• John Jantak

Children thank Saint-Lazare council for their efforts to preserve remaining forest canopy


Claarlight Gerald-Martin watches as her daughter Summer-rain reads from a prepared statement thanking Saint-Lazare council on behalf of the animals that live in the forest for protecting the town’s remaining woodlands.

Two nine-year-old girls reading from their own prepared statements thanked Saint-Lazare council for their efforts to preserve the town’s remaining woodlands on behalf of the wildlife that still thrives in the forests.

Summer-Rain Martin delivered her message during a public consultation meeting held by the town on January 28 aimed at getting public feedback regarding proposed changes that will be made to its existing by-law to further enhance protection of the forest canopy. More than 60 people were in attendance.

‘The animals appreciate what you’re doing’

“Hi. My name is Summer-Rain. I’m nine years old. I’m here to represent the animals who live in the forest. They all appreciate what you are doing. Thank you,” said Summer-Rain as she read her message aloud into the microphone. She was accompanied by her mother Claarlight Gerald-Martin who stood alongside her daughter.

Earlier, Summer-Rain’s sister Rana-Jolia who is also nine made her own impassioned plea to council about protecting the remaining forests. “The decisions you make affect our future. Thank you for protecting our environment,” she said.

Relationship with the forest and animals

For the Martins, discussions about climate change and environmental issues have become an integral part of their family dynamic.

“It’s a topic of our dinner conversations – the wellbeing of our environment and our community. It’s something we talk about because we really care. We moved to Saint-Lazare in part so they can develop a relationship and understanding of the value of the natural environment and the bio-diversity within. The girls really have a great relationship with the forest and animals,” said Gerald-Martin.

“We talk about it and want to work towards a world where the future for the girls is bright and healthy for the environment. Part of the reason the girls came here tonight is to learn they have a civic voice and that they have a role to play that’s really important,” Gerald-Martin added.

‘The voice of a million children’

Eric Martin agreed with his wife’s assessment adding the current environmental crisis is being played out at an adult level and children are being excluded from the conversation. “They came here tonight to say thank-you. They didn’t come to say ‘do more’. They said, ‘Speak for us because we don’t have a seat at that table,’” said Martin.

He also championed climate activist Greta Thunberg’s youth as being pivotal in advocating for the importance of children speaking up for the environment. “She’s the voice of a million children. They’re trying to turn her name into an icon which is dangerous. I think she represents the spirit of children. She shouldn’t be looked at as one activist. She should be looked at as a voice for those who don’t have a voice,” said Martin.

The public consultation meeting was held to gather feedback from citizens in regard to changes that are being made to its existing by-law to further protect the town’s forest canopy. The modified by-law will then be presented to the Municipalité régionale de comté Vaudreuil-Soulanges (MRC-VS) in February to make sure it conforms to the region’s Schéma d'aménagement et de développement. If approved, the town council will adopt its revised by-law in March.