Development and Peace invited about 75 young people across the country to participate in workshops about agroecology and how this practice will help us care for our common home. Photo courtesy of Development and Peace

D&P hosts ecojustice forum for youth

By  Patrick Peori, Youth Speak News
  • June 16, 2017

Farmers, not corporations, must come first in the effort to promote ecological justice, a youth forum sponsored by Development and Peace Canada was told.

About 75 youth (ages 18 to 35) gathered in Ottawa on June 9-11 for a “Rooted in Justice” forum to learn about food sovereignty and the impact it has on their lives and the world.

About 795 million people are hungry, two billion have nutrient deficiencies and two billion are overweight and obese. Combined with the industrial food system and the desire for profit, the end result is a problem with our food system, said Elana Wright, advocacy and research officer at D&P.

The answer, she said, is food sovereignty, which means putting farmers at the centre of production.

With that comes agroecology, the study of ecological processes applied for sustainable agriculture.

“Agroecology is really a more holistic way of farming as well as living,” said Katrina Laquian, Youth Programs Officer at Development and Peace.

Laquian said this method brings farmers back to a more sustainable way of living and allows them to grow more varieties of crops, rather than just produce one item. It means they have food sovereignty. They have access to land and ability to choose what they grow and how they sell their crops.

“It means having ownership over the way you farm,” Laquian said.

Landon Turlock is a D&P youth representative for Alberta and the Northwest Territories. He said that understanding the importance of food sovereignty and agroecology means the young participants also have a responsibility to ensure it’s protected.

He said it can be as simple as making sure to buy local food or, on a larger scale, lobbying for legislation that supports ethical interactions with farmers around the globe.

As people of faith we have a responsibility to care for creation, Turlock said, and “social justice is inherently tied to ecological justice.”

Participants at the forum had an opportunity to come up with ideas for action in their own community, which organizers are hopeful will be a catalyst for change.

“If people find something they are passionate about within the information they have been presented, that ensures more movement,” Turlock said.

The youth event was one of three D&P is hosting to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Youth are being pressed about what kind of world they want to leave for future generations, Laquian said. A forum like this allows them to recognize their role and look forward, she added.

Andrea Grace D’Souza, a 21-year-old youth representative for B.C. and Yukon, said the goal is getting youth more involved and knowledgeable about caring for our common home.

“Moving forward it’s going to be really kind of understanding more about how we are in an interconnected world and how the actions in one area do impact a community somewhere else,” she said.

(Peori, 19, is a second-year journalism student at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ont.)

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