David Suzuki addresses environment and racism at CBC Book Club
May 7th, Sunday 1pm
CBC Radio One Book Club
written by Ian Hughes (special to www.gunghaggisfatchoy.com)
A lucky one hundred and twenty contest winners were fortunate enough to attend an intimate presentation of the CBC Studio One Book Club featuring Dr. David Suzuki reading excerpts from his latest book,
David Suzuki: The Autobiography,
published by Douglas McIntyre books.
The format of the show was a combination of round-table discussion,
with hosts MacKay, Sheryl from CBC Radio One's North By Northwest, and
John Burns of the Georgia Straight. Don't miss the two part broadcast beginning on May 27th and concluding
on May 28th, broadcast in Vancouver on CBC Radio One 690 am.
“We’re living in a chemical soup!” he states at one point during the presentation,
but “Nature can be unbelievably forgiving if we give her a chance.” Anyone who has read Dr. Suzuki’s books A Sacred Balance and Good News for a Change knows that he is an expert at both sounding warnings and encouraging solutions.
When Dr. Suzuki wasn’t championing the environment, he was speaking
about how he was personally affected during his time in the
Camps, and how institutional racism affects victims long after racist
legislation passes. He said that he still has a very hard time
watching himself on television because he is reminded of the hateful,
stereotypical, anti-Japanese propaganda that he witnessed as a child
during and after the Second World War. For a long time after the
war, he still had a problem looking into the mirror, and seeing a
Japanese face – even if it was his own.
Suzuki told the audience assembled that he still feels like an
outsider, and at one point actually considered entitling his
autobiography “The Outsider”. Reflecting on the current situation with
our First Nations peoples, Dr. Suzuki said he felt that it is no wonder
current generations grow up to feel like worthless second-class
citizens. Racism, especially racism experienced at an early age, is a
lifelong devastation that can never be fully reversed.
He told a heartbreaking story about one of his first encounters with
racism. It was in the internment camp. It wasn't from white
people. It was from other Japanese-Canadian children. And
it was because he couldn't speak the Japanese language. His
parents had always spoken to him in English, integrating into Canadian society.
I really can’t express how wonderful it was to hear this man – a man who we all grew up watching on CBC
Television's The Nature of Things
– attack each topic with such passion and conviction. It should come
as no surprise that the majority of the discussion focused on
environmental concerns. He frequently apologized for going overtime
with his answers, but anyone who has seen Dr. Suzuki on television or
at various events knows that’s just the type of speaker he is; more
than willing to express joy or astonishment or anger in front of any
group, usually at length.
The afternoon was amazing. Dr. Suzuki went wonderfully over his time
limit by about a half an hour, answered a considerable number of
questions at length, and after the show was good enough to sign
autographs and meet his fans.
This was my first time meeting him in person. My girlfriend
Venus, whose family is originally Japanese from Okinawa was also
thrilled to me one of the greatest living Asian Canadians.
Myself, I regard him as one of the greatest living Canadians, period!
When it came time for Dr. Suzuki to sign the book I presented to
him. I told him that it was for my friend, who had once given
David Suzuki a ride home from a Burrard Indian Longhouse ceremony,
where they had presented Dr. Suzuki with an eagle feather. Suzuki
smiled in rememberance as if recalling the event in his
“You had recommended to Todd to go visit Haida Gwaii. He did, he
loved it, and it changed his life.” I shared with Dr. Suzuki, as he
signed the book for my friend with a knowing nod.
My impression is that Dr. David Suzuki is really a wonderful warm man.
very giving of his time and his ideas. He knows what it takes to
change the world, one idea at a time… one person at a time.
Next on CBC Radio One Book Club – On May 17, Paul Yee,
presents his newly revised edition of the award winning Saltwater City,
in which there should be a picture of “Gung Haggis Fat Choy” (or so he
Check out the David Suzuki Interview by John Byrnes in the Georgia Straight David Suzuki turns up the heat on Harper
- North by Northwest
- Georgia Straight
Vancouver Public Library
International Readers & Writers Festival