British Columbia

Faith groups unite to celebrate Earth Day and speak out for the planet

“We may have different rituals and traditions but we're all looking for contact with the divine, understanding of what we're called to do to make the Earth a better place," said a member of the Nelson Interfaith Climate Action Collaborative.

Costumes, arts and crafts, speakers and parade held in Nelson, B.C., to call for action on climate change

Monday saw 11 faith groups in Nelson come together for a rally calling for solutions to climate change. (Terry Huva)

Eleven religious groups in Nelson, B.C., banded together Monday to show faith communities can play a role in protecting the planet.

The Nelson Interfaith Climate Action Collaborative is celebrating Earth Day with reflection, prayer, meditation and discussions about the contributions their faiths can make.

"I just find it so rich and inspiring," Julia Roberts, an Anglican member of the collaborative, told On The Coast host Gloria Macarenko.

"We may have different rituals and traditions but we're all looking for contact with the divine, understanding of what we're called to do to make the Earth a better place."

The collaborative counts people from the local Christian, Baha'i and Muslim communities in its membership, along with other spiritual groups.

Costumes and kids' activities were a big part of the Nelson Interfaith Climate Action Collaborative event. (Terry Huva)

The theme for the collaborative's 2019 Earth Day celebration is "Protect Our Species."

Some of the several dozen attendees dressed up as endangered animals for a parade and kids planted seeds.

They also painted a large parachute. Last year, a parachute painted by the collective was taken to Ottawa for a climate protest and laid on Parliament's lawn.

Numerous people attended the Nelson event, which had a focus on endangered and threatened species. (Terry Huva)

There was also a "recycled symphony" where a member of the collaborative led people in playing instruments made of recycled materials.

Climate change already seen in Kootenay

The collaborative began in 2015 after Pope Francis's second encyclical called on people of the world to take swift and unified global action to stop the threat of climate change.

The group holds a vigil for the planet on the 22nd of every month, rotating between their respective places of worship — which the groups have committed to making carbon-neutral by 2050.

Attendees held a rally in the Kootenay city. (Terry Huva)

Roberts thinks faith communities can lead action at home and abroad — for example, through international relief efforts.

"I think working together, sharing kindness and compassion with other people and caring for the planet these days means many, many things," Roberts said.

The Nelson Interfaith Climate Action Collaborative travels between houses of worship to hold climate change-focused spiritual events. (Terry Huva)

"The more we can get to grips with reducing carbon emissions, we're not only going to be helping the planet but it's plants, the creatures and all the people on the planet that we're actually helping."

Julia says her faith is focused on care and compassion, and climate change is having an impact in her community already, especially when she sees families who lost homes due to wildfires.

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast


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