Can faith inform Canada’s climate policy?

I grew up in the village of Elora, in southern Ontario. As a kid, I would spend endless hours exploring the rocks, caves, and riverbank of the Grand River as it flowed through the Elora Gorge. My friends and I knew when to expect the water to be higher and stronger. And, we knew when we could easily cross to explore our favourite caves on the other side.

In the winter, we would ski the trails high atop the cliffs that banked the Gorge and get a whole new perspective on the landscape around us.

My love of nature ignited my sense of wonder at creation, deepened my love of God, and defined my faith. A faith rooted in courage and justice and mercy – and a calling to be a part of something bigger.

Throughout scripture we find stories that illustrate God’s love for all of creation. And, there are instructions on how to share this love.

From Genesis through to the Psalms and the prophets’ laments, to the New Testament message of renewal and life eternal, we read of loving compassion, covenant, and community. We are called as the people of God to “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with [our] God” (Micah 6:8).

Making earth-friendly choices as a family

I have endeavoured to live gently on the Earth. I’ve sought to live in a way that honours God’s love for the Earth. As the climate crisis looms large, I have tried to do my part to address the problem.

Still, I find it hard to make choices that are consistently aligned with what I know to be necessary to reduce my family’s carbon footprint. In the busyness of work and school and getting to all the activities that are part of our lives as a young family of five, it’s often easiest to hop in the car rather than coordinate bicycles or bus fares.

We also love to travel, which sometimes means long flights to faraway destinations. And, while we’ve taken a few runs at family vegetarianism – some lasting several years – we’re currently a meat-eating bunch.

At the same time, we use the energy-efficient light bulbs and power our home with alternative energy. We compost and have a backyard vegetable garden. We support local farmers and other local businesses. We buy second-hand clothes and sometimes upcycle worn articles into new items.

Most of the time, we bus or bike to work and school. As a family, we emphasize intentional living and shared experiences over the accumulation of “stuff.” And, our kids understand the value of dialogue in creating change – whether it is with a sibling or a political leader.

I feel good, knowing that we’re making an effort. But when I contemplate the potential state of creation once my children are grown, I know that I need to do so much more.

Moving family choices into global realities

I also know that change is required on a scale far greater than what any one of us can do alone. The impacts of climate change are tied to how we have organized our economy and designed our buildings and cities. The problem is hardwired into vast, rigid structures that are tough to change.

I was encouraged last winter to see Canada play a constructive role in the negotiation of the Paris Agreement on climate change. We joined the global community in recognizing that humanity faces dire consequences if we don’t make the difficult and necessary changes to address the challenges before us.

Now, here at home, our federal and provincial governments are consulting Canadians as they develop their climate plan.

This is a unique moment: a once-in-a-generation opportunity for each of us, as Canadians, to help shape Canada’s future.

As a Christian, I believe that I am called by God to respond to the human and ecological devastation of climate change with love and justice. I also believe that I have a responsibility to my children, to contribute to thriving societies and the flourishing of creation, now and into the future.

Back to the future

Last summer, I took my kids to the Elora Gorge for the first time. I wanted to share its beauty and allow them to explore the place that serves as the backdrop to so many of the stories I tell of my childhood. As we descended the familiar old stairs to the river, it was almost like stepping back in time. Except, the landscape had been altered.

In that moment, seeing the extremely low water levels, eroded cave faces, and well worn dirt paths, I had a glimpse of the bigger picture, of the impact human activities are having all over the earth. Again, I wondered what the world would look like when my kids are my age, and what I might be able to do.

The opportunity to go back to the Gorge had been a long time coming, it was really special to be there with my kids, and I don’t know when it will happen again. In an odd sort of way, I feel the same way about the current climate consultations. It’s as if the stars have aligned and presented a brief moment of opportunity.

Finding your place in creation care

That is why I’ve share these reflections and my climate action recommendations with the federal government. And now, I encourage you to reflect on your place in creation and the role you wish to play in responding to the climate crisis.

If you feel compelled to act, I encourage you to visit CPJ’s climate consultation page, share your reflections, and join me in calling for a bold and ambitious Canadian climate action plan.

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About the author


Karri Munn-Venn is the Senior Policy Analyst at Citizens for Public Justice, a national organization of members inspired by faith to act for justice in Canadian public policy.

About the author