What we want for Mother’s Day: Happy, healthy kids, and a livable future for them

Opinion: We could use some signs of hope from those who have the means and ability to shape a sustainable, just and equitable future

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Mother’s Day is that special time when moms get treated to mostly-edible breakfasts in bed and an assortment of handmade masterpieces from their kids — still sticky with glue or wet with paint, usually with a healthy dose of glitter or crumbs that get tracked throughout the house. They are precious gifts, and we wouldn’t trade them for anything.

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Because what we want more than anything is happy, healthy, confident kids. And what would the world look like if mothers got what they really wanted for Mother’s Day? It would be a world on a rapid transition away from fossil fuel dependency — a world that protects biodiversity and climate resilience, a world embracing diversity and equality, the innate value of each person, and our interconnectedness with the environments in which we live.

Youth activist turned mom-activist Severn Cullis-Suzuki reminds us why mothers should be listened to: “Mothers look out for the future of their children. Not just for today, not just four years from now, but for the rest of their lives. That foresight, that long-term view, is absent from the current priorities of our globalized culture and governance. Our mother perspective is key for humans to find our way back to being good ancestors.”

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So how about actually listening to mothers?

Mothers in BC are following the lead of Indigenous land defenders supporting old-growth forest protection; moms from Burnaby, Calgary, Cowichan, Edmonton, Montreal, Nanaimo-Ladysmith and Victoria are demanding the federal government immediately implement a just transition from fossil fuels; mothers in Ontario are asking our courts to listen to young people asserting their right to a livable climate; moms across Canada are lobbying for safe active transportation solutions and cleaner rides for kids on electric school buses; and moms everywhere are standing and marching and carrying our kids in protests, demanding answers and action from Canada’s top banks who continue to pour billions of dollars into projects like the Coastal GasLink pipeline that violate Indigenous rights and commit us to a hotter, more polluted, less livable future.

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How about listening to mothers who model resilience and fortitude, persevering through systemic violence and discrimination, continuing to speak up even when they are ridiculed, patronized, or silenced. Or to mothers from war-torn countries who nurture their children, families and communities toward health, well-being and hope despite experiencing violence, disaster or forced migration from their homes.

Mothers foster hope and confidence, even when our own hearts sink because our kids are struggling with anxiety, confusion and despair, constantly rising chronic illnesses like asthma, the effects of extreme heat events, flooding and wildfire, and the fear of what lies ahead that is out of their control.

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Because we have to carry hope for kids’ futures, mothers never give up, even when we’re weary and discouraged. We could use some signs of hope from those who have the means and ability to shape a sustainable, just and equitable future. Here’s a start:

• Commit to stop burning fossil fuels and stop extracting them from the ground.

• Honor the rights of every human to clean air, safe water, healthy food, livable homes, and thriving communities.

• Recognize and act on our responsibility to clean up the mess we’ve made.

• Demonstrate courageous leadership, in every sector of society, with accountability for getting us there.

• Match actions with words. Just to be clear: issuing a plan to reduce GHG emissions, and days later approving the Bay du Nord offshore oil extraction project, is not a match.

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Happy, healthy kids. Available future for them. That is what we want for Mother’s Day, and every day of the year.

Celine Burgle (North Shore), Ellen Robson (Cowichan Valley), Isabelle Vilm (Nanaimo-Ladysmith), Jana Rayne MacDonald (Vancouver), Julia Wagner (North Shore), Kate Lawes (Victoria), Kate McMahon (Burnaby) and Krisdy Shindler (Sunshine Coast) are members of For Our Kids, a national network of parent-led, community-based grassroots groups involved in climate action.

Letters to the editor should be sent to [email protected]. The editorial pages editor is Hardip Johal, who can be reached at [email protected].

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Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email: [email protected].

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