Jewish and Atikamekw Communities Reforest Northern Quebec

MONTREAL, Sept. 1, 2011 /CNW Telbec/ - This Labour Day Weekend a group of Jewish young adults will travel six hours north to Wemotaci, Quebec, to take part in the 15th Annual Wemotaci Pow Wow and begin working hand-in-hand with the Atikamekw First Nations community on the reforesting process of the surrounding devastated forest land.

The group of 23 university students and young professionals, under the banner of Teva Quebec - the Quebec Jewish Coalition for the Environment and with support from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, will spend four days planting trees while learning and exchanging environmental, spiritual and cultural values, including a Pow Wow and a Shabbat dinner ceremony, with their new First Nations friends.

"Our two communities share a strong respect for nature," said Emily Litvack, 25, team leader for Teva Quebec's Jewish Eco-Leadership Training (JELT) replanting initiative. "We want to explore those commonalities, build a relationship and work together to be part of the long-term environmental effort."

The Northern Quebec forest fires of May 2010 forced entire First Nations communities from their homes. Not only do the Atikamekw people depend on these forests for food and resources, the grounds are also central element to their spiritual and traditional practices.

JELT was developed to reach multiple goals, including engaging young adults in environmental issues affecting nearby communities, connecting with individuals who are impacted by these issues and broadening environmental perspectives and practices through collaborative ventures with diverse communities.

"For many of us, this is the first time we're interacting with First Nations. We hope that the concern for the environment we have in common will give us a starting point to form meaningful friendships with the Atikamekw," said Andrew Doyle, 25, a recent graduate of engineering at McGill University. "This is a unique opportunity for us to learn about the earth from a community that continues to live in connection with nature."

TEVA Québec is Montreal's grassroots Jewish environmental education and advocacy group. Its vision is of a Jewish community which plays a leading role in environmental stewardship and awareness in Quebec society. Its mission is to promote Jewish environmental education and action, and to improve the Jewish communities' involvement within the broader environmental movement.

SOURCE Teva Quebec

For further information:

Rabbi Schachar Orenstein, President and Co-Founder of Teva Quebec
rabbis@thespanish.org or 514-824-5102

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Teva Quebec

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