Elders in action

During the 2020 months-long community shutdown due to COVID19 the Suzuki Elders have remained active through the use of internal video-conferencing, assistance to schools with online teaching and tutoring, and continued information outputs via the website and social media.

On Remembrance Day (11 November) 2019 the Council of Elders’ Chair, Patricia Plackett, attended the Let Peace be their Memorial ceremony at Seaforth Park, Vancouver, and laid a wreath for environmental devastation caused by war.

On October 25, 2019 the Elders joined with ten thousand other people and with teen climate crusader Greta Thunberg in a five-hour rally and mass demonstration in central Vancouver to demand climate action from Canada’s newly elected government Friday.

On September 29 Elders Patricia Plackett and Diana Ellis led a retreat in the Nature House on the Maplewood Flats Conservation Area, North Vancouver. A group of 21 Suzuki Elders engaged in multiple discussion sessions to re-energize our work as Suzuki Elders. The outputs from the retreat will provide content for an updating of the Strategic Action Plan.

On July 9 & 16, 2019 Elders Cynthia Lam and Karl Perrin led an outreach event on Climate Crisis and Solutions for 20 participants at the Minoru Centre for Active Living in Richmond, B.C.

On May 3, 2019 the Elders held their annual Social Event at the DSF office in Vancouver.  Guest of Honor was David himself. Few environmental problems were solved, camaraderie being the order of the day. Following the event, many participants moved to downtown Vancouver to support students conducting a school walkout to protest inaction against global climate change.

On Friday afternoon, March 15, 2019, Suzuki Elders Cynthia Lam, Jill Schroder, Joan Sutherland, Erlene Woollard and Diana Ellis joined hundreds of students in the streets of Vancouver to participate in the Global School Strike for Climate Crisis. The Vancouver rally was just one of 55 across Canada and hundreds across the world.

On Feb 28, 2019 the Suzuki Elders held their 2nd salon of 2019 – Climate Change Conversations: how to have them without everyone walking out of the room.  Participants examined the challenging task of talking about climate change with people of divergent viewpoints, and practiced techniques for engaging with others for better connection and understanding.

On January 31, 2019 the Suzuki Elders held a salon in Vancouver entitled Generations Rising: Inspiring Climate Action.  A panel of four invited youth activists and one Elder recounted their experiences on organizing climate change actions, drawing people and issues together, and working on climate action within, against and around the system.  They joined  salon participants in round-table exercises on identifying what governments and political parties should and could do to address climate change, and how concerned citizens could encourage and prompt them in such actions.

On Dec 20, 2018 a group of Vancouver-based Suzuki Elders held a potluck Christmas lunch. Much discussion, some divergent views, frequent gazing at the magnificent view of English Bay, a lot of good cheer and fostering of resolve.  Thanks to our gracious hosts Don and Diane Marshall.

On Nov 29, 2018, Suzuki Elders delivered a Salon entitled “Storytelling – In Our Nature“. Salon storytellers and facilitators were Diana Ellis, Neale Adams, Stan Hirst and Bob Worcester. The handout prepared for participants will appear on this website.

On Sept 8, 2018, hundreds of Rise for Climate events were held around the world to demand our local leaders commit to building a fossil free world. Local Suzuki Elders participated in Suffering Salmon: Climate Change and Pipelines held in Burnaby, B.C. with speakers, video, displays and games.

On August 16, 2018, the Suzuki Elders held a summer picnic for members at beautiful Kits Point in Vancouver. Good company, conversation, and food was accompanied by the musical talents of some of our members.

On August 11, 2018, Whale in the Door provided an afternoon of live music, poetry, origami folding, letter writing, and puppetry for all ages was held at the Vancouver Public Library. Suzuki Elder, singer and author Pauline Le Bel and Squamish Nation storyteller Rebecca Campbell Duncan / Tsitsayxemaat performed and invited participants to create origami whales, which were mailed to members of the B.C. government as a reminder to protect our few remaining orcas.

On June 21, 2018, a Roundtable Dialogue on Women’s Participation and Leadership in Climate Solutions was held at Simon Fraser University. Organized by Joanna Ashworth, Suzuki Elder Erlene Woollard was invited to participate, and an informative report was produced. The goal was to explore questions and strategies for advancing women’s leadership and participation in climate change solutions. The day-long gathering generated ideas that will inform and inspire action among all who desire to reduce the causes of climate change.

