The Climate + Justice + Cities Speaker Series at the School of Cities began on a passionate and hopeful note with "Youth for Climate Justice", an inspiring exchange led by three accomplished climate activists who shared their insights and lived experiences of their ongoing climate action as part of this panel event. Organized in partnership with Fridays For Future Toronto, the dialogue began with presentations that highlighted each of the panelists' individual climate justice journeys so far, and their significant efforts to address the inequities of the climate crisis, particularly among women and girls, racialized and Indigenous communities. The presentations were followed by a fascinating panel discussion led by moderator Prof. Jessica Green where the speakers shared their motivations, models for change, and what they do to remain hopeful.
Here are some of the notable points made by the speakers:
Kekhashan Basu | Founder-President, Green Hope Foundation
“The climate justice movement has been happening for years, led by young people and women. Now particularly western media has picked up on the flashiest (actions) which is striking and protesting by young people making (these) the face of the youth climate movement. This has led to the tokenization and stereotyping of all young people as just strikers and protesters blaming the government… these strikes have taken the attention away from .. young people bringing about change on a day-to-day basis at the ground level to mitigate climate change.”
“Green Hope Foundation’s work focuses on negating the impacts of climate change as an inequality multiplier by bringing about bringing change through our 600+ environment academics, learning centres for resilience building through based learning on adaptation techniques (against climate change)”
“We do our best to mitigate (climate change) by… installing wells in communities to provide these climate-vulnerable areas with clean arsenic-free water - building toilets in homes and schools in LDCs (least developed countries)... so that the girls and women have safe spaces, both in their homes as well when the girls go to school have safe spaces there.”
Naomi Leung | Organizer, Climate Education Reform BC and Sustainabiliteens
“(The media) tends to criminalize indigenous land and water defenders and other people of colour who are also fighting for climate justice. I think it’s important now to center on how we really need to listen to indigenous leadership and how it's not just about climate striking but it’s about solidarity within the movement and it’s about listening to indigenous solutions and science. (Also) it’s about listening to how indigenous people have been saying since millennia that decolonization is the climate solution.”
“No climate justice without racial justice! Our liberation is tied together”
“Climate Education Reform BC is to process climate emotions together: eco-anxiety, overwhelm, learned helplessness often stops youth from acting. What if we processed our emotions collectively?"
“(Climate justice can be compared to) building a coliseum that is being built, adding one brick at a time. It can often feel insignificant but I think it’s actually the exact opposite because we get to be a part of something collectively and we get to be part of a movement”
Autumn Peltier | Water protector and Anishinabek Nation Chief Water Commissioner
"I started raising my voice & using my voice because I was attending a water ceremony in the First Nations community not far from mine, & I wasn't aware of what a boil water advisory was, or I wasn't aware that like my people could not drink their water or have access to it."
“It was a really big eye-opener when I was 8 years old, my mom explained why I had to use hand sanitizer after using a washroom in the First Nations community. She said that the community they were in had been on a boil water advisory for over 25 years and I still didn’t really understand what that meant. The same night I went home, I was researching… speeches (regarding) what boil water advisories were… I realized that kids who are the same age as me and who are younger than me didn’t know they were growing up in a community where they didn’t have access to clean drinking water.”
“(Boil Water Advisory) affected me because having to raise a family on bottled water or water that you have to (physically) walk and get your own is a lot of work especially for single mothers, children and elderlies. It impacted me a lot knowing that is the issue my people face in a country we’ve come from and a country that is known as a first-world country. And we have to live like this? …This issue is not talked about (enough) ”
Watch the recording of the event below:
This event is a part of the School of Cities 2022 Climate + Justice + Cities Speaker Series. Click here to register for the next event in this set of fascinating conversations.