Around 250 people gathered at the recreation centre in Ormstown on Earth Day, April 22, to celebrate the global movement that supports environmental protection with a very local response.
Representatives from 20 regional environmental groups and social organizations were present, to initiate conversations with visitors about local environment and sustainability actions and to find ways of better working together to address environmental issues. Participants were also able to hear presentations from guest speakers including Salaberry-Suroît MP Claude DeBellefeuille who spoke about citizen engagement, organic farmer Ian Ward who discussed agriculture’s role in fighting climate change, and Jeff Turner who made the case for electric vehicles in rural regions.
“I was thrilled. It felt really magical, the way it all came together,” says the forum’s organizer, Lorelei Muller, who only started planning the event in partnership with the 1st Ormstown Scouts in March, and on a shoestring budget. “I started with all of the local environmental groups, but I also wanted to include groups that we don’t necessarily think of as environmental,” she explains. “It was a good opportunity for different organizations to talk about the steps they are taking and to be included in the conversation,” she continues.
Muller says she was also very happy to see different connections being made between some of the local organizations. For example, leaders from the local Scouting movement were able to speak with representatives from Ambioterra, and the two organizations may work together to organize a shoreline cleanup later in the year. Huntingdon MNA Carole Mallette was also able to speak candidly with local members of the Union des Producteurs Agricoles, as well as the women who are organizing a local Butterfly Way project.
The event also resulted in very direct impacts. Some volunteers took part in a community cleanup that resulted in the collection of several bags of trash. Names were collected by Rémi Pelletier of the CDC du Haut-Saint-Laurent from among the different organizations present with the goal of creating a regional round table on the environment. And the Genie in a Bottle Project was able to collect around 60 pounds of can tabs, 50 pounds of batteries, approximately 630 wine and beer bottles, and around 1,000 cans for recycling.
“It was all received very positively, and people are looking forward to a future edition,” says Muller, who admits she has already started thinking about next year when the event will likely move to Chateauguay Valley Regional High School to better accommodate more kiosks, workshops, and guest speakers.