Health & Wellbeing

Human health is intimately connected to the health of the planet. We need fresh water, clean oceans, and natural spaces that contain a rich array of animals, insects and plants. Promoting education about and recreation in our natural spaces has been a part of the Sierra Club philosophy since it was founded in 1892.

Webinar: Eco-anxiety, eco-grief, and solastalgia - approaches for activists

In this webinar, we will explore emotional responses to environmental collapse, improve our understanding of cultural histories of environmental movements, and explore strategies that communities have developed and are using to manage heavy emotions in their work and mobilize emotion toward positive community-building.

We will explore how our heavy emotional responses to the climate crisis can undermine collective environmental movements, and how we can instead mobilize them effectively to develop a more open, more dynamic activist culture focused on collective action in mutual recognition. Join us!

Speaker:

Dr. Jennifer Baker is the Vice President of the Sierra Club Canada Foundation, a poet, and an Professor in the Department of English at the University of Ottawa, where her research interests include the cultural history of agriculture in Canada, environmental history, literature and the environment, cultural studies, and Canadian poetry and poetics. Passionately committed to knowledge mobilization, she has spoken widely in the field of environmental humanities and was one of the founding speakers on eco-anxiety at the Sustainable Events Forum. Her first chapbook, Abject Lessons, was published in 2014 by above/ground press and her creative writing, essays, and reviews have appeared in various literary publications including Dusie, Ottawater, The Bull Calf, The Journal of Canadian Poetry, and Canadian Literature. Her second chapbook, Groundling, is forthcoming from Trainwreck Press (2021).

Click for a copy of the slides or Dr. Baker's Reading List
 
We regret that the first minute of the session was not recorded.  Jenn has asked us to include her land acknowledgement here.  
 
"I am presenting this webinar from the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe people. As an uninvited guest on this land, I acknowledge that I have certain obligations: to understand our treaties, to uplift and protect the rights of the original caretakers and knowledge keepers of this land, and to try to build better relations with this land and the traditional stewards of this place."
 

BreatheEasy

 

Do YOU know the quality of air you breathe? Many people do not. 

Air quality (AQ) and its impacts are rarely discussed. It remains a silent killer. 

Breathe Easy is looking to change that.

 

Healing land and people: native plants, pollinators, and food

Habitat loss, species decline, climate change, food insecurity, and even mental health are all connected by one common thread; the need for change in our agricultural system. With complexities around inequity, corporatization, transport and more, the monolith of the global agroeconomy is far too large to take on in its entirety. But that’s not what this talk is about; let’s chat about something you CAN do to make a positive change in this system. We need more hands to pick, pluck, plant and spread native plants across Canada. Join me, Junaid Shahzad Khan, on a journey into the world of native plants and the solutions their revival can hold for us and our non-human friends. 

Thursday, May 27th, 2021 for 40 minutes at 6:30pm Eastern / 7:30pm Atlantic / 3:30pm Pacific

The speaker: Junaid Shahzad Khan is an ecologist and educator who works with Pollinator Partnership Canada, Birds Canada, University of British Columbia, University of Guelph, and a network of grass-roots land activists to help regenerate habitat and communities across southern Ontario. Junaid has created easy-to-follow and accessible courses to help people of all knowledge levels learn about the wonderful world of habitat creation. His most recent course, At Home with Birds can be found at https://www.udemy.com/course/at-home-with-birds/ 

All Hands on Deck: A Telling Tale of Tailpipes

In Canada, roughly one-third of us live near a major road. Close proximity to major roads increases our exposure to air pollution, and the health risks that come with it.

What do we know about traffic-related air pollution and what can we do about it?
 

Our webinar will feature prominent researcher and University of Toronto professor Dr. Greg Evans. Dr. Evans’ research focuses on air pollution, and understanding its impacts on human health and the environment.

The webinar will also feature emerging findings from a community-based air quality campaign, Breathe Easy. The campaign’s goal is to use citizen science to monitor local air quality and use the findings to inspire community action on air pollution.

We’re surrounded by traffic everyday. We pass by throngs of cars as we walk our kids to school; we sit in gridlock traffic driving to and from work; we hear cars whizzing by our homes that are located beside major roadways.

If we spend enough time near major roads and highways where concentrations of air pollutants are disproportionately high, we can be at risk for health problems.

How big is the problem of traffic-related air pollution? What exactly causes air pollution? Does season matter? What’s more important - the type of vehicle or how many cars are on the road?

Understanding traffic-related air pollution is a big first step to improving it - and protecting our health.

The holiday tradition we’d be better off without

Whether or not we actually celebrate Christmas, we’re often surrounded by images of a traditionally decorated living room during the holiday season. These scenes often include a lavishly decorated tree, neatly wrapped presents, stockings hung from a mantel, festoons of miscellaneous greenery, and of course… the log fire in the fireplace. There are many “inconvenient truths” about wood burning. Let’s start with one of them: no matter how dry and well-seasoned the fuel, wood smoke is a dangerous air pollutant. Sadly, wood burning is often unrecognized as a problem. It’s often socially acceptable to light a fireplace, even if it means blanketing a neighbourhood with harmful smoke.