On June 7, 2018, Suzuki Elders hosted a salon on Your Health and Climate Change. Ninety attended and a report was produced by the organizer, Eva Wadolna, and volunteers for this successful salon.  This project provided insights into the subject that could be utilized in practical actions by various government agencies. It also offered a motivating factor for attendees to build up personal resilience and expand community networking.

Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson officially apologized on Sunday, April 21, 2018 for historical discrimination against the city’s Chinese residents. Families crossing several generations attended. Robertson said the formal apology reaffirms Vancouver as a city “in which diverse communities can share and learn from the past, collectively address current challenges and plan for a better future for all.” Photos courtesy of Cynthia Lam.

The Suzuki Elder 2018 AGM was held on April 19, 2018 at the DSF. An overview of the year, reports by the working groups, and a list of council members can be found here.

On the afternoon of Thursday, April 5, 2018, Suzuki Elders hosted a free salon on Perils of Apparel: The Environmental Impacts of What You Wear.  Thought-provoking and practical information was presented together with activities intended to raise awareness of the environmental perils inherent in our day-to-day decisions as clothing consumers. This salon was the best attended to date and has spawned requests at several other venues.

March 23, 2018 was a national day of action to Defend Our Water/stop the Kinder Morgan Pipeline. Samples of water were delivered to MPs across Canada with the message that coastal waters are at unacceptable risk from pipeline and tanker spills.

Suzuki Elders recommend a recent “UBC Connects” podcast featuring Jeremy Rifkin discussing The Third Industrial Revolution: Can we prevent the next mass extinction of life on Earth?  Rifkin is a political advisor on how to transition to a sustainable economy. This lecture is more than an hour long, beginning around 11:45 minutes into the podcast. Rifkin draws our attention to the changes in our water cycle, a critical feature of global warming that affects us all, now.  He talks about the move into the digital age, the age of access rather than ownership, the importance of the internet of things, and the need for a shift in political consciousness.

On March 1, 2018, the Suzuki Elders held a salon on How to talk to Children about Climate Change. The program was based on feedback from previous work with youth (e.g., What Moves Me).  The three goals of the salon were considered well-met, including learning how to engage with youth, and provision of tools and resources.

The Suzuki Elder Winter Social was held on the afternoon of Jan. 31, 2018 at the Unitarian Church in Vancouver. Volunteers (Roz, Cynthia, Dan, Jim, Margo, Erlene, Bob and many others) organized music (a choir!), games, and food.  Happy smiles tell it all!

On Nov. 30, 2017, Suzuki Elders organized a salon on “Energy in Action”.  The goal was to show that emerging energy technologies are clean and economically viable.  They represent an opportunity to transition away from fossil fuels and to move from large utility controlled generation to community scale financing and management. Most attendees felt the goal was met and they were more optimistic about the future of alternate energy. The salon benefited from a lively discussion after the talks.

On Remembrance Day, Nov. 11, 2017, the Suzuki Elders and the David Suzuki Foundation were represented by the wreath laid by Neale  at the Seaforth Peace Park in Vancouver.  The banner on the wreath reads, “For environmental damage caused by war“.

On Thursday, Oct. 28, 2017, Suzuki Elders hosted a salon:ReThinking PLASTIC: What’s in your Sushi? Recent studies estimate that fish off the west coast ingest over 12, 000 tons of plastic a year! ReThinking PLASTIC offered information to help educate ourselves and others regarding the careless use of plastic. An enthusiastic inter-generational group came out to learn about and discuss local use of single use plastic. The contents of this salon now appear as a post and more will be published over the coming months.  The organizers thank all of the presenters (from Suzuki Elders and from the broader community) and to all of the participants—a lively, fun afternoon while learning about a very serious topic.

On Oct. 28, 2017, Suzuki Elders joined hundreds in protest against construction at the Kinder Morgan’s Westridge Marine Terminal in anticipation of the trans-mountain oil sands pipeline expansion and 7 fold increase in tanker traffic that risk damage to the environment.The decision from the Federal Court of Appeal is due Feb/Mar of next year. The picture was taken by Suzuki Elders Rob and Lillian.

On Sept. 28, 2017, 29 people attended Green Chemistry – A Way Forward, a salon hosted by the Suzuki Elders and presented by GreenChemUBC. The goal was to learn more about the positive role chemistry can play in helping to create a healthy, sustainable world. Most attendants ranked this salon 5/5 and felt hopeful about strides being made to reduce waste and re-purpose materials.

