Around ten volunteers hit the streets during Toronto Pride last Sunday sporting stylish blue Save the Arctic T-shirts and offering rainbow-coloured polar bear tattoos (temporary, of course!) to young and old alike. Our goal: to spread the word about the importance of the Arctic in regulating our climate, the grave danger of an oil spill if we go ahead with drilling for oil in this harsh environment, and the illogicality of responding to rapidly receding Arctic sea ice—a phenomenon which should serve as a dire warning to change our fossil-fueled ways—by drilling for yet more of the stuff that got us into this mess. We were also collecting signatures for a petition to Prime Minister Harper telling him to protect the Arctic from the threat of oil spills and climate change.

Arctic Toronto Pride 2013 facebook meme

Given the heavy topic and the light mood Pride generally brings about, I have to admit that I had my reservations. Would anyone stop to talk to me? Who would be interested in learning more about such a serious subject on such a festive day? Nervous but optimistic, my teammate and I rolled up our sleeves and started approaching complete strangers to ask them to sign our petition.

As it turns out I was worried for nothing. I met some awesome people that day—from an elderly couple to an amazing group of teenagers who had come in support of their newly out friend. One thing they all had in common was a willingness to listen—and dismay when they understood the full implications of our government’s plans to pursue a destructive ‘development’ agenda as chair of the Arctic Council.

Speaking to my fellow Canadians last Sunday, I began to feel pride swell within me. The sheer number of people who were not only attending Pride in support of LGBT rights, but also actively engaging in a dialogue about urgent environmental issues made me realize something: we are entering a new era. Our priorities are shifting.

I couldn’t be happier that I volunteered my time to help spread the word that day. I was floored by the positive reception and concern we were met with, and the numerous signatures we collected. There’s no such thing as too many signatures, though, so if you haven’t already, make your voice heard and add it to the list! Please sign the petition here.