Greetings and thanks (In French)

I was asked why I founded GentleWays fior OurPlanet and what we want to accomplish through it. There are many real reasons why I founded GW in 2019, but the most core reasons are a realisation and an insight. I had been realising AND feeling that Planet Earth, this awesome home, was unwell and the insight I had was that I could and should play a leadership role with others to help restore the wellness. The insight appeared immediately in response to an event which I will share in a moment. But the realisation was taking place over the previous several years.

Since my undergraduate years, I had been taking pro-environmental action: I was composting, mending my clothes, reducing food waste, conserving water and gradually shifting to plant-based diet. I also did a lot of advocacy work through other environmental organisations, particularly those that promoted animal welfare standards.

I’m going to take a small pause to share something I noticed this week while putting my thoughts together for this event.  I noticed that the key that opened my heart widely for a greater love towards the planet was my caring about animals. It was my compassion for animals that channeled and grew my love for the planet. In fact THE event that moved me, that compelled me into forming the organisation involved an animal.

It was a whale that had washed ashore a beach in Italy in the spring of 2019. Scientists found 25 kgs of plastic in its stomach. It had died of starvation.  With that sight and that story came the insight to form GentleWays for OurPlanet, not just to help us reduce our carbon footprint but to mainly change the way we relate to the natural world.  

To the existing Rs that we already know (like reusing, and reducing and repurposing) I wanted our actions to be imbued with the most fundamental R Reverence towards the Planet;  an attitude of deep respect, love and awe.

That was in the spring of 2019. I was s till with ECCC. I took time off saw a lawyer hired some consultants and formed the entity. In the summer I devoted all my vacation time to do the research design the website and an action plan. Our planned in- person activities for 2020 did not take place due to COVID restrictions

But that did not stop us. We made adjustments.

In light of a survey by the American Psychological Association where climate change was cited as the top concern and where people said they were worried but didn’t know where to start doing their part, we developed and released a free mobile app: i4ThePlanet. The App supports sustainable living with 122 pro-environmental actions that individuals can take to reduce their carbon foot print under food, transportation, fashion and other areas. We suggested that people cut their carbon footprint by 50% over the next ten years to limit global warming.

Launching the app was our way of saying we didn’t want to wait until the conditions become perfect for us to act. We did what was possible to us. And here I’m pausing again to share another lesson learned: there is no need to wait for the perfect conditions to start doing our part.  Laws and policies are good but do we have to wait until they are in place before we do what we believe is right? Like wise, clean technology is good but waiting for the clean technology to solve our ecological issues is not sufficient either.

We don’t need to wait for some prefect conditions or perfect solutions. A good ingredient though is the Pause, to see what we love and let it move us.

Now I will take the remaining few minutes to share about our current projects

  • Changing our menus: Here we’re incentivising restaurant owners to add plant-based items on their menus
  • Green Bin in Multiunit properties – here we support individuals who want to champion the green bin program in their building
  • Tree planting -We planted over the past two years 600 trees in Barrhaven with the support of the City of Ottawa and support from Nature Canada. We worked with cultural groups in Ottawa, so far youths from the Lebanese Canadian community. 
  • We also planted over 300 trees via our app in collaboration with Ecology Ottawa and One tree Planted
  • Petition. We initiated a petition to have the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act changed to include crustaceans so they will be eventually protected, like in other jurisdictions such as Switzerland, the UK and new Zealand.
  • Show your love project. Here we’re interviewing people in Ottawa asking them how they show their love for the planet. We’re using the collage of videos to raise awareness about the importance of individual environmental action and leadership.

Also, to counter the current prevalent belief on social media that one should work on one self and cultivate and grow the so-called best version of our selves before we can go out and about doing things, meeting people, and making a difference, I created this poem:


Everyday, you climb or descend

into the best version of yourself

Everyday, you claim victory.

You wait no more for a perfect

slice of the sun

or a perfect landing.

Go out and about 

wage your battles wear your wounds,

Go into exile, never return

Or cocoon for while…

Rise as a full moon

Glow in the dark

A small, unsorted bead

Move at the speed of love

Break your string

Break your string

Scatter thousands of new beginnings

Celebrate now your ascent,

You too are immortal