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David Suzuki reflects on life and death in 'Letters to My Grandchildren'

The famed environmentalist talks about his life's work, death and family before the release of his new book Letters to My Grandchildren.

Famed environmentalist shared 5 personal reflections with CBC upon the release of his new book

Famed scientist and environmentalist David Suzuki releases his new book 'Letters to My Grandchildren' on May 30, 2015. (Charlie Cho/CBC)

On the eve of the release of his new book Letter to My Grandchildren, David Suzuki spoke to host Rick Cluff on CBC Radio One's The Early Edition. 

On family

"My grandparents emigrated to Canada between 1902 and 1906. They lived in Canada all their lives and they never learned to speak English.

"My parents, we came through World War II, they said, 'You're a Canadian, you're going to speak English' ... We never learned Japanese, so I never once had a conversation with my grandparents.

"And when they died, I realized there were so many questions I had. Why did they come here? What was the trip across the Pacific like? ... I had so many questions that were a part of who I am that I never got answered."

On death

"I'm in the death zone now, this is my 80th year. The reality is, I'm gonna kick the bucket at some point. I thought, 'Gosh, if my grandchildren, after I die, they say ... 'I wanted to ask Bompa about this and that', it would be a shame', so I wrote [the book] to ensure that some of the big questions for me would be there for them."

'I wrote it to ensure that some of the big questions for me would be there for [my grandchildren],' David Suzuki says of his new book. (David Suzuki)

On legacy

"I don't give a shit what people say after I'm gone, I'll be dead! I'm doing what I'm doing now because I have a few ideas and a few things that matter to me. I don't care what people say about me. I hope perhaps they'll remember a few things I used to say."

On discrimination

"For my family, they've got Asian genes, they've got a heritage of World War II and the evacuation of Japanese-Canadians. But it goes even deeper than that.

"I have two sets of grandchildren from two different families and my second set, two of them are Haida, they live on reserve in Skidegate on Haida Gwaii. And my youngest grandchild, his grandfather on the other side, was a Metis.

"I know they're going to encounter prejudice, it's just the nature of Canada ... and I want them to be prepared for that.

"I want them to know that the battle of transsexuals, of others [experiencing] gender [issues], the battles of women, or Jews, or Muslims, those are their battles too. Because a bigot is an ignorant person who fears difference without any knowledge."

On naysayers

"A lot of the people that have objected to my positions say well, 'He's against everything, he's against the economy, he's against business,' but you know, that's not what it is.

"Being an environmentalist is not being against all this, we're for a brighter future for our kids and we want them to have clean air and clean water and all of these things that make us healthy."

To hear the full interview, listen to the audio labelled: David Suzuki reflects on life in 'Letters to My Grandchildren'.


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