Nova Scotia Nature Trust | Nova Scotians Protecting Nova Scotia

Annual Dinner & Silent Auction 2000

On October 21st, 2000, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. inspired a sold out room of more than 400 people, at the Nova Scotia Nature Trust's third, and most successful annual dinner and silent auction to date.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Guests enjoyed lively bidding on a host of unique silent auction items. The Trust received several generous donations for the auction, a highlight included two Alice Reed originals of Nature Trust properties. Jost Wineries kindly donated two cases of Jost 1997 Marechal Foch wine. Some of the bottles were signed by politicians courtesy of Peter Stoffer, M.P. who roamed the corridors of power in Ottawa soliciting signatures for the wine labels, including the Prime Minister and other leaders of all the political parties. Other signatures included prominent Canadians such as Stuart McLean, David Suzuki, Robert Stanfield, and Anne Murray. Dusan Kadleck, a well known historical and marine artist, kindly donated a limited edition Giclee "The Grand Ball — Province House 1864". This was signed by the Prime Minister, thanks again to Peter Stoffer, M.P. Robert F. Kennedy participated in the auction, and won the highest bid on a handcrafted willow chair donated by local artist Elaine Porter Allen. The Nature Trust would like to thank the generosity of the many individuals and businesses who donated to the auction. Over $30,000 was raised from the event, $10,000 of this from the silent auction.

Kennedy's take home message for the evening was that we have an obligation and responsibility to nature to maintain our relationship with the environment. Kennedy's major key points of action dealt with allocation of land, stewardship, accountability, and access and democracy. He touched on various past mistakes and success stories. He believes that "environmental investment" is necessary to carry out these actions.

What happens when you pave a watershed? You destroy the natural water processes, the habitat for various species of plants and animals, the scenic values (which Nova Scotia has become so dependent on for its tourism industry), the educational component, and of course the artistic inspiration of the landscape. Overall, we destroy the cultural experience that once existed, and slowly we destroy ourselves and the foundation on which our livelihoods are built. Kennedy focused on the results of decentralizing development and establishing urban boundaries. He feels that sprawl is the largest major threat to natural areas, next to industry.

One point that Kennedy stressed, and one which the Nature Trust focuses a great deal of time and effort, is to realize the power that we have as individuals to make change happen. We can become better stewards of the environment if we first recognize that the environment enriches us all in some aspect. We can support issues that better our communities. Finally, we can realize that we can bring about change at a small scale, and support organizations like the Nature Trust.

Kennedy stressed the need for a "free economy". One which holds individuals accountable for their actions whenever others are affected, including environmental damage.

Kennedy stressed that we must create a level playing field before we can call ourselves a community. Two things allow us to call ourselves a community, one shared values, and two, the land. If we don't all have a part in the way that the land is managed, we cannot call ourselves a community.

There are two kinds of access that we use to measure whether our democracy is working and meeting the expectations of the land. One, access to justice, whether we are all able to take action to protect the land. Two, access to public interest. We need to recognize how we allocate land, and how this affects us as a community, be it public or private land. "When we destroy nature, we destroy and impoverish ourselves".

We need environmental investment right now, if we are to maintain our connection with the land. Once nature has been altered, the damage is irreparable. We should not lower our environmental standards today, for a few years of economic prosperity. We must realize that we have special places in Nova Scotia that are worth protecting for the sake of future generations. In his closing remarks Kennedy quoted, "We didn't inherit this land from our ancestors, we borrowed it from our children".

Report by Julian West

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