News Release

Earth Day — Canadian Latter-day Saints Protect the Environment

Canadian members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are protective of their beautiful land, knowing it’s a sacred gift from God. Since Canada boasts the world’s longest coastline, more lakes than any other country and the world’s largest source of freshwater, it’s understandable why Canadian Latter-day Saints would feel passionate about their environment.

We invited three Latter-day Saints to share their feelings about nature and what they are doing to protect the environment.

God’s Divine Fingerprint

“The Earth has God’s divine fingerprint entangled throughout it,” said Lundbreck, Alberta, schoolteacher Jonathan Koegler, who spends his summers as an interpretive hiking guide, spreading his knowledge and enthusiasm for nature in Waterton Lakes National Park. “I believe this Earth is God’s garden, and we are charged with learning about it and tending it.”

Koegler grew up on the coulees outside Lethbridge, Alberta, the son of a physician, who taught him to experience nature with all his senses. “[My dad] told me to drag my fingers through the water when we were paddling through it, sniff the pine needles, feel and smell the air, and mimic the sounds of squirrels, dogs and more,” he said. During the school year, Koegler teaches career and technology studies at Livingstone School, where he also tries to help students recognize and admire the beauty of the world.

Koegler encourages people to protect the Earth by doing simple things like picking up trash, learning about plants and animals in their area, and regularly spending time in nature pondering God’s creations with gratitude.

Whale of a Passion

Ten years ago, Ivan Ng’s son taught his whale-watching father an important lesson: “When I hear spouts, stop everything I’m doing and go see some whales!” Ng wrote in his journal. The two were beach camping. Ng was cooking breakfast when they heard loud spouts. His son, Sam, ran to the shore while Ng continued his meal preparations.

“Sam came running back 10 minutes later with great excitement to say he’d seen two humpback whales surfacing and spy hopping,” recalled Ng, a volunteer sighting analyst and editor for the Wild Ocean Whale Society (WOWs), a nonprofit marine conservation society based in Powell River, British Columbia.

Ng, a father of four and science teacher at Bodwell High School in North Vancouver, has been volunteering for WOWs since 2015. He is devoted to its mission to raise public awareness of, as well as respect and enthusiasm for, the protection and welfare of whales. As an analyst and editor, he collects and compiles reports of whale and dolphin sightings from others in British Columbia for the public and the scientific community. He reviews online publications for WOWs and gives in-person and virtual presentations about whales and dolphins.

“I am in awe when I’m out in nature, whether or not I’m spotting whales,” Ng said. “I feel a lot of contentment, joy and gratitude to Heavenly Father for this Earth and all of His creations. This is what God wants us to feel and why He created all of this — to bring us joy.”

Ng’s advice to all is simple: Do the basics. Recycle your plastics. Save electricity. Walk or bike. “Everything we do or don’t do affects the environment,” he said. “And in the case of whales, there are direct links to things like plastics causing them to die.”

From Multi-million Dollar Company to Living Off the Grid

Les Harper knows a few things about recycling. In 1986, while living in Lloydminster, Alberta, Harper created a multi-million-dollar company named Little Dipper, which recycled automobile oil into diesel fuel. He sold it in 2007, intending to build another — that is, until he felt inspired otherwise.

“A voice came to me very clearly saying, ‘How much is enough?’” recalled Harper. “I realized we had adequate funds to meet our needs.”

He and his wife, Alpha, decided to move to Laie, Hawaii, where he helped Brigham Young University–Hawaii save more than $1 million a year by reducing energy and water usage. He also began teaching students to build their own sustainable businesses to help their communities after returning home from university.

“Our intent is to serve by teaching others [about sustainability] for as long as we are healthy,” said Harper. “We’re not young, but we are active.”

The couple lives in a tiny house off the grid on a small farm about a mile from the university. “It’s actually a shipping container with solar panels on the roof and big windows that let in cool breezes at night,” Harper said.

Harper believes the more time people spend in nature, the closer they are to God. “When my hands are in the soil, and I can see what I produce, I see that God has put everything in place to fulfill the measure of my creation,” he said. “Everything around me was created by Him to fulfill a spiritual purpose. It’s absolutely profound.”

Read the story in French.

Additional Resources

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