A 2022 Highlight: Climate-aware activation at Don Heights Unitarian

Photo collage of screenshots from climate-aware activation at Don Heights Unitarian in Toronto / Tkaronto

As the end of 2022 approaches, I’m taking some time to reflect on this past year and express my gratitude for the many opportunities I’ve had to connect with others who are feeling, thinking, and learning about the climate crisis and taking action for a more just climate future.

One of the highlights of my year was the invitation to make a live presentation at Don Heights Unitarian Congregation on July 3rd. Thank you to Sheila White for bringing my Embodied Climate Justice Fitness (ECJF) project to the attention of DHUC and for introducing me to those in attendance at this hybrid session (in-person and virtual). Sheila is the Music Director and choir leader at DHUC, and she has written more than 150 songs, 24 of which appear in “Power of Song: New Hymns for a New Age”, the Don Heights Singers’ publication of original music. Sheila also runs the Litter Prevention Program and presents seminars on a number of subjects including Black History. This past year Sheila was a 2022 Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal Recipient, Province of Nova Scotia, for her excellent work as a 2022 Member, National Apology Advisory Committee re WW1 Anti-Black Racism(​Chair, Communications and Community Engagement). Her track record (to use a sporting metaphor) and awards for community engagement and environmental and political advocacy are impressive and inspiring.

Sheila White has also been a faithful member of the Scarborough Poetry Club, which I co-facilitate with my husband and poet Jeevan Bhagwat. Prior to my presentation at DHUC, the beginning of the July 3rd service included my reading of Jeevan’s “Early Morning Poem”, which can be read on my project website along with some of Jeevan’s other poems. Jeevan is the Poet-in-Residence for my ECJF project, and literally.

My 20-minute presentation at Don Heights Unitarian can be viewed on the DHUC YouTube page.

My approximately 14-minute talk was based on a couple of my blog posts, specifically my Embodied Climate Justice Fitness (ECJF) Introductory Blog from June 2021 and my Climate-aware Fitness and Mindfulness blog from October 2021.

My talk was followed by an invitation for participants to join me in a 6-minute, mindful, climate-aware fitness activation based on one of the movement practice videos available on the Activations page of my ECJF website. The presentation was followed by a short Q&A and time to continue the conversation while socializing after the formal presentation ended. My gratitude to all who helped to organize the service and to everyone who attended in-person and virtually!

I appreciated everyone’s participation in the movement practice according to their own preferences and abilities (observing, seated, standing). I also appreciated all the thoughtful questions and comments during the Q&A. I recall that one person commented that fitness is a privileged activity. My response was that indeed it is since many people cannot afford the expense of gym memberships and/or the time for classes if they are burdened with long hours of work and other obligations. That’s why my project uses short movement activations as a medium for climate communication about the need for climate justice, including equity and equality. During my talk, I read the below quote from one of my blog posts:

A squat with arms overhead to form a roof can represent the issue of housing and the ideal of affordable green housing. Individuals, families and communities struggling in the context of a housing crisis cannot prioritize fitness as a strategy for wellbeing. Even with affordable housing, the public health impacts of dependency on natural gas to heat homes needs urgent attention. A climate-aware narrative for a squat with arms overhead to form a roof can include references to energy retrofits, solar panels and other ways in which homes, as well as businesses, can transition away from fossil fuels.


Another participant shared that he practices climate-aware fitness by planting trees and tending to the natural area on his property. I agreed that that is an excellent way to get physical activity while engaging in stewardship. I believe I also added that volunteering in community gardens or on community conservation projects also provides opportunities for physical activity and stewardship.

During the socializing after the formal presentation ended, I had an engaging conversation with a DHUC member about plant-based eating and how food production and food choices intersect with the climate and ecological crises. I recall mentioning a statistic from David Attenborough’s A Life on Our Planet, which I’ve seen on Netflix: 70% of the mass of birds on Earth are domestic, the vast majority of them being chickens. It’s one example of how our species has been “replacing the wild with the tame”. If you haven’t seen David Attenborough’s “witness statement” and “vision of the future” yet, I highly recommend you watch this documentary. I intend to watch it again soon. During my conversation with this DHUC member, I learned that DHUC has a The Starch Solution Meet-up group and an Online vegan lunch group. You can learn about when these and other groups meet by viewing the Don Heights Unitarian Web Bulletin. DHUC also has an impressive and inspiring number of social justice programs focused on international justice, economic inequality, the environment, inclusion and Truth, Healing and Reconciliation (THR).

Finally, I want to add that I’m grateful that I was permitted to set up a book display table for my presentation. Below these photos of the table, I’m including links to the resources as well as links to a couple of organizations that I mentioned in my presentation. I had a copy of the Council of Canadian’s Just Transition Parliamentary Petition on hand and encouraged those in attendance to learn more about the Council’s other opportunities for signing petitions. Last week I attended the Council of Canadian’s “Flood Parliament and Beyond” sneak peak organizing call and learned that they will be re-launching the Just Transition from fossil fuels campaign in January 2023 ahead of the federal legislation being tabled. A revamped toolkit is already available on their website. I’m looking forward to re-engaging with this initiative in the new year.

As always, thank you for reading, and I welcome your questions and feedback. You can email me at climatejusticefitness@gmail.com

Follow me on Instagram @annanieminenecjf


Luminescence poetry book by Jeevan Bhagwat (IN Publications, 2020). The poetry book can also be borrowed from the Toronto Public Library. Selected poems are presented on the About page on my ECJF website.

Living in Indigenous Sovereignty book by Elizabeth Carlson-Manathara with Gladys Rowe and other contributors (Fernwood Publishing, 2021). The book can also be borrowed from the Toronto Public Library.

Indigenous Toronto: Stories that Carry This Place book. Edited by Denise Bolduc, Mnawaate Gordon-Corbiere, Rebeka Tabobondung, Brian Wright-McLeod (Coach House Books, 2021). The book can also be borrowed from the Toronto Public Library.

A Treaty Guide for Torontonians by the Talking Treaties Collective (Jumblies Press and Toronto Biennial of Art in partnership with Art Metropole, 2022). The book can also be borrowed from the Toronto Public Library.

A Treaty Guide for Torontonians companion website.

Generation Dread: Finding Purpose in an Age of Climate Crisis by Britt Wray (Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2022). The book can also be borrowed from the Toronto Public Library.

Canadian Health Association for Sustainability and Equity (CHASE). My Activate Your Learning Series blog post incorporated information from CHASE’s blogs with permission from Kim Perrotta.

The Council of Canadians

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