A handful of protestors gathered outside Penticton’s Sandman Hotel, Wednesday, where members of the Rotary Club of Penticton were meeting to discuss the upcoming Ribfest.
The protest took place just after noon on June 12, and demonstrators held signs that argued the annual fundraising event does not align with the Rotary Club’s mandate and goals. Tessa Gordey, one of the residents in attendance, said she believes that the club does amazing work but suggests they need to take action to support youth across the nation marching for climate change.
“Rotary is the most incredible organization, they raise money for the best things and support so many people and communities around the world. We are here to highlight some of the concerns that we have about Ribfest, mainly the detrimental effects it will have on our environment,” said Gordey. “There are tens of thousands of youth all over the world marching, urging us for action for climate change. And they’re begging us to think about our future because they’re terrified for their own. So we want the Rotary to think about the impact it’s going to have on the environment for the youth.”
According to a report released in January 2019 in the Lancet Medical Journal, the transition in recent decades “to unhealthy diets are not only increasing the burden of obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases, but are also contributing to environmental degradation.”
“Food production is the largest cause of global environmental change. Agriculture occupies about 40 per cent of global land, and food production is responsible for up to 30 per cent of global greenhouse-gas emissions and 70 per cent of freshwater use,” stated the report.
Gordey said this year marks the third year she and other protestors have tried to connect with the Rotary Club of Penticton about ceasing the event, only to be “suppressed.” She said it feels like “they are ignoring” the effects of climate change in the area, using the recent years of wildfires and smoke in the Okanagan as an example.
“It’s a taboo subject because (Ribfest) is a fundraiser, and that sucks because we need to find a more socially-responsible fundraiser,” said Gordey. “We’re in the middle of a climate crisis right now. We’re feeding 62 billion animals but we can’t feed 7 billion people.”
The Rotary Club of Penticton did not respond to the Western’s request for comments.
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