shows us how to live within the limits of our supporting ecosystems (living off the interest of our natural capital); it nurtures biodiversity and resilient ecosystems;

·        A sustainable path ensures that the basic needs of all are met; it eliminates poverty and reduces vulnerability by minimizing unnecessary risks and hazards to which individuals and communities are routinely and increasingly exposed;

·        A sustainable path increases equity between current and future generations and, as importantly, within our own generation;

·        It ensures ongoing improvements in quality of life for all, over both the short and long-term, while respecting and strengthening fundamental principles of justice; and

·        A sustainable path does all of these things simultaneously.

What that path looks like in our Saskatchewan region will be quite distinctive though it may resemble the paths other regions choose to follow. When we talk about education for SD, we are, in a way, learning how to use a map to help us successfully follow that path. And, if we are doing research into ESD, we are trying to make our map for the first time, sending out scouts and surveyors to make sense of what initially might seem as  bewildering and uncharted terrain.

 

We can also relate the idea of a path to curiosity. With any path, we are curious. We are curious about where it goes. What is its end or destination? What will we see along the way? A development path that is sustainable is also one about which we can be curious to the extent it opens up new vistas and horizons of knowledge, new ways of thinking and living, new kinds of livelihoods, and even new systems of production. Curiosity or investigator-driven pursuit of knowledge is the heart of the academy, not only at a theoretical level but also in areas of applied knowledge. As such, the RCE initiative naturally unites us as scholars and as academic institutions through our shared curiosity (incidentally, in a way most things are unable to do!). Perhaps this is partly what the UN University had in mind in requiring Higher Education institutions (such as the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Regina and its federated colleges, and the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology in our case) to play a leadership role in establishing RCEs.

 

Yet even further, in exploring a SD path at a regional level, we are confronted with the need for problem-based, situated research; problems that require interdisciplinary approaches and experiential learning—all of which are new, and difficult challenges for universities. These are messy problems, tough problems, agonizing problems, what Sherlock Holmes described as  “two pipe problems”. Or, as philosopher, I am inclined to say, are “wonder-full” problems. So it is natural that as formal educators, the RCE initiative would elicit the kind of excitement that we have seen so far.

 

I had mentioned earlier the “Louis Riel Trail” as a symbol for understanding RCE Saskatchewan and I have said a few words about the fruitful image of a “path” or “trail”. I now want to say a few words about the RCE as it relates to some of the qualities of that controversial father of Confederation after which Highway #11 is named.

 

Despite his tragic end, Louis Riel had many strengths as a leader. In creating the Province of Manitoba, Riel was able to bring together diverse communities, First Nations, English, and French, at a time when mutual suspicion and even hostility between these communities was the norm. In his efforts on behalf of the Métis, he also affirmed the importance of people as a resource worth sustaining. Our ability to respect other cultures is also central to SD. If we can't respect the diversity of human groups on this planet, can we have any hope to respect biodiversity and ecosystems? RCE Saskatchewan also provides an opportunity to respect a broad diversity of organizations as they come together to try to understand and explore the kind of education we need to sustain ourselves and our communities within this region and the gifts each organization brings. This ability to bring together communities to work on SD requires not only commitments to the goals I elaborated upon earlier, but also a deeper commitment to the ethical behaviors (such as democratic and inclusive processes) that enable us to work collaboratively to achieve them. (My colleagues in philosophy raise eyebrows at my interest in SD and ESD, but I view my philosophical interest in ethics as central to both).

 

Louis Riel was also an institution builder. In creating RCE Saskatchewan and in the UN University’s creation of the global RCE network, developing the institutional governance models for RCEs has been a considerable challenge. At the same time this has also been a great way in which RCEs are innovating. RCEs are building structures at a regional level that frequently mirror ecological boundaries rather than traditional political boundaries. At the same time, the RCE network is building a new institutional research network at a global scale to advance the interests of life on this planet at a critical moment in its history. With RCE Saskatchewan we have built upon our identified strengths, including the ability of our communities and organizations to cooperate with high levels volunteerism and in-kind supports.

 

Louis Riel also exemplified courage and an uncanny ability to seize opportunities as they presented themselves. This included negotiating the entry of Manitoba as a full province in confederation upon the withdrawal of the Hudson’s Bay Company and no established authority in the Northwest. RCE Saskatchewan throughout its evolution, has also seized opportunities as they have presented themselves, in part because of the dedicated commitment of members of the RCE to Education for Sustainable Development. We will also need to maintain our courage as we pioneer a new path in education to move us to more sustainable ways of living. Fortunately our courage is routinely bolstered as we are not alone on this path. Instead we are in very good company with a global network of 35 other RCEs on the cutting edge of SD. These are enthusiastic regions and, importantly, regions that have identified themselves as having an interest in SD.

 

Finally, Riel was both a person of vision and faith. Riel envisioned a land that would move beyond the intolerance of the era in which he lived. He had a broad vision for not only peaceful cohabitation of peoples, but also one which saw the remarkable strengths and synergies that could be created among them. With RCE Saskatchewan, and, perhaps as prairie people who are used to looking into the distance, we can also see the big picture. We are being visionary by looking at the kind of education we need to sustain ourselves for future generations: not just 1, 5, or 10 years down the road, but 100’s if not 1000’s of years. We are also being visionary in a spatial way by examining the transformative education needed at a local level and within our region while at the same time collaborating with other regions at a global scale: all in one initiative. Finally, we have a deeper faith that the path which has opened up remarkably before us with the RCE initiative will allow us to show the kind of leadership, strength, and courage needed in our world at this time.

 

As with any good path, we have passed many milestones along the way: our 2 initial workshops in August and November of 2005, our subcommittees that worked tireless in devising our regional issues in SD and a proposed governance structure, those who contributed to and edited our final proposal (including sending many wonderful letters of support!), those who are volunteering to serve on its initial structures, and those who have helped put together this celebration. In particular I would like to thank Lyle Benko who has played a co-steering role throughout the RCE process but is unable to be here due to his health. I would also like to thank Dwight Mercer who has worked tirelessly to bring these celebrations together. Finally, here in Craik, I would also especially like to thank Rod Haugerud and Glenn Hymers for their ongoing commitment to this project and organizing this part of the celebrations.

 

We have had remarkable people working on the RCE from day one, from the communities of Craik, Saskatoon, and Regina, who are united by a common cause: the desire to live sustainably here on the prairies, developing livelihoods and lifestyles that will enable our children and our children’s children to live with an even better quality of life than we already possess.

 

Thank you to all for bringing RCE Saskatchewan to life.

 

Photographs for the following people are credited to the websites in brackets:

Mayor Atchison (http://www.meewasin.com/about/about_us/board/)

Minister Forbes (http://www.executive.gov.sk.ca/images/min_hshot/forbes_hshot.jpg)

Dr. Martz (http://www.arts.usask.ca/college/directory/display.php?bioid=124)

Dr. McCulloch (http://www.siast.sk.ca/siast/aboutsiast/welcomefrompresident.htm)