Suzuki Elders attended a tour of the UBC Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability on Aug. 21. The group was impressed with the broad use of recycled materials, green roof, and citrus trees (left) that provide shade in summer and light in winter.  By 2050, the goal is to reduce campus GHGs by 100%.

This fall, Suzuki Elder Pauline Le Bel released her book Whale in the Door. “Pauline Le Bel, a resident of Howe Sound, embarks on a journey of discovery to find out what is special about the Sound, its wild nature and its people, to witness the cultural and spiritual revivals taking place.”

Paul, Cynthia, and Pauline attended the screening of “Rumble: The Indians who Rocked the World” at The Drum is Calling Festival, July 29, 2017.

At the council meeting on June 15, 2017, Suzuki Elders congratulated retiring DSF CEO Peter Robinson for his many successes at DSF and specifically for his encouragement and support over the years to the Suzuki Elders.

On May 29, 2017, Suzuki Elder Cynthia Lam attended the March for Protection of the Salish Sea.  Many in BC anxiously await the decision on the unpopular Trans Mountain bitumen pipeline that risks life around the coast.

On April 22, many Suzuki Elders celebrated Earth Day in Vancouver by attending the parade and festival starting at Commercial Drive and Broadway at 1 pm.  Nineteen Canadian cities joined 600 worldwide for a March for Science to advocate for scientific evidence in decision making. “Democracy starved of truth is democracy denied.”

The Suzuki Elders held their sixth Annual General Meeting on April 20, 2017 at the David Suzuki Foundation offices in Vancouver.   Highlights of the meeting included a talk by Jay Ritchlin, DSF Director General for Western Canada, whose extensive knowledge of our salmon fisheries let us appreciate the complexities around concerns with fish farms.   Diana Ellis, stepped down as Chair of the Suzuki Elder Council and was presented with a very special gift by David Suzuki, a print he created from a fish. Conrad Guelke (upper left), retiring from council after serving as Past Chair, received warm words of congratulation and appreciation from David Suzuki and a letter of appreciation from CEO Peter Robinson for  his 19 years as a volunteer with the Suzuki Elders.

On January 21st, 2017, 15,000 joined the Vancouver march in support of the Women’s March on Washington.  More than 2 million men and women joined over 600 marches worldwide.

On December 15th, members of the Suzuki Elders council and working groups held a “fabulous” potluck lunch at Neale and Roz’s home in Vancouver.

On November 19th,  Suzuki Elders joined thousands who gathered outside Vancouver City Hall to protest the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion. Vigils and rallies will continue after news of Federal approval.

Also on November 19th,  Suzuki elders attended the documentary screening and panel discussion of the film “Elder in the Making” hosted by the DSF Sustainability Network at the Musqueam Cultural Centre. Film makers Chris Hsiung and Cowboy Smithx were on hand.  “An elder isn’t defined by age, but by an openness to learning, to history.”



On October 2nd, Suzuki Elders Cynthia and Karl presented talks to the Fraser Cultural Forum for the Mandarin-speaking Chinese community.  YouTube videos are available for Cynthia’s presentation that includes videos on the damage to our planet caused by microplastics and for Karl’s presentation that includes a comparison of a “happiness index” with carbon footprint for different nations, translated for the audience by Cynthia.


This August, lower mainland British Columbians, including Suzuki Elders, had a chance to attend and address the federal panel on the Kinder Morgan bitumen pipeline expansion before the panel presents its final report to the federal government in November. So far, almost 90 per cent of those attending and speaking to the panel opposed the project. Rob and Cynthia hold what is worth fighting for.

The annual Suzuki Elder Retreat was held on August 4th at the peaceful Rivdendell Retreat Centre on Bowen Island. Our work for the day was informed by Jim Hoggan’s book, “I’m Right and You’re an Idiot: The Toxic State of Public Discourse and How to Clean it Up”.  The morning was spent in a role playing exercise using several scenarios where one person of a triad presented their position in a biased manner, a second person responded using techniques/stances from the book, and the third person was a neutral observer who reported on what he/she had observed during the dialogue. In the afternoon, a World Café exercise divided us into 4 groups that discussed desirable and doable ways of contributing to public discourse so that it becomes less toxic.


