Each and Every Person is an International Centre for Environmental Health: We All Have a Part to Play

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Fred O’Brien

An Arctic Contaminants Committee tour of the Territory of Nunavut commenced on January 12, 2004 with the purpose of disseminating its research findings in the newly formed (1999) Canadian northern jurisdiction. The multidisciplinary group visited 20 fly-in communities and sought to advise and engage in inclusive conversation the citizens of Nunavut on its public health message, including the implications for nutrition and environmental health. The Tour concluded on March 26, 2004.

Sylvia Cloutier of Iqaluit (second from right in photo), had a major role in the logistics of the visits, including organising flights, accommodation, community feasts and meetings. At one of the lay-overs she asked a question of Dr. James Talbot, Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) of Nunavut, related to a serious car accident she had had as a teenager some years previously. She explained that the tibia and fibula bones of her leg were broken, protruding through the skin, and there was much bleeding. Having had a recent x-ray, which indicated all was healed, she sought an explanation as to how that could be possible. The CMOH outlined the body defense and healing systems eloquently and left the group in awe!
On December 24, 2004, some nine months after the ‘contaminants’ committee tour ended, the world woke up to a devastating story of a disastrous earthquake and tsunami originating deep within the earth’s crust off Indonesia, with close on a quarter million deaths and great environmental damage. News spread rapidly and reaction was swift with help arriving from all around the world and even from those within the areas affected. A healing cycle at the global level was truly unfolding!


Reflecting on both stories recounted above some important truths are powerfully revealed:
The structure of animals is the work of a Master who is wise and loves the living Niels Stensen (1638 1686); and
Each and every person, made in the image and likeness of God, is called to be an International Centre for Environmental Health.

Reading the Signs of our Times

On April 27, 2014, Pope Francis canonized Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. Their lives are truly a testament to their living out faithfully the call imprinted in each and every human person by the Creator; and of encouragement to us to read the signs of the times in the creation itself. May we be inspired by their teaching and example and become true carers of one another and of the environment, our home.

Peace on Earth-which man throughout the ages has so longed for and sought after-can never be established, never guaranteed, except by the diligent observance of the divinely established order. John XXIII Pacem in Terris No. 1

The Triune God ? giving himself in the Holy Spirit as gift to man, transforms the human world from within, from inside hearts and minds. Along this path the world, made to share in the divine gift, becomes? ever more human, ever more profoundly human. John Paul II Dominum et Vivificantem No. 59

But ask the animals and they will teach you, the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all of these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being.
Job 12: 7-10

Peace on Earth Encyclical, Para: 163. Pope St John XXIII
Hence among the very serious obligations incumbent upon men of high principles, We must include the task of establishing new relationships in human society, under the mastery and guidance of truth, justice, charity and freedom?relations between individual citizens, between citizens and their respective States, between States, and finally between individuals, families, intermediate associations and States on the one hand, and the world community on the other. There is surely no one who will not consider this a most exalted task, for it is one which is able to bring about true peace in accordance with divinely established order.

“I’ve been considering the phrase ‘all my relations’ for some time now. It’s hugely important. It’s our saving grace in the end. It points to the truth that we are related, we are all connected, we all belong to each other. The most important word is all. Not just those who look like me, sing like me, dance like me, speak like me, pray like me or behave like me. ALL my relations. It means every person just as it means every blade of grass, rock, mineral and creature. We live because everything else does. If we were to collectively choose to live that teaching the energy of that change of consciousness would heal all of us — and heal the planet. We do it one person, one heart at a time… we are connected, we are the answer.” Richard Wagamese, 2015.