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Climate chaos, pandemic and genocide. It is past time for real change

Nadine MacKinnon

July 1, 2021
Last week a tornado killed one person and destroyed 50 homes just outside of Montreal. This week 134 people in the Vancouver area died in a heat wave so extreme it shattered Canadian records, while Germany was just hit by an apocalyptic hail storm, and Moscow’s streets were flooded with torrential rains.
And as we’re battered by increasingly severe climate disasters, the trees that are so crucial to slowing climate change are being clear cut at a staggering rate: Cabot Trail, the Boreal forest..but logging companies leave a row of trees along highways so people won’t notice. 
Meanwhile, we’re still grappling with the pandemic. As cases decline, we’re told we just need more vaccines, for life to go back to “normal”. But “normal” was increasing job precarity, skyrocketing prices and unaffordable housing and it had become untenable for many even before the pandemic. And although happy to discuss the science of vaccines, news outlets have avoided another scientific truth: The rise in pandemics has been fueled by climate change and clear cutting. So although vaccines may save us this time, unless we deal with the climate crisis, climate-change fueled pandemics are likely to continue.
What’s also rarely discussed is that the virus flourishes where people have been neglected or exploited: India and the developing world, weakened by centuries of colonialism, were further devastated when Canada raided the vaccine supply earmarked for them, then refused to waive patents so poor countries could afford to make their own vaccines. In Ontario, COVID ravaged long-term-care facilities where decades of cuts meant seniors were left to die in their own urine, and poorly paid immigrant women were forced to work in multiple homes just to survive. And everywhere, COVID has flourished and mutated in racicalized communities where poorly paid front line workers live in precarious or overcrowded housing, commute on overcrowded buses, and work in unsafe conditions with no paid sick days.
Then last month, against a backdrop of rising anti-Asian, anti-Black, and Islamophobic attacks, a mass grave of 215 Indigenous children was found in BC, followed by 751 in Saskatchewan, then 182 near Cranbrook BC. They are all victims of the residential schools, and Canada’s ongoing policy of genocide-against First Nation peoples. Trudeau admitted it was “not exactly news” and tried to shift the focus to the Pope’s culpability, while continuing to drag Indigenous residential school victims and land defenders through court.
There’s never been a time when Spirit, Mother Earth and science have given us the same message with such clarity and urgency: We need system change. The hate, greed, exploitation and white supremacy baked into capitalism is killing us. We need to rebuild on a scale that we haven’t seen since World War II but using the framework of Green New Deal - where where no one is left behind, we live in harmony with the planet, and where Indigenous peoples are given back their land, and the stewardship of it. We know what needs to be done. We have the technology. We have the framework. What we’re lacking is the political will.
But we are in this position not just because of the corruption of the 1% but because of the apathy of too many of the rest of us. This is not someone else’s problem. It’s ours.
We must build and populate the grassroots movements that will save is. No one is going to do it for us. So it’s time for each and every one of us to put on our big-person pants and start organizing.

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