Together we have come to the end of another year. Last year I sent you my holiday wishes for Peace, Comfort and Hope. And that’s what I wish for all of you again this year. We surely need all three, now more than ever. Animal advocates, like you and me, know a lot about Hope. Every election we hope for a better, kinder government; one that will finally pass legislation to protect animals in a meaningful way. We hope for a kinder world, and turn that hope into action, looking forward to a future where animals are no longer exploited and the natural world is treasured and respected. We know much about Comfort too, because that is what we strive to provide for the animals we fight for. We fight to protect the habitats that wild animals rely on, and to ban the killing of wild animals deemed inconvenient. We fight to get animals out of places they were never meant to be, like farms or research laboratories. In these ways we strive to provide animals the greatest possible comfort; to be free from cruelty and intentional harm. And what of Peace? Not easy to come by these days it seems. But more than anything, I wish all of us Peace – human and non-human alike. People like us have to face head-on the painful knowledge of what is being done to animals, and to our wounded planet too. Collectively, we face these realities with courage and clarity. We strive for change. We support the vulnerable. We should be at peace, knowing that we do our best by striving to make the world a better place for all species. This has been a difficult year for many of us, just as last year was. We all hoped that the Covid-19 pandemic would be under control, but instead we are bracing for the effects of a new variant. There has been catastrophic environmental devastation on both coasts of Canada and across the planet. We are called to ramp up our fight for this precious planet that we all rely on. The struggle to mitigate the effects of global warming, already causing so much animal and human suffering, must take place on a macro level. Decisions made by governments of every nation, and corporations big and small, will determine if our environment deteriorates or recovers. Mitigating global warming is also a personal responsibility and a journey that many of us have already begun. How much habitat we can save depends on how hard we are willing to fight to protect and rehabilitate our lands. How much of the earth’s waters will still sustain the creatures of the oceans depends on how hard we are willing to work to heal the damage. Our journey involves protecting the environment for all of us. And every bit matters. I’ve asked our staff members to share what they do personally to use our planet’s resources more gently. And, I know that each of you also takes actions in your daily lives to be good environmental stewards.
Think of how all of these actions add up. My colleague and friend Lia Laskaris, AAC’s Donor Relations and Office Administrator, shared this with me:
“Environmental stewardship is intimately connected to my whole way of life. I remember learning, when I was a child, that we need to take care of the Earth for future generations. I’ve never forgotten that. I make my choices, not just for myself in the here and now, but for the people and animals who come after me. Recently, I’ve become more conservative in my food purchases. So many vegan products are sold in excessive plastic packaging. In the grocery store, I ask myself, ‘do I really need this faux-cheese?’ I might treat myself now and then, but I’ve tried to learn how to make faux-cheese from scratch. I also prefer to purchase products, like dish soap, at stores where I can bring in my own refillable containers.”
Jordan Reichart, our AAC West-Coast Campaign Director, works from Victoria, BC. Jordan is also the Deputy Leader of the Animal Protection Party. He told me:
“The issues that we engage with around animals and the environment sometimes seem monumental and overwhelming in scope. That is why I spend a lot of time focusing on what I can do in my own local community and backyard. Talking to neighbors about how to live with urban wildlife after a young raccoon was caught in a rat trap next door really helped me feel as though I could affect some positive change in the world, especially when so many issues feel out of reach.”
Twyla Francois is our newest staff member and works on issues concerning exploitation of animals in research. Twyla lives in Manitoba with her partner, who is also extensively engaged in work for animals and the environment. Twyla had this to say:
“My partner and I have been working to re-wild and naturalize the 5 acres our house sits on by expanding the Trembling Aspen forest surrounding the property, planting more spruce, oak, fruit and nut-bearing trees, hand-digging a pond and adding to our native grasses and flower beds each year. The property has been pesticide-free since 2010 and the vegetable garden relies on veganic practices. Regular visitors to our yard include deer, foxes, gray partridges, owls, and woodchucks, barn swallows and blue birds in the spring.”
Vicki Van Linden works part-time doing research and writing. From London, Ontario Vicki said this:
“I love trees and hate to see even one cut down. I’ve planted many trees, even though I don’t own land. Yet, I enjoy building with wood, especially structures for animals like sheds and shelters. So, I try to reduce my impact on forests and reduce logging by saving off-cuts and salvaging wood that others throw away. I’m able to use those discards to build shelters for feral cats and other practical items. I keep useful wood out of landfills and avoid buying new lumber by adapting the design of my projects to make use of the lumber that I’ve saved or salvaged.”
And what about me? Most of what I wear I purchase at thrift stores. And, I buy very little, only what I need. I take good care of what I do own to make those items last and to create as little garbage as possible. I cook real food, most of which I purchase at Toronto’s food markets that sell locally-produced fruit and vegetables. I cook for myself and for my colleagues at the office because I believe that keeping all of us healthy reduces demand for health care products and services. I recycle everything that I possibly can. I walk to work most days, to keep myself healthy and to reduce use of fossil fuels for transportation. I value time in my garden with trees, plants, and fresh air and am less interested in owning things. Thirty years ago, I chose a different direction in my life – to fight to protect all animals and the environment we share. Thankfully, I have not done this work on my own. You – our supporters – have made our work possible. You have been with us through thick and thin. Without your generosity, dedication, and compassion, we could not have achieved so many exciting and important victories. I’m always grateful to you for becoming part of a broader community of compassionate advocates. I know that many of us make personal choices in the hope that our actions will leave more space for animals, and make less demand on the earth’s dwindling resources. Doing our best gives us peace, each of us knowing that we can impact our communities and neighbourhoods in meaningful ways. I am sure that each of you has your own story to tell about what you do to stave off the worst effects of the climate crisis, protecting as much land, water, and air as possible. I find comfort in knowing that together we are part of a large movement built on kindness and respect. I hope that you find comfort too as we prepare to enjoy this holiday season. Thank you for being part of the fight for real change.
From all of us, we wish you Peace, Comfort, and Hope.
Yours in gratitude,
Liz White, Executive Director with Lia, Jordan, Twyla and Vicki – The Animal Alliance of Canada staff
Your monthly donation helps us plan our long-range campaigns more effectively, and gives us the tools to oppose those who harm animals for profit, pleasure, or political gain. www.animalalliance.ca/donate Thank you for your compassion and commitment to animals!