On Saturday, May 14th, a sold-out salon at the Vancouver YWCA was hosted by the Suzuki Elders on Building Resilience to Climate Disruption. The goal was to work on building our strength and capacity to face the enormous challenges of the world today. The salon, inspired by the work of eco-philosopher, Joanna Macy, used practices that strengthen our ability to respond, deepen our aliveness, and engage our passion and power to act for life on Earth.

Building resilience 14 May 2016a

On April 21st, more than 25 Suzuki Elders met at the David Suzuki Foundation to attend our Annual General Meeting.  Finance, communication, education, advocacy and membership reports were presented, and a slate of candidates for Council was adopted. Nadege Vince, who manages on-line communications for DSF, gave us an overview of various social media platforms and ways to improve visibility and grow a community.


april2016On April 18th,  Suzuki Elders Jim Park and Diana Ellis attended the Vancouver Youth Sustainability Conference and facilitated two workshops on Love, Nature and Climate Change.  Diana reports, “Bright students, open and thoughtful about nature and its impact. We always learn so much from them.”

eldercollegeFood Security NSECS 18 April 2016bAlso on April 18th, Stan Hirst led the Suzuki Elders in two teaching sessions at the North Shore’s ElderCollege on Food Security in the 21st Century: Are we Prepared? Questions addressed were: Why should we be concerned about food security? What is the evidence that our food supply system is at risk? What can be done about this and who should be doing what? What are the linkages between food security and refugees, climate change, land and seed usurpation and other factors? How can the average citizen influence decisions made on food security?

spuds2On February 24th, the Suzuki Elders took a step towards a better understanding of food security in B.C. and especially the lower mainland by hosting  a salon on Food Security in the 21st Century: Are We Prepared? To learn more, read Stan Hirst’s insightful post that reports on this salon.


On February 14, hardy Suzuki Elders like Cynthia Lam joined with the DSF to march in the rain to celebrate the Chinese New Year in downtown Vancouver. Cynthia tells us that the David Suzuki Foundation parade team was not big but was enthusiastic and  diverse, and included the Suzuki elders, the Raging grannies, and the Blue Dots from the cities of Vancouver, Richmond, Burnaby, Delta and Surrey.

On January 20 at the VanDusen Botanical Garden, the Suzuki Elders hosted a workshop to discuss COP21: What was and wasn’t achieved, and what are the implications for our future?  Participants were Steve Kux, who attended for the David Suzuki Foundation, Diana Ellis, who worked with a group of Grandparents for Climate Change, and Kate Hodgson, who attended as a youth delegate. 

On Nov. 29, 2015, Suzuki Elders participated in local and distant climate change rallies held around the world in preparation for the start of COP21 in Paris on November 30.  According to 350.org, over 785,000 people in 175 countries marched on Nov 29th in climate action events, making it one of the largest climate mobilizations ever in history.  Above, many hundreds met in front of the Art Gallery in Vancouver and the Legislature in Victoria.  Colourful flames held in Victoria were meant to ignite change and light our path to a fossil fuel-free future.  Rob and Lillian sang at the rally in front of the Legislature in Edmonton.


On Nov. 28th, National Geographic France published an article entitled Grandparents, New Players in the Fight Against Climate Change” in association with coverage on COP21.  It contains prominent mention and a group photograph of the Suzuki Elders.


On Nov. 10, 2015, the David Suzuki Foundation held a Sustainable Diversity Workshop at Sun Yat Sen Garden attended by Suzuki Elder Cynthia Lam and our youth colleagues, Aaron and Tessica from our intergenerational story project.  Topics ranged from food choice and waste to use of media and integration rather than assimilation of newcomers to Canada.PledgetoVoteOct2015
As Federal Election Day on October 19  approached, many Suzuki Elders signed the “pledge to vote” and others, like Cynthia Lam on the right, were busy collecting signed pledges around her neighbourhood.  Cynthia was working in support of Kids for Climate Action who hoped to elect candidates with the best chance of implementing effective, science-based climate policies.

On October 1, Suzuki Elders attended an event recognizing National Seniors Day at the downtown branch of the Vancouver Public Library.  The event was developed and presented in collaboration with the City of Vancouver Seniors Advisory Committee. Many visited the library to discover a variety of resources for seniors and attend events (including our display) throughout the day.


