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Campaigning to make sustainability a basic right

Halifax has officially joined the campaign to add the protection of the environment to Canada’s constitution.

Volunteers for the David Suzuki Foundation’s Blue Dot Tour launched the campaign’s Halifax chapter this past weekend.

“The Blue Dot movement is the idea that every Canadian deserves the right to a healthy environment: to fresh air, clean water and safe food to eat,” says Katie Perfitt, the coordinator of Blue Dot Halifax.

The ultimate goal of the Blue Dot campaign is to add the right to a healthy environment to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In order for this to happen, local and provincial government officials must first get on board.

“We want our municipal leaders in Halifax to declare that they stand behind the idea that we deserve these rights as well,” says Perfitt.

11-year-old Mackenzie Bannon, a Halifax Blue Dot Volunteer, says a lot of young people in her Bedford elementary school are speaking up about the issue and joining the movement.

Bannon herself helped start Nova Scotia’s Blue Dot movement by creating a campaign of her own, as she explained during her speech at the kickoff.

“I have started a letter-writing campaign to our municipal leaders, to tell them why we need the right to a healthy environment, and I hope you will participate,” she said to an activist crowd of all ages.

Mackenzie Bannon, an eleven-year-old volunteer for the Halifax Blue Dot movement. (Photo by Rebecca Hussman)

Because of this campaign Mike Savage, mayor of the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), will continue to receive letters explaining why the right to a healthy environment is crucial.

“If we don’t act now, we might never get the chance to have a healthy environment,” says Bannon.

David Suzuki’s Blue Dot Tour has Canadians signing an online petition for the right to be added to the Charter.

In the HRM alone, over 800 signatures have been gathered. Nationwide, over 60,000 people have signed the Blue Dot petition and joined the movement to protect the country’s environment.

Canada is among the remaining 85 countries in the world that have not taken measures to legally prevent the exploitation of natural resources.

“Over 110 different countries do recognize or see these rights as important to their citizens,” says Perfitt.

Countries such as France and Argentina use these rights as a defense against corporate forces trying to exploit the people and the land.

“Canada is falling behind when it comes to protecting the people and places we love,” says Halifax Blue Dot volunteer Kate MacEachern-Ali.

“I’m a mum, so I want my son to be able to grow up and climb trees, and go swimming in lakes, and not get sick from that.”

“This is something that we in Halifax can do,” she says, referring to signing the petition and joining the movement. “It’s a no-brainer.”

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