Images from Eco-Justice 2020
We have just wrapped up the social justice learning circle on Eco-Justice. CCS students from Prince George, British Columbia to Quispamsis, New Brunswick (and various places in between) are gathering online to explore their relationship to the Earth.
As part of community-building on the first day we charted an imaginary canoe route from Prince George to Quispamsis, picking up students in Calgary, Edmonton, Lloydminster, Winnipeg, Southern Ontario and Toronto, and Chelsea, Quebec along the way. It increased our admiration for people who could find their way around before highways. Diaconal student Hyerim Park, who is originally from South Korea, noted just how large Canada is!
The metaphor of the canoe or kayak trip has come up a number of times throughout the circle. We note when the paddling is hard or when the current seems to be pulling us along. We create community norms to help us talk about what rocks the boat (and when a bit of boat rocking is called for).
In designing this learning circle we took a hint from the tagline of our sister school, the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre – “The land is our faculty.” With that in mind, the CCS Eco-Justice circle has included intentional daily time in nature. Guest facilitator and planner Alison Brooks-Starks encouraged participants to find a place “more wild than just your backyard” where they could spend time each day, observing wildlife and vegetation, engaging with trees and rocks and water through their senses, and reflecting on “what is my place in the world?” Alison brings her background in outdoor education, eco-psychology, and spiritual care. Alison is also serving as chaplain for the circle.
The other framing device we are using in the circle is a focus on different natural elements. On one day we focused on water, exploring global water justice issues and our own watershed discipleship. Another day’s discussions were grounded in earth and land, and the relationship between bodies and land, including a conversation with Indigenous scholar and researcher Laura Hall. Monday was “fire day” which included a student-led session on global warming and climate action. “Air day” was an opportunity to acknowledge the Spirit that comes like a wind of change and to be inspired by long-time diaconal eco-justice seeker Eric Tusz-King (who, among other things, told us not to wait for the church to tell us what to do).