By Beatrice Ekoko, Hamilton Animator for the Lighthouse Project.
Weeks before Christmas. NYC. Uptown Manhattan. I’m in a room full of frighteningly extraordinary people: religious leaders who practice the art of disaster chaplaincy. Spiritual care givers, they are angels of hope to victims of mass trauma. I am the only Canadian in the room and the sole participant not affiliated with a religion. I have travelled 350 miles for this two-day “disaster chaplaincy” training, run by theNational Disaster Interfaiths Network (NDIN), where religious leaders learn how to prepare to serve in emergencies.
Participants in the St. Jamestown Market, an example of Community Based Action
At Faith & the Common Good, we’ve been giving tremendous thought to the extreme weather events taking place globally. We are thinking about what we, as faith communities can do to prepare ourselves, here in Canada, especially vulnerable communities. Our ED, Lucy Cummings, along with Sheila Murray of Toronto CREW and Chris Winter of Climate Action Canada wrote an article on the issue, that was published as a guest post on the Environmental Defence website. Here’s an excerpt:
People who live in the St James Town apartment towers in Toronto’s inner city don’t have air conditioning. But if the power goes out, they’ll suffer more than most. Many residents are seniors or use mobility aids to get around. As the most diverse neighbourhood in North America, language can be a barrier, social connections may be weak, and most residents don’t have incomes that allow them to store extra supplies of food, water and cash.
The wide spreading flooding across the country these past weeks is a reminder of our increasing vulnerability to climate impacts. Faith & the Common Good is continuing to work to encourage faith communities to 1) examine their own preparedness for climate-induced extreme weather events, and 2) reflect on how to best support climate vulnerable neighbours in their social and ecological justice work.
Resilient Hamilton Workshop, Art Gallery of Hamilton. Feb 8th, 2017
“Recovery from natural and other disasters does not depend on the overall amount of aid received nor on the amount of damage done by the disaster; instead, social capital — the bonds which tie citizens together — functions as the main engine of long term recovery.” — Daniel P. Aldrich, assistant professor of public policy at Purdue University
Check out this piece in the spec.com written by our communications coordinator, Beatrice Ekoko, asking the question, “how prepared are our communities for increasing extreme weather events?” Here is the complete article:
Globally, heat waves, hurricanes, severe thunderstorms and flooding are becoming more frequent and increasingly intense with climate change. How prepared are we for extreme weather events — both in the home and as a community?
On a personal level I’ll admit that I don’t even have a flashlight at the ready, let alone the recommended two litres of water daily per person stored away. I don’t know where I would go in the event of an electrical blackout.
Extreme weather events are no longer once-in-100-years occurrences, thanks to climate change. Take the City of Toronto; it has experienced three super storms in the last 12 years alone. But extreme weather impacts are predicted to increase and government clearly can’t do it all. So what happens to the vulnerable residents of our communities? Here’s where faith groups are stepping up and exploring how they can be of service within their neighbourhoods.