Earth Day

Earth Day 2021

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2 SATURDAY APRIL 17, 2021 EARTH DAY 2021 By Charlene Adam T h e Earth is resilient," said Pierre Lussier, the director of Earth Day Canada. Lussier is a staunch en- vironmentalist who cut his teeth on St. Lawrence Basin and Great Lakes sustain- ability initiatives. Lussier joined the non-profit organization Jour de Terre Canada (Earth Day Canada) in 1991. He wanted "to do something that mattered with his life," he said. Knowing that Earth Day had a mission in which he believed, he signed on to the non-profit with the goal of making the planet a better place. Last year was Earth Day's 50th anniversary. There were a lot of planned activities, and many of these had to change or be cancelled. But the organization was adamant it would embrace some activities. Lussier said, "You cannot cancel Earth Day — Earth Day is every day!" The non-profit was concerned that celebrations such as tree planting would cease to exist that year. Like many of us facing pandemic restrictions, Lussier made the best of it and "planted a tree in his back yard," he said. Earth Day Canada then decided to approach the anniversary creatively and follow this lead. It invited cities across Canada to celebrate the 50th anniversary by planting 50 trees in their communities as a form of tree planting relay. Lussier saw it as being "like a necklace of participation" across Canada. On the 22nd of every month, until 2022, municipalities can take part in this relay to honour Earth Day. Lussier encourages different types of trees to be chosen at these plantings. The need for tree diversity is a concept that many communities in Manitoba have learned to embrace. Experience has taught us that planting trees of a single species can foster a profuse spread of beetle or fungal issues. "Planting diversity of trees makes it like a forest," Lussier said. His approach to encouraging Canadians to embrace environmental stewardship is refreshing. Lussier wants to inspire others to take the positive actions with which they are most comfortable. He explained, "You can't attract bees with vinegar." Lussier wants to promote a more sustainable planet but is happy to meet people where they are — rather than turn them off with a potentially negative message. "I would like one million people to help, but I'm happy with one hundred," added Lussier. In response to the question of how to make a bigger impact in the hearts of Canadians, he said, "We make life better with events." Without preaching or judging, he added that they want to help Canadians do the right thing. Events can inspire "like poetry," he mused. COVID-19 has made a dent in the non-profit's plans, but some good things have come out of it, too, he intimated. Lussier appreciated the sounds of the city more. Gone are the loud sounds of cars and planes. Replacing these "are the birds and a bit of silence. It's like a real Earth Day," he said. Lussier noted that the website will continue to unveil which cities are participating, but at the time of this interview, Winnipeg and East St. Paul are each doing an Earth Day event. So far, 18 Canadian cities have participated and more than 900 trees have been planted. East St. Paul will plant 50 trees on Earth Day. On the 21st, Winnipeg is slated for a clean-up event. Lussier said that organizers felt this was a good way to honour Earth Day. He was concerned about the number of masks Winnipeggers had found after the winter snow melted. "Masks are recyclable," he said. But it is an expensive process, and each province deals with waste management and recycling differently. This year's campaign highlights images of animals cleaning up the environment. Lussier felt it was a powerful message because animals cannot protect the environment — but we can. Cities are encouraged to participate in Earth Day even after April 22. And individuals can, too. Go to the Earth Day Canada website for further information: Every day is Earth Day " Pierre Lussier Tree Planting Relay -

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