We welcome this guest post by Erin Udal, organizer of Earth Day at the Commons.

Why Earth Day matters on Gabriola Island

As I reflect on my upbringing on Gabriola Island, I am struck by the profound impact it has had on my values and my deep-rooted care for the environment. Attending Gabriola Elementary School was a formative experience that instilled in me the importance of community resiliency and taking responsibility for the things we care about, including our environment.

At Gabriola Elementary, the teachers and staff taught us the value of stewardship and the interconnectedness of our actions with the health of our surroundings. We learned about the delicate balance of ecosystems, the impact of pollution on our oceans, and the importance of conserving resources. I felt invested in.

One of the most powerful aspects of growing up on Gabriola Island was witnessing the commitment of the adults in our community to model responsible environmental practices. From participating in beach cleanups to volunteering with local environmental organizations, the adults in our community showed us through their actions that they were invested in a healthy, sustainable future for us and for generations to come.

As I grew older, I realized that walking in a parade on Earth Day or participating in other symbolic gestures may not single-handedly change the world or fix all our environmental issues. However, working in social and environmental justice work for most of my career I have learned to appreciate the power of ritual and collective action in inspiring change. The first Earth Day event, created by a junior senator from Wisconsin in 1970, inspired millions of dollars in funding for environmental causes and the creation of policies to protect our planet. It demonstrated that when people come together in common purpose, they have the ability to create meaningful change.

On Gabriola Island, despite its small size, I have witnessed the incredible passion and dedication of our community to environmental stewardship. With over 20 organizations invested in preserving Gabriola’s environment, much of the work and programs are run on volunteer efforts and a commitment to community. Whether it’s protecting our marine life, conserving our ecosystem, or promoting sustainable agriculture, our community comes together to take action.

Earth Day on Gabriola has a special significance for me. It’s not just a day to pay lip service to environmental conservation, but an opportunity to celebrate the people in our community who dedicate their time and effort to protect our island’s environment. It’s a chance to celebrate our shared values of sustainability, conservation, and community resilience. It’s a time to come together as a community, to participate in activities that promote awareness and education about environmental issues, and to inspire each other to take action.

As I reflect on my experiences growing up on Gabriola Island, I am grateful for the lessons I learned about the importance of caring for the environment and the responsibility we have to protect our planet. I am inspired by the dedication of the adults in our community who model responsible environmental practices and show our youth that we are invested in a healthy, sustainable future for them. I am humbled by the work of the many organizations on Gabriola Island that are committed to stewarding our environment and the tireless efforts of volunteers who give their time and energy to protect our island’s natural beauty.

In conclusion, my upbringing on Gabriola Island has instilled in me a deep care and concern for the environment. The values of community resiliency, taking responsibility for the things we care about, and modeling responsible environmental practices have shaped my worldview and inspired me to take action. Earth Day on Gabriola Island is not just a day of symbolism, but a celebration of our community’s commitment to environmental stewardship and a reminder of the power of community. Please join us on April 21st at The Commons.

This year’s event was held on the day BEFORE the official Earth Day, so the school kids could participate.

  • 11 am – 12:45 pm: Learn about local initiatives from Growls, GaLTT, Sustainable Gabriola, Agi Co-Op, Island’s Trust, Gabriola Rec, PHC, FireSmart, Gabriola Library, the Photography club and more!
  • 12:45 pm – 1:20 pm: Earth Day Parade (led by Gabriola Elementary!) Show the kids you care about their future by joining the parade from the school.
  • 1:20 – 2:00 pm: The Kerplunks! Earth-themed music for all ages!
A woman and two small children choose free plants to take home from a pallet with potted plants at GaLTT's Native Plant Depot.

Event report: it was fun!

Chants of ‘Hey, ho, climate change has got to slow’ rang out through the village as the Gabriola elementary school kids carrying colourful banners, puppets and stuffies, their teachers, aids and many islanders paraded to recognize Earth Day. The high energy music of the Kerplunks got us all fired up with earth friendly songs and kids created impromptu Conga lines as we joined together to celebrate our beautiful planet. Kids were amazed they could choose free plants from the Native Plant Depot to take home and Arlene was thrilled to win the draw for the bird house. Entrants told us their favourite birds and Pileated woodpeckers and California quail topped the list. All in all it was an exciting build up to Saturday’s Earth day.

Share This Post!