U of C presents Vandana Shiva with prestigious award.
“People have lost touch that they are one with the earth,” Vandana Shiva said in a speech after receiving the Calgary Peace Prize at U of C on Sept. 25. Shiva, who received the award for her passion for ecology, women’s rights, and social justice, said that people need to turn away from consumerism and turn towards planet preservation.
Born in Dehradun, northern India, Shiva is an internationally acclaimed advocate who has published 20 books, written more than 500 papers and has won numerous awards globally. She received her doctorate from the Unversity of Western Ontario in 1978. Since then, Shiva has used her education to bring attention to numerous issues world wide.
“Society uses the term growth as an indicator for results. These results are only for consumers, and if you produce at the same rate you consume, nothing is really being produced,” Shiva said.
During the speech at the Red and White Club, Shiva highlighted problems in agriculture, oil sands, pollution, and separatism from the earth.
She said we create the illusion that we are part of the earth, “when all around we have created a separatism that is destroying it.
“It is possible to do agriculture without pesticides, to create energy without nuclear power, and to use biofuel instead of oil and gas.”
Advocate for Change
Alderman Gian-Carlo Carra presented Shiva with a plaque, as well as a cheque for $5,000, and said she was the prime choice for the award.
“She has had an unbelievable impact on turning local issues into global ones,” he said.
“It’s encouraging to see Calgary start to debate these issues.”
Shiva said, “I always grew up with an awareness of nature,” during an interview. “As I got older, I saw the destruction unfolding and had to take defence on the behalf of nature.”
She said it is her goal that people be encouraged to stand up and make change. She said she believes that as being part of the earth, we must all cherish it, and nurture it.
“The land is divine, and we are connected with it. It is sacred and we must treat it in harmony.”
As she stood at the podium, Shiva described a war far deeper than nuclear bombs and gun shells. The war, she said, “is pollution, pesticides, nuclear power, and agricultural wars.”
“Scientists talk about ways to block out the sun. But the very sun gives us life. It’s not the sun creating greenhouse gases. It’s people. It’s pollution. It’s carbon dioxide.”
The Role Model
Robert Fox, executive director for OXFAM said, “Vandana is a global leader who protects biodiversity, while supporting dignity. She represents people,”
Chantal Eves traveled to McMahon Stadium to see the award ceremony, as well to meet Shiva.
“She is a strong activist. Her passion transcends her words, and I’m inspired by her fearlessness,” Eves said.
The message from Shiva was clear and empowering, driving home the importance of recognizing we are one with the earth, she added.
“Her message was powerful in acknowledging what is in front of us is vital for peace.”
Joanna Cuthbert, past chancellor for the U of C and current co-chair in peace studies, has a high opinion of Shiva saying, “She has a unique understanding towards bringing about change. She has a passion, and reminds us that we do have power.”
Shiva said one of the ways that people can begin to make a difference is by standing up and being a voice for those who can’t. The average person can do this by joining the global community and standing against the corporate, she said.
“Whenever the economy sinks, the corporate takes over the global. People need to stand up and take over,” Shiva said.
“Some people trivialize faith and all deeper values. All deep faiths are rooted in the recognition of social justice.”
During her speech, Shiva relayed how disaster has unfolded in local communities across the globe, and how governments have used warfare as a means to distract people from real issues. A big way to fight back is by raising the issue, bringing back democracy, and coming together within the collective community, she said.
Shiva is currently part of an organic farming movement in Dehradun, India. Her goal is to create a movement that will enable farmers to make a valuable living.
“You know what I say. A chicken in the backyard is freedom to me,” joked Shiva.