January 31, 2019, 1:30-4:00. Christ Church Cathedral Parish Hall, Vancouver BC
This church, Christ Church Cathedral, one of Vancouver’s oldest surviving churches built by settlers, has welcomed the community at the corner of West Georgia and Burrard for 125 years. Once the brightest and tallest building in the settler city, it was known as ‘the light on the hill’, used by mariners for navigation as they came into port.
But before that, on this land, still unceded today by the Musqueam, Tsleil-waututh and Squamish Nations, the thick forest here contained fir trees over 300 feet high. Indigenous peoples lived by the thousands in the villages of Khwaykhway in the now named Stanley Park, Musqueam at the mouth of the Fraser River’s north arm, Sunahk at the mouth of what the settlers named False Creek. Along the shore that the European explorers named Spanish Banks and Locarno there were once (2500 years ago) the villages of Ee’yulmough and Ee’eeyulmough. Families caught trout and salmon from the streams entering the beach at the foot of what are now Bayswater and Macdonald Streets, they gathered mussels, clams, oysters there at low tide. We are told that area was called Tsumtsahmuls (grindstone) – because of the sandstone outcroppings along the shore used to sharpen tools. There is not a time I walk on that beach near my home when I don’t think about the people who have gone before. We who have come afterwards acknowledge their presence, from long long ago through to now. At the very least we do that, knowing how much there is yet for us learn and understand.
This salon ‘Generations Rising: inspiring climate action’ arose out of a discussion David Suzuki had with the Suzuki Elders late last fall. The latest iteration of the IPCC report was just released. David expressed his grave concern to us that this latest report – a clear call to action in his mind – would be set aside. “We’ve got to get the politicians to put climate first” he said, “and this is a federal election year – October 20 is a very important date – we have to DO something!”
As it turns out, it seems the IPCC report impact is being felt widely. Climate change is on the radar screens of more people than ever before. We see deeper actions taking place – from the Extinction Rebellion emanating out of the UK, to the Green New Deal organizing in the USA, to the Friday Walkouts for Climate Change undertaken by school-age children worldwide – inspired by young Greta Thunberg’s soul-wrenching speeches in front of the Swedish parliament and the COP 24 meeting in Poland. And we see the rising of Canadians concerned about fossil fuel infrastructure here in BC.
The Suzuki Elder Education Working Group took David’s words to heart. We chose to develop this salon to focus particularly on younger climate activists who were, and are, putting their energies to mount climate actions in a range of ways. Suzuki Elders have been working with and following some of these young people since they began their environment work in high school. They are now studying or working in their chosen fields, and are deeply committed to action, to understanding, to analysis. We thought – why not put together an event where elders and youth can talk and learn from one another about actions that PUT CLIMATE FIRST.
So that’s why we are here today. To talk and learn from one another, to act.
A few contextual points first to set the tone. There are many ways to think about and act on the causes and impacts of climate change
First – who we are in this room
In this room today everyone present is already acting in some way to deal with what they know about climate change. This includes learning what the issues are, changing our own attitudes and behaviour, connecting with and sharing information, ideas, and worries about the issue with our children, grandchildren, parents, and friends in our neighbourhoods and communities. We are involved in schools and universities, groups large and small, non-government organizations, community, institutions, and all political parties. Some of us write, or have written, policy or legislation. Some of us have run for office. In our lifetimes most of us have lobbied someone, somewhere, about something – with letters, phone calls, attending rallies, occupying a minister’s office. All of us have marched.
Second – about how we think
Most of us, especially those here who bring their lived experience in other movements, understand there is a critical overlap between key issues in each of those movements. In today’s vocabulary, the word is not overlap – it is intersectionality. These other movements include: Indigenous rights, women’s rights, poverty-reduction, animal rights, conservation, social justice, men’s rights, food security, housing, disability rights, Immigrant rights, LGBTQ2spirited rights, health advocacy, children’s rights, seniors rights and – the rights of the environment itself. We know the planet itself is now changing because of climate change and that this change will continue. Wherever we live, whatever privileges we have or don’t have, whatever issue(s) move us in our lives, we know climate change impacts the earth and everything living on it. As we dialogue, plan and act it is crucial for us to respectfully carry this knowledge about our differences and similarities and their intersectionality, with us.
THEME OF THE SALON
COME to explore the range of climate action resources and expertise held by front line youth leaders and elders
COME to talk about ways elders and youth can Put Climate First on the political agenda – it is an election year!
COME to learn from, engage with and support youth in the critical climate activist work they are taking on.
Kate Hodgson, Veronika Bylicki, Nayeli Jimenez, Sophia Yang, Bronia Kingsbury
TOPICS AND PROBES FOR PANELISTS
About organizing climate change actions – your experiences of pulling people and issues together
- What about a particular AHA moment you’ve had when organizing or taking an action forward? Do you have a story to tell about that? Something that worked – or not? Or something that shifted? A moment when you knew whatever you were doing was right on the button…and why?
