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Reflections on my first CPAWS lobby day

Guest post by Kim Statham, Chair, CPAWS Wildlands League Board of Directors

The last time I was on “the Hill”, I was an awkward and keen 8th grader, on my school’s annual trip to the nation’s capital. It was a sunny day, and we were resting on the steps under the Peace Tower, after a morning of intense history lessons in the Parliament buildings. What we unsuspecting pre-teens didn’t realize at that moment, was that then-Prime Minister Brian Mulroney had just been dropped off right in front of us. As he climbed the steps to work, he stopped to talk to our class and deliver an impromptu pop quiz on democracy. It’s too bad we were all too young to really appreciate just how awesome that was!

Anna Baggio from CPAWS Wildlands League (left) and I taking on the Hill

Fast forward a couple of decades to last week. I found myself walking up to the Hill again, this time to participate in CPAWS’ fourth annual lobby day – my very first.  Well actually, it was the first day I’ve really lobbied for anything! Joined by other CPAWS staff and board members from across the country, we had a day full of meetings with various MPs and Senators. I was filled with nervous excitement, in part brought on by the magnitude of Canadian heritage surrounding me, but also because of the significance of the message that we were bringing with us that day: the importance of supporting, expanding and enhancing Canada’s national park system.

Why are national parks important to me, you ask? As a kid-survivor of growing up in the suburbs (there really should be a support group), I often escaped to explore wild spaces. In fact, I spent a good deal of my childhood in and around the forests and lakes outside of Ottawa. It was here with scraped knees and waterlogged ears that a lifelong connection with nature began. As an adult, I’ve travelled across this fair country visiting Canada’s wild spaces and National Parks. From Pacific Rim to Bruce Peninsula to Fundy, each park has left an indelible impression on me. I believe national parks not only define Canada, they define our personal character. The expansion and enhancement of the parks system is crucial, now more than ever. Protection and conservation of these vast and unique ecosystems is not only fundamentally necessary for the planet, it is critical for the very identity of our country and ourselves.

This was my first lobby day with CPAWS, but it won’t be my last. Gathering with the CPAWS team, a group of passionate, dedicated and like-minded folks, was inspiring.  Exercising my democratic right was exhilarating.  Meeting with MPs and Senators of all political stripes who already knew and respected CPAWS, made me even more proud to be a representative of this organization.

The CPAWS team from across the country on the Hill

Kim Statham is the Chair, Board of Directors for CPAWS, Wildlands League based in Toronto.   Along with her two young kids, she is most often found with scraped knees in one of Toronto’s ravines.   She is excited that one day very soon, Rouge Park, Canada’s first National Urban Park, will be in her backyard and accessible by public transit.