Guelph residents are raising their pens to help advocate for stronger action against climate change and reverse nature loss.
On Tuesday, a group of residents gathered at the University of Guelph arboretum to write letters to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault about their concerns with climate change. The letters are part of a campaign organized by Nature Canada called the NatureBus Tour.
These letters, which will join other letters written by residents across Ontario and Canada, will be sent to the Canadian leaders, and be part of an installation for the 15th annual Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which is happening later this month in Montreal.
To help transport the messages are three buses decked out in colourful, abstract animal designs by Canadian artist Peter Thompson. One of the buses was parked outside of the arboretum centre during the event.
Autumn Jordan, urban nature organizer with Nature Canada, said their mission is to bring messages of hope in nature recovery. With the current state of biodiversity and climate change in Canada, she hopes this event can provide a positive space and a sense of community for people, especially young people.
"I can remember being these students' age and feeling that sense of climate anxiety and not really knowing what to do about it, and so I hope this serves as a space for them to feel like they're being heard," said Jordan.
Locally, some schools prepared letters in advance of the event, including Kortright Hills Public School, which a Grade 5 student named Georgia delivered on behalf of the class.
"If we cut all of our trees down, we would get the oxygen that we need in order to live," Georgia said about why she wrote a letter for the campaign.
Another letter from a Wellington County high school student, Clare Fedy, talks about climate change and tells the Prime Minister 'if the current government remains inactive on this matter, they won't be doing future generations any favours.'
"You can't believe a 15-year-old wrote this," Jordan said about the letter.
"It's awesome to have a community that believes in protecting the environment."
Jordan adds the tour also came to Guelph as part of celebrating the city's recent bird friendly designation. Other local environmental groups were part of the event, including Bird Safe Guelph, Birds Canada, the University of Guelph Sustainability Office, Guelph Students for Environmental Change, Wild Ontario and Nature Guelph.
Hayley Wilson, founder of Bird Safe Guelph, said the NatureBus Tour aligned with what Bird Safe Guelph is doing on a community level.
"The UN conference offers up an opportunity for bigger change and there's going to be so many people in power who have the ability to make large scale decisions about the future of the planet, and so it's kind of a way to build from all the groundwork we have doing within the community to push forward for change," said Wilson.
Kicking off the campaign in London, The NatureBus Tour will continue its journey into other cities, including Hamilton, Toronto, Burlington and Ottawa.