Canada's federal power shift provides us with the opportunity to view the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals through a new lens. Our new government faces many challenges to restore the protection of Canadian ecosystems. After a decade of Conservative rule, I find myself, like many other Indigenous people in Canada, cautiously optimistic for the future social and ecological well-being of our nation and its role on the international stage. However, our new government will face significant challenges in living up to and improving upon their campaign promises.
Algal blooms are not a new for Lake Erie. In the 1960s and 70s, blooms were so bad the lake was described as "dead." But despite the success of earlier remedial measures, harmful algal blooms are back and bigger than ever. Algal blooms later this summer are expected to be among the worst ever seen in Lake Erie.
In the mid-1990s, the eastern monarch population was more than one billion. In winter 2013, the population had dropped by more than 95 per cent to 35 million, with a modest increase to 56.5 million this past winter. Much of the monarch butterfly decline has been pinned on the virtual eradication of its critical food source milkweed.
Over the past three decades, relentless poaching of wildlife has already wiped out several species of rhinos, and elephants, even as the surviving species are being pushed to the brink of extinction. However wildlife crime has come into scrutiny only in the past decade, and despite the emergence of stringent international laws, criminals are getting away scot-free.
Bees may be small, but they play a big role in human health and survival. Some experts say one of every three bites of food we eat depends on them. The insects pollinate everything from apples and zucchini to blueberries and almonds. If bees and other pollinators are at risk, entire terrestrial ecosystems are at risk, and so are we.
Improving the way we fish and grow seafood is critical to the survival of some of our planet's most threatened marine and freshwater species and environments. But a national sustainable seafood day is also a critical reminder that even through our everyday choices in what food we buy, we can have a profound impact on the future of life on our planet. And nowhere is that more true than at our fish counters.
A new report values the annual services provided by aquatic areas to Lower Mainland residents. These are services that we've always treated as free because they have no current market value and are add-ons to nature-based economic activities like fisheries and forestry. The results are remarkable: our wetlands, beaches, coastal areas, lakes and rivers give us benefits to the tune of $30 billion to $60 billion every year, and that's a conservative estimate. That's like building more than 14 Canada Lines.
One of the first lessons I learned from First Nations communities was about the importance of respect. Without respect for each other, we don't listen and we fail to learn. But respect should extend beyond our fellow humans, to all the green things that capture the sun's energy and power the rest of life on Earth.