- What approaches have you found to be most useful in negotiating, or compromising? Is there a story you can tell about a particular approach that worked, and perhaps one that didn’t?
- What advice have you given to someone starting their own environmental/climate action project?
About working on climate action – within the system, against the system, around the system
- What learnings can you share with us about your experiences in any of those arenas (within, against, or around the system)?
- What about partnerships – any advice for about advantages/disadvantages – how to build, what to watch for?
About an analysis of climate change – what’s changed for you over time?
- Issues are seldom static – there’s new information, new angles, change that comes from understanding the experience of others that might not have been seen or understood before. In terms of climate change, what can you share about what might have changed for you over time, how your analysis shifted and how that has changed your work?
About youth working on the front lines
- What challenges do you see coming re climate action and what are your thoughts about dealing with those challenges?
- What help, support, resources do you/your organization(s) need from others to move forward. Who, when, how?
About climate change work and yourself
- How do you deal with the controversy of this work? What do you say to specific arguments, statements, one-upmanship that others hand out to any of us about climate issues?
- There’s more talk these days about people’s feelings of grief and despair over the impact of climate change now, and even more for down the road. Is that something that you feel or observe? How do you deal with those feelings?
- What or who inspires you, moves you, in this work? What do you observe moves others? (as in – moving your heart…)
BREAKOUT GROUPS – CONTENT AND PROCESS GUIDELINES
- Think about WHAT you want all federal political parties and our governments, especially federal, to do to PUT CLIMATE FIRST. (In other words, in your eyes, what does Putting Climate First look like in the party of your choice, or any party, or a federal government?)
- Describe ways HOW you think any of us, as citizens, can take action to (convince, push, encourage, demand, advocate) for a climate first agenda in all political parties and within the federal government. These could be citizen based actions used:
– within the system,
– against the system,
– around the system.
Breakout Group – Suggested Process
To ensure that everyone who wants to share has the opportunity to speak, group discussion will proceed in the following way:
- The facilitator will start the discussion with their response to Q 1.
- Once the facilitator has finished responding to Q 1, they will directly choose & invite someone else to speak next. Who is invited needn’t be the person sitting next to you. After the next person has spoken, that person is given the privilege to invite another to share.
- If the person invited does not wish to speak yet, they simply say “pass” and then they proceed to invite another to share.
- The invitation process continues until everyone has been invited to provide a first response to Q1. The conversation will then be opened up to usual conversation until everyone who wants to has spoken.
- The facilitator has responsibility for deciding when to move on to Q 2.
When the group is ready to discuss question 2, use the same process to get going.
This process addresses differences in perceptions of personal power among participants. In ensuring a person who ‘passes’ on their answer still has the privilege to invite, you affirm and value that person independent of their decision when (or if) to speak.
[Modified, from The Wolf Shall Dwell with the Lamb: A Spirituality for Leadership in a Multicultural Community, by Eric H.F. Law. Chalice Press, 1993. Appendix A.]
I am on the board of The Jellyfish Project (JFP), a non-profit society dedicated to educating and empowering youth to become environmental stewards through the power of high-energy music performances by bands, followed by captivating slide presentations on ocean health and climate change.
All of The Jellyfish Project musician/presenters are in their 20’s and early 30’s because we believe that our message to youth is more impactful coming from young people. Since the inception of The Jellyfish Project in 2011, our bands have presented to 190 schools and 90,000 students across the country. By the end of June, we will have delivered an additional 25 presentations.
My role in our organization is to book schools for our bands and to engage in outreach. My energy is currently focused on a JFP initiative which will be a nationwide pre-federal election campaign involving non-voting age youth making video recordings of themselves uploaded to Instagram, demanding that climate action be at the top of the candidates’ election platforms.
Although I am no longer a youth, I am a parent of two children who are youth advocates and activists. My daughter, Olivia, has demonstrated her activism through successful letter-writing campaigns, petitions, and small-group meetings. And my son, Daniel, who died in 2015 at 28 years old, demonstrated his activism by co-founding The Jellyfish Project and being its executive director, as well as a JFP musician. Although his voice can no longer be heard, his legacy carries on and it is my work to speak on his behalf.
Veronika is an engagement innovator, community builder and sustainability strategist. She is the Co-Founder & Co-Director of CityHive, an organization on a mission to transform the way that young people are engaged in shaping their cities: in particular in decision making, city planning and urban sustainability issues. A lifelong Vancouverite, she is passionate about creating more sustainable, liveable cities and amplifying the meaningful engagement of citizens, particularly youth, in addressing urban challenges. She was a part of the BCCIC youth delegation to COP24 in Katowice, Poland.
