The Saskatchewan Citizens’ Hearings on Climate Change
On November 1st and 2nd of 2013, citizens, activists, experts, and decision-makers came together in Saskatoon to learn and talk about climate change—the threats it poses and the urgent actions required if we are to escape its most damaging effects. This is a special report on the proceedings of those two days, and on the observations of the Commissioners who generously listened with care to the testimony.
Over the course of 20 hours, 36 experts, activists, educators, and concerned citizens made oral presentations. Written submissions were also received. Approximately 200 people attended the free event, listened, asked questions, and discussed what they saw and heard. The Hearings made use of internet-based audio-visual technology to allow presentations from remote locations, saving carbon emissions and expanding the circle of those who could present and participate. This also allowed participants at selected off-site locations to view the event and to ask questions.
In every phase and at every level, the Citizens’ Hearings embraced diversity and inclusion, with First Nations and Métis citizens well represented in all aspects of planning and conducting these Hearings. A top priority for organizers was that the Hearings include a broad range of presenters—not just experts and scientists, but farmers, grandmothers, homebuilders, healthcare professionals, workers, teachers, and school children.
Four Commissioners presided over the Hearings:
– Maria Campbell, teacher, activist, and author of the literary classic Halfbreed;
– Marcia McKenzie, University of Saskatchewan education professor and Director of the Sustainability Education Research Institute (SERI);
– Harry Lafond, Executive Director of the Office of the Treaty Commissioner; and
– Willard Metzger, Executive Director of the Mennonite Church of Canada.
In the first quarter of 2014 the Commissioners worked with Peter Prebble, Director of Environmental Policy for the Saskatchewan Environmental Society and others on the Organizing Committee to produce and publicize this report, with a focus on climate change in Canada’s prairies, and on the actions needed at every level in order to avoid the most damaging impacts of climate change.
The Hearings were the culmination of nearly a year’s work by an Organizing Committee of 13 people supported by four organizations (Climate Justice Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Eco-Network, National Farmers Union, and Green Energy Project Saskatoon). The Saskatchewan Environmental Society joined with the other four organizations after the hearings to play the lead role in summarizing the testimony given at the hearings. Organizers included Davida Bentham, Mark Bigland-Pritchard, Matt Dow, Sarina Gersher, Bonnie Lawrence, Julie Maxwell, Rick Morrell, Janelle Pewapsconias, Peter Prebble, Darrin Qualman, Karen Rooney, Rasheed Soomro and Megan Van Buskirk. Jonathan Stockdale kindly assisted in the process of gathering a written record of the proceedings.
The Hearings were also made possible by generous contributions from 12 sponsoring organizations: Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union, Regina Public Interest Research Group, The Better Good, Affinity Credit Union, the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses, Central Business Equipment Systems, the Confederation Inn in Saskatoon, Eat Healthy Foods in Regina, Horizon Distributors, and Pro Organics.
It is the collective effort of the Commissioners, organizers, supporting organizations, sponsors and presenters that made the publication of this report possible.