September 27, 2020

BY CODY MUDGE

From the applause you might have thought he was a rock star coming out on stage after the opening act. From the raucous cheers and whistles you might have thought he was an all-star athlete at an autograph signing. Or, because everyone in the auditorium rose to their feet in appreciation you might have thought him a popular politician on the campaign trail. But all of those guesses would be wrong. The applause, whistles and ovation were in honour of David Suzuki, renowned Canadian author, activist and broadcaster.

“I feel like those of us in the environmental movement of the 1960s and ’70s failed to maintain the momentum we gained,” Suzuki said. “That’s part of what this tour is about, recovering ground that we’ve lost in this country in an area where we used to be a world leader.”

Suzuki, 78, was in Kitchener on Oct. 6 for the Blue Dot Tour. The tour, which is Suzuki’s final national voyage, aims to raise support and awareness across the country for the state of climate change readiness in this nation. He sees this as an opportunity to hand the torch to all of us and empower individuals to fight for change. Suzuki took the Centre in the Square stage after the rest of his guests had presented. They included three musical acts, a deep sea diver, a spoken word poet, a photographer, a local native chief as well as several others attached to his foundation.

“Bringing a child into the world can really change your perspective on it,” said Melissa McClelland, a musician and one half of the band Whitehorse.

The other half of Whitehorse is McClelland’s husband, Luke Doucet, who added that becoming parents gave them a new appreciation for the work of Suzuki and gave them the drive to join the Blue Dot Tour.

Throughout the evening several presenters shared not just relevant information about our planet and the environment but also about their personal reasons for being there. Each audience member braved the chilly, rainy Monday night and they were regaled with various stories about why the presenters devoted so much of their time to the jam-packed evening.

“I’m just a young, old guy trying to help change the world,” said Joe MacInnis, a physician, underwater diver and author.

MacInnis has gone on dives with several well-known explorers such as Jacques Cousteau and James Cameron. Diving gave him a unique lens through which to view climate change. The oceans, especially at the poles, are where the changes have been the most dramatic.

“The most alarming part of the statement ‘we are facing crisis’ isn’t the word ‘crisis’ it’s the word ‘we’,” said Shane Koyczan as he performed a poem written for the Blue Dot Tour.

The poem, entitled Shoulders, rose and fell through verbiage and in tone. In it, Koyczan posited that the burden to enact change and take action cannot be left to a single person. His passion was enthralling and his message uplifting.
Koyczan’s conclusion was as meaningful as it was intimidating, that the fate of the world rests on the shoulders of each and every one of us.

“We are Atlas now.”

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