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by Tobin Day

"We reject an either or approach;
we do not believe that we must decide
between working to help human beings or
working to stop environmental abuses,
between politics and spirituality,
between humans and the rest of nature."
Carol J. Adams, Ecofeminism and the Sacred

As a child I was exposed to environmental issues through my father's work. Watching the political and social transformation of public and private land into park land showed me how closely humans are connected to nature through money and history.

Later, in university, I felt comforted and inspired by feminism. Surrounding myself with like-minded women and men, I worked towards ending violence against women and towards an ecologically sound approach to women's health.

YouthSpeaks team on retreat
YouthSpeaks Team On Retreat

Through my life I feel that I have been silently screaming at the patriarchy that makes me afraid to walk down the streets at night and afraid to do solo wilderness trips. I have been silently screaming at those who think "recycling" is enough to save the environment, and those who do not even bother to recycle. Now, I am beginning to listen to those who have been silently screaming at me.

I am currently working for YouthSpeaks, a programme created and sustained by VIDEA. We are ten young women and men, with varied ethnicity, interests and experiences. We are striv- ing for a just world, under a large theoretical umbrella of sustainability. We address multiculturalism, racism, gender issues, food security, the economics of poverty, environmental issues and other related topics by taking workshops into the schools of Victoria. In addition, we are in the midst of creating a conference series for high school aged students to take place this spring. As another part of our commitment to YouthSpeaks, each participant spends one day a week working with our various community partners (VIDEA, LifeCycles, GirlFutures, Victoria Street Community Association, The Greater Victoria Savings Credit Union and the Inter-Cultural Association). Our last and perhaps our largest task, is to create a camp for young people interested in activism. Through these events we act as a liaison between the activist community and the schools of Greater Victoria. By facilitating so many experiences for youth, we hope to impact many people. In other words we aim to create a good product and service. Equally important as product, however, is process; the process of sharing the diversity in our rela-tionships. The process involved in the creation of our first conference: Act Now; Multiculturalism, is a good example of this concept.

We have spent many hours discussing views of history. The objective, one-sided, conventional view of history satisfies no one in our group. An article published in the winter Voices (1998) also addresses the omissions in traditional history. By telling the stories of black men and women, the BC Black History Awareness Society brings to light a fundamental and often unheard past that deserves to be celebrated. In this celebration, however, we (as activists) must keep our ears open for the silent screaming of others. Willis Stark, a black settler, for example, rid Saltspring Island of cougars. This statement is not without environmental significance! Cougars are an integral part of our ecosystem; we lost parts of ourselves when we lose cougars. In addition, this article makes no mention of the First Nations people who used the land before and during the arrival of white and black settlers. I think that we need to be aware of how we can silence some voices while listening to others that need to be heard. My feminist view of the world, for example, has many faults; I have been stepping on others while reaching for my own freedom. I am only beginning to bring an analysis of racism into my world view.

YouthSpeaks, by allowing many voices to be heard, is helping me to hear those that I am oppressing. My world is expanding because of the stories I am opening my ears to hear. In addition, I am telling my story to those who might not have heard it before. We are making connections, building bridges between oppressions, in history, and between individuals.

Tobin Day moved to BC from Ontario after finishing a degree at Lakeland University.

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