I am back at work after 13 months away on parental leave.  As a new working mom, I am quickly learning how to balance my time as a parent, activist and artist.  My time off with my new babe was a wonderful time. I sometimes refer to it as ‘luxurious’, as it was so full of love and new experiences.  My partner and I basked in the slow pace of being new parents and enjoyed every moment living day by day, in the moment, with few other obligations beyond being caregivers and spending time together. 

Being back a work is likewise an exciting time, as I rediscover my independence and abilities to multitask beyond changing diapers, folding laundry, and playing with puppets and miniature creatures. Being back in the world of work and activism has been very welcomed.  I love being a mom; and likewise, I love my job.  I know that I am one of the lucky ones who can say this, and I am excited and very proud about introducing my daughter to the work I do, and the passion that surrounds our workplace at Greenpeace.  

Children are shaped by their experiences.  Even as infants, they are imprinted by the world around them.   I hope Zoe’s childhood experiences in activism to be one that shapes who she is as a child and eventually as an adult in a positive way.   I hope it is one that she looks back upon fondly, and thanks for me introducing her to the values of peace and pacifism, independence, creativity, and standing up for what she believes in.  Most of all, I hope she feels compassion for others, including all living organisms big or small. With this, I believe she will excel at any work she embarks on.  I know I speak from a place of privilege when I say these things, as I know how rare it is to have a stable career in justice work.

Change happens very rapidly, for better or for worse.  What will the world be like when my children are my age? We can only begin to imagine.  I feel good knowing that I am doing all that I can do, to make this world better for my children.  I feel good knowing that my children will never ask me why I didn’t do more for our planet.

Introducing children to activism doesn’t have to be a daunting task.  For some of us, it doesn’t take much of an effort at all, as we are living and breathing the kind of existence which challenges and strives to do better for people and our planet day in and day out.  I believe it is inevitable for children brought up in this kind of environment to learn otherwise.   For others, it’s difficult.  I once gave a Greenpeace t-shirt with a whale on the front saying “Save the Whales” to a friend, for her child.  She took the shirt in her arms and sighed.  She really didn’t know how to go about telling her 5 year old why this cute, baby whale needed saving. It dawned on me that this was a common problem for many parents.   How do you even begin to discuss the perils and technicalities of developing the Tar Sands to your children?  How to do you talk about the horrible injustices to people and their culture?

Contrary to popular belief, activism can be fun.  It can be family oriented, and doesn’t have to result in arrests or jail time.  While the discourse is serious and necessary, there are ways to motivate and inspire people towards being contrary to the status quo. As the global movement to protect our environment continues to expand, we are seeing events and activities which are more accessible to a wider demographic.  

Greenpeace’s Arctic Campaign, is one which can be easily introduced and digested by children. The content is connected to topics already found within the school curriculum, such as species diversity, habitats and water cycles.   For older children, it can spur discussion on issues of: conservation, climate change, First Nation’s people, their culture and history, and the interconnection between people, animals and ecosystems.   Likewise, the Arctic is filled with iconic species such as polar bears, whales, walruses and of course the mystical narwhal - A sure way to gain the interest of many children.  Also, the Arctic is trans-boundary, connecting people around the world, bringing more meaning and understanding, to the notion of thinking global and acting locally.

This weekend, on September 15th, people all over the world are gearing up to take action for the Arctic.

We are asking for individuals to join us on their bikes for an Arctic themed, critical mass.  Join the bike rally, and help us send a positive message.  We want corporations like Shell, to stay out of the Arctic!

So … Grab your bicycles and bike trailers, bike seats, cargo bikes or whatever you use, and bring out your children and families to an event in your area. 

There are Ice Rides being organized in Vancouver, Kelowna, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Sherbrooke, and Quebec City!    

Surround yourself in white and blue attire, cute Arctic themed costumes, masks, and noise makers.  Please spread the word, and help make this fun!

For more info about the events, and for fun stencils to make arctic masks and decorations visit: www.greenpeace.org/canada/iceride

To learn more about Greenpeace’s Arctic Campaign visit: http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/campaigns/Energy/Arctic/

Thank you for reading,

Aspa Tzaras
Greenpeace Canada Volunteer Program Coordinator