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A birthday gift: conserving Canada’s wildlife and wild places

  • Published on Jun 29 2017 |
  • by Karen Turner |
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My 6-year-old son does not need any more toys. The house is littered with them. What he does need is a Canada that will continue to offer healthy ecosystems that will sustain his wellbeing into his old age, and beyond. I want him and the generations to come to be able to experience Canada’s natural beauty and wildlife, as I have in my lifetime.

When it came time to plan my son’s birthday party, I suggested a 50/50 party. This idea (often referred to as a fiver party) is spreading as a party theme amongst mom groups. It asks the party goers to forego the traditional gift and to split his/her gift money into two envelopes (or, in the case of a fiver party, two $5 bills) – one of which goes towards a larger gift of the birthday kid’s choice, and the other towards a charitable cause (in this case, CPAWS).

Whether it was the promise of a larger gift or the saving of animals that swayed him, my son decided that a 50/50 party was a great idea. I was happy to have an opportunity to discuss the societal importance of both conserving nature, and giving to charity. Having been in a similar position when my son has been invited to friends’ parties, I was pleased that I would be able to offer an alternative to the parent hassle of buying a gift, within a specific budget, for a child you don’t know much about, knowing full well that your gift may never get played with and just end up in landfill somewhere.

I added the 50/50 suggestion to the invite, along with an explanation of where the money was being directed. I was pleased to see each invitee show up with two envelopes of money. All the guests had a great time running around, doing crafts and enjoying cake, and they all left with a loot bag of goodies, including a few CPAWS stickers and brochure.

We then went to the toy store where my son was able to choose his own bigger gift. After much consultation on options (and endless circling of the Lego aisles), he finally chose a Batman movie Lego set. We handed over the money and he marched up to the cash and paid for his gift. The next day, I was able to hand over a $75 donation to CPAWS in honour of my son.

It’s important that we raise the next generation to be thoughtful, empathic citizens as well as nature stewards. Without dedicated nature lovers of every generation speaking up for our wildlife and wild places, we stand to lose much more than a place to play.

I urge every parent out there who is planning a birthday to consider giving the gift of nature – a gift we can all benefit from, now and into the future.