Prairie Sustainability

Elizabeth May

I just finished a whirlwind trip (by hybrid vehicle) from Saskatoon to the little town of Craik, and down to Regina, meeting new Green Party recruits (yes, there are green Greens), and local business leaders and high school and university students and farmers. I have always loved the activist energy of Saskatchewan. There is so much going on as on this visit as the largest United Church in Saskatoon was packed to the rafters to hear Australian physician and anti-nuclear campaigner, Dr. Helen Caldicott. She made a compelling case against mining uranium and the inevitable link ot nuclear weapons. The reality that the nuclear threat remains was highlighted recently when scientists moved the minute hand on the Doomsday clock closer to midnight, citing both the threat of the climate crisis and the re-emerging nuclear arms race. (No, not Iran and North Korea; the US…)

Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the spectrum from uranium mining, I met with lots of local people building sustainable community from the ground up. In Saskatoon, we enjoyed a fabulous meal at a restaurant called Weczeria. Owner Daniel Walker prides himself on the fact that nearly everything served is Saskatchewan grown. (He had to admit the coffee, fairly traded and Organic, was not grown locally!) But the greens, and the beef and even the butter from local cows all comes from local and sustainable food sources. Everything! And it was delicious. Portraits along the walls showcase the local producers and provide the kind of link from farm to table that is usually out of sigh and out of mind. (Just as well to keep it out of mind if you are eating pork from a hog factory.)

Traveling south on Highway 11, we stopped for a lunch gathering of greens at the Craik eco-Centre. You can find it profiled in the current issue of Canadian Living magazine. The building boasts meeting facilities, a restaurant, and craft boutique. In the middle of the cold and snowy Prairie winter, the passive solar heated building was warm as toast. Deep walls of straw bale construction, keep the heat in. The whole centre is a model for sustainability and the larger community is on board. One mom and her son who joined us for lunch lives in a house across the field, off the grid entirely. Elmer Laird, an extraordinary local proponent of organic agriculture and an elder in the movement, made a presentation on what the Green Party should say about our “chemical addictions.”

It occurred to me that the eco-centre was a “rehab centre” for those addicted to chemicals and fossil fuels.

Life is so good once you break free! .