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Opening Minds and Inviting Change

Wade Davis delivers lecture for Trent and surrounding community downtown Peterborough

World renowned author, photographer, ethnobotanist, and anthropologist, Wade Davis delivered a lecture for the Trent and surrounding communities in downtown Peterborough on Friday, November 23.

Mr. Davis, who has been touring to support his latest work, Sacred Headwaters, delivered an urgent plea for conservation during his visit. He also stressed the importance of personal empowerment in making meaningful societal change – a message that resonated with the many students that he came in contact with.

The lecture – a partnership between KWIC’s World Issues Café and Trent University’s David Sheperd Family Lecture Series – dealt with the Sacred Headwaters, a pristine valley that acts as the starting points for three of Canada’s most important salmon rivers – the Stikine, Skeena, and Naas. The area – a sacred place for BC First Nations groups and a critical sanctuary for a diverse range of fauna – has been opened for industrial development.

His message, though couched in deeply passionate language and remarkably poignant narrative, was a simple one: the Sacred Headwaters feed several continental watersheds, is an essential home for many species of wildlife, and the ancestral home to several Aboriginal groups.  Canadians need to take action before it is too late.

“He was very inspiring, particularly to the youth in attendance,” said coordinator Julie Cosgrove.  “During his first talk, he shared intimately from his experiences and the very serendipitous manner in which his life has unfolded. He impressed upon students the difference between a 'job' and 'work', how we are accountable for the choices that inform who we eventually become, and that we must be the 'creative architects of our own life.'”

“He activated their imaginations,” noted Ms. Cosgrove. “He introduced these youth to a diverse, beautiful, and mystical world.  And then he reminded them of their own personal responsibilities to this world. There were important messages: we are of one race, and that all cultures have something important to teach us.”

According to Ms. Cosgrove, many of the messages were remarkably practical – particularly about becoming a global citizen and exploring different cultures.

He urged students to be polite, to be respectful, to eat what's given to them and sleep wherever they’re offered a bed. He shared stories of incredible generosity and encouraged youth to move through the world with equal generosity, giving more than they received - even if it meant working a few extra months to save up for their trip.

Mr. Davis’s visit was organized by the Kawartha World Issues Centre (KWIC), in partnership with the David Sheperd Family Lecture Series at Trent University, and in collaboration with Lakefield College School and the Canadian Canoe Museum.

Sandy Sheperd, representing the Sheperd Family Lectures, spoke of the resonance of the talk – and how it fit into her father’s legacy.

“He believed in stimulating thinking,” she said. “He believed in affecting change. And Wade Davis is the perfect representation of that philosophy. He is opening minds and inviting change.”

Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012.

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