Ring of Fire Assessment: An Assessment of Reflections From the Members of Nishnawbe Aski Nation Territory

By: Joseph Duncan and Aleksandra Spasevski.

In honour of Ringo Fiddler. 

Ontario’s Far North recently received attention due to the $60 billion chromite mining potential. The massive mining project is known as the Ring of Fire. Both provincial and federal leaders have identified this mining opportunity as a multigenerational opportunity that can create both economic and societal benefits for communities (Chetkiewicz & Lintner, 2014).

Field Notes from a Citizen Scientist

I live a few hundred metres from the Queensway in Ottawa, and have long wondered about the air quality in the neighbourhood. Is my proximity to the highway and a major feeder road bad for my health? Ottawa is quite green, but is the air quality okay? After reading about the Breathe Easy campaign in an Ottawa Citizen article, I put my hand up to get involved. After a quick tutorial by the friendly local coordinator, Jake Cole, I set out to take some readings, and made a few observations along the way:

Un article de Gérard Montpetit sur les stratégies juridiques des compagnies pétrolières

Un article percutant sur les stratégies des pétrolières afin de promouvoir leurs intérêts au détriment de l’acceptabilité sociale, de la santé et du bien commun des citoyens.

L’auteur, Monsieur Montpetit, membre du CCCPEM (Comité des citoyens et citoyennes pour la protection de l’environnement maskoutain), nous dévoile les procédés déconcertants de ces compagnies gazières et pétrolières, qui n’hésitent pas à utiliser de manière abusive les tribunaux afin de réduire les opposants au silence.

An article by Gérard Montpetit on the legal strategies of oil companies

A powerful article on the strategies of oil companies to promote their interests at the expense of social acceptability, health and citizens' common good.

The author, Mr. Montpetit, a member of the CCCPEM (Comité des citoyens et citoyennes pour la protection de l'environnement maskoutain), reveals the disconcerting procedures of these oil and gas companies, which do not hesitate to use the courts in an abusive manner in order to silence opponents.

Bad air quality day

You may be aware that there is an air quality advisory out right now from our provincial government. It tells us that the wildfires currently burning in Northern Ontario are causing air pollution levels to rise in many parts of the province. You can get these advisories by signing up via this link.

This latest alert tells us that the AQ levels are at the unhealthy level right now in many areas across Ontario including here in Ottawa. It also tells us to stay inside and not to exert ourselves physically too much.

How serious is air pollution? We need to dig a little deeper to find out.

How serious is air pollution in Ottawa? We have our BreatheEasy project underway to find out. First, using small hand held air sensors, we are measuring air quality in different areas all across the city and reporting our results publicly. We are also digging out existing information on air quality from a variety of sources both in Canada and around the world. It turns out that globally, there are a lot of people doing serious work on this subject and are readily sharing their findings with open reports and research results.

All Hands on Deck Webinar - How's the Air You're Breathing?

How's the air we breathe today? Most of us would likely answer that question with "It seems fine", assuming that air quality is not something to worry about. You might be right. However, depending on where you live, work and play, every day you may be breathing unhealthy air - air that is potentially dangerous to your health and those around you.

Consider these facts, backed up by credible sources:
1. In Canada, about 14,600 die from dirty air quality every year.
2. Worldwide, only about 5% of us are breathing truly healthy air.
3. Living near a busy intersection can increase the risk of contracting dementia later in life.
4. Air pollution can cause a measurable decrease in IQ for children and a measurable loss in lung function.
5. Across the world, dirty air causes some seven million early deaths annually

The Sierra Club Canada Foundation has a project underway to measure and report on the outdoor air quality (AQ) in the city. While the official, government-operated AQ station in Ottawa reports levels generally in the "Low Risk" category, our preliminary air tracking results are finding areas, or air pollution 'hotspots', where the AQ can be quite dangerous. In this webinar, we will be showing what we've measured so far, what impact this may be having on our health, and we'll talk about possible actions we can take, as individuals and collectively at a city-wise basis, to improve the air we are breathing every day.

The speaker, Jake Cole, is retired from a career in six departments in our federal government. Amongst other roles, he was former Environment Director, Canadian Coast Guard; National Manager, Canada's R-2000 Home Program; Canada's representative for renewable energy projects with the International Energy Agency. He ran a well-received employee health and wellness program for one of Canada's largest federal departments. He co-chaired the national charity, Prevent Cancer Now. He has run for the federal Green Party twice (coming third in his riding in 2008 with one of the highest percentage of Green Party voters in Canada). He is currently with the Sierra Club Canada Foundation, leading a team of volunteer 'Citizen Scientists' on a project to measure and report on air quality in the Ottawa region.