The Metro Vancouver Youth Sustainability Network met with Suzuki Elders on September 27th.  Twenty keen participants attended this planning summit with Suzuki Elders Diana Ellis, Jim Park, and Cynthia Lam who acted as facilitators.  The key youth organizer was Jay Matsushiba. This sharing session, called “What Moves Me” had the group talking about their hopes and fears for sustainability and our environment; what moves us forward, and what holds us back.


suzuki elders at CTS July 2015bOn July 25, 2015, Catching the Spirit Youth Society and the Suzuki Elders held the Ubuntu Day discussion on the theme, “What Moves Me?”.  Ubuntu is the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity.  “I am because of who we all are.”  Sixty youth participants, mostly 14-17 years old, attended.  Diana Ellis and Sadie DeCoste acted as facilitators.  Participants and youth leaders Santiago Alaya Perez (left), Sadie DeCoste (middle) and Cathy Ye (right) are shown above.  You can read more about this event here.


On June 2, 2015, the Education and Community Engagement Working Group hosted a salon on Genetically Modified Foods held at the Creekside Community Centre in Vancouver.  Dr. David Ng from UBC talked about “Scientific literacy and its role in the GMO discussion” and Dr. David Steele, UBC and President of Earthsave Canada, discussed “How big business poisons GMOs”. Thanks go to Roz Kellett for organizing and Neale Adams for facilitating.


On June 6, 2015,  Diana Ellis, Erlene Woollard and Jim Park attended ecoFEST at New Westminster Quay with the Suzuki Elder display and revised handouts.  EcoFEST, a youth initiative now in it’s third year, aims to engage youth in environmental volunteer opportunities that will create a truly sustainable Future. The Eco Fest event organizer was young Annaliese Meyer – a participant at our Elder retreat with youth last summer.

Youth Sustainability 0415

On April 27, 2015, three Suzuki Elders attended the Vancouver School Board Sustainability Conference designed and run by Vancouver high school students interested and involved in environmental work at their schools. Kudos to Rosemary Chen who has taken the Suzuki Elder Story Projectturned it into an Intergenerational Story Project, and led two workshops on that topic during the day. As reported by Diana Ellis, “Great dialogue between the total of 34 participants who attended the workshops – talking about our hopes/fears re the environment, and telling our personal stories of involvement. Youth Rock!”

AGMcompOn April 16, 2015, the Suzuki Elders held their annual general meeting featuring Jim Hoggan, Board Chair of the David Suzuki Foundation and author of Climate Cover-up, as Guest Speaker.  His topic and subject of his upcoming book, Speak the truth, but not to punish:  Lessons in Public Discourse, enlightened us on the importance of a better narrative to counter indifference.  Working groups presented their reports, and a slate of candidates for Council was nominated and appointed.  After many years of service to DSF and our organization, Archana Datta stepped down from Council.


On Feb 18, 2015, the Suzuki Elders held a free event in the Cedar Room at the beautiful VanDusen Botanical Gardens.  Peter Robinson, CEO of DSF, gave an informative talk on The Future of Environmentalism, to a group of 60 registrants, and Suzuki Elder Bob Worcester acted as moderator.

On November 9, 2014, Suzuki Elders gathered with hundreds of others to celebrate David Suzuki’s final stop on his cross-Canada Blue Dot Tour.  Over 60,000 people have now signed on help enshrine the rights of Canadians to a healthy environment.  This tour, featuring world-class entertainers at each stop, is just the start of this initiative!BlueDotDS

On October 14, 2014, Richmond city council unanimously adopted a declaration in support of the Right to a Healthy Environment, ensuring that access to fresh air, clean water and healthy food guides the community’s direction.  Suzuki Elder Cynthia Lam was in the thick of things.



On Oct 1, 2014, Suzuki Elders attended National Seniors Day with our displays and handouts.


On Sept. 21, 2014, Suzuki Elders joined marches in Vancouver and elsewhere in support of the International People’s Climate March.

On July 23, 2014, a successful day-long Suzuki Elder Retreat was held at Rivendell, Bowen Island. The goals were to facilitate intergenerational dialogue and identify meaningful ways Suzuki Elders and youth might work together on the environmental challenges we face.  Seven high-school aged youth attending the retreat told us how and why they developed their interests in the environment and how they saw our future developing.  Mixed discussion groups questioned how Suzuki Elders and youth might work together.  Ideas included developing a council of Suzuki Youth, facilitating an intergenerational mentoring program, hosting forums or discussions around shared values, and simply supporting each other’s initiatives.  


More information on the activities of our Working Groups can be found here.