Veronika completed her BSc in Global Resource Systems at UBC, with a specialization in Urban Sustainability, Policy and Planning. Her experience includes working in Sustainability Education Facilitation with Metro Vancouver, Student Sustainability Engagement at UBC, and in Environmental Assessment with Environment and Climate Change Canada, and as a Director at Co-Design Engage, which leads participatory design processes in city planning. She was awarded as a Top 25 Under 25 Environmentalist in Canada in 2015, has delivered a TEDxYouth talk on Urban Sustainability and was a Social Innovation Fellow at RADIUS SFU. Veronika is currently a Commissioner on the Vancouver City Planning Commission and Board Member for CityStudio Vancouver. Veronika is an outdoor enthusiast, avid cyclist and can often be found on Vancouver’s seawall.
Sophia Yang is a community animator, “fun-cilitator”, and passionate climate communicator. She was inspired to join the climate action movement at the age of 11 after being inspired by an article interviewing David Suzuki regarding what youth can do to raise awareness about global warming. In the same year, Sophia’s parents took her to every single national park in Alberta the summer of 2006 since her grandparents from China came to live with them in Calgary. As a result, Sophia fell in love with the natural environment and our relationship to mother earth that summer, always knowing in the back of her mind that the environment would be a defining topic for her future.
In fall 2013, Sophia moved to Vancouver to pursue her undergraduate degree in Natural Resources Conservation in the Faculty of Forestry at UBC, an obvious choice of a degree for her since it combines social sciences, policy, arts, and scientific knowledge. Sophia was deeply humbled in fall 2016 when she got the chance to volunteer as a Public Information Volunteer at the David Suzuki Foundation, in which talking to her childhood role model on various occasions and getting the chance to volunteer in the DSF Vancouver office inspired her to work even harder, and relish in the power education has on changing young minds.
She had another humbling and inspiring experience similar to volunteering at DSF after returning from COP 24 in December 2018 held in Poland, where Sophia was a Youth Delegate with the British Columbia Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC) in week 1, and attended COP 24 in the second week on behalf of UBC. Following this experience but always deep in her heart, Sophia is inspired by the ways in which art can contribute to climate story-telling and climate communications, especially in mobilizing young people to take action.
Sophia is currently working as an Urban Forestry Research Assistant at UBC. She is is deeply passionate about ENGO work and public engagement having worked for organizations such as Natural Resources Canada, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Parks Canada, Elements Society, and UBC Sustainability. Sophia has been the recipient of The Starfish Canada’s Top 25 Under 25 twice in 2017 and 2018 for her work in renewable energy and youth engagement, and hopes to continue to advocate for youth involvement and the importance of climate education and communication in every aspect.
Kate Hodgson is a community organizer and fourth-generation Scottish settler born and raised on the unceded homelands of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ speaking xwmǝƟkwǝyʼəm People (Vancouver). Currently a First Nations & Indigenous Studies major at UBC, Kate is also the Coordinator for UBCc350, a student-led community that lobbies decision-makers to take real action on climate change. Recently, her efforts have been focused on fueling UBCc350’s Divestment campaign to bar UBC’s investments in the fossil fuel industry. Kate is also an organizer for Powershift: Young & Rising, a convergence of young people taking place in Ottawa to chart a course for the climate movement on Turtle Island. Kate was named one of Canada’s Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 in 2016, and has also been recognized in the Globe and Mail’s Top 10 under 20.
Nayeli is originally from Mexico, and works as a graphic designer and art director in Coast Salish territories. She has been involved in climate justice organizing since 2014, mainly working on campaigns against pipelines and fossil fuel expansion. She developed her vocation for environmental work and activism during her university studies, mostly focusing her work on sustainable agriculture, but it wasn’t until she attended the 2014 One Young World youth summit in Dublin, that she began to focus on climate justice. In 2016, Nayeli was invited to Merit360, a program bringing youth from all over the world together to create an action plan to tackle the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs). She was the facilitator for SDG13: Climate Action, and led a team of 22 young people from 19 different counties, in developing a project on climate resilience, that culminated in a presentation at the UN’s Headquarters in New York.
Nayeli has been organizing locally with 350Vancouver for almost 3 years, where she has found a home in grassroots climate justice work. She has helped organize multiple actions, fundraising events, rallies, and campaigns, where she has tried to be a voice for people of colour, especially women, in a mostly white, male-dominated environmental movement. Nayeli is currently the Art & Culture co-coordinator for Powershift: Young and Rising, a youth-led climate justice convergence taking place in Ottawa, on the land of the Algonquin Anishinabe, that will bring hundreds of young people from across the country to learn about intersecting issues related to climate justice and how to take strategic action. She has found a passion in resisting through art, where she can bring her own professional and creative backgrounds into climate organizing. In her day job, Nayeli recently became the Art Director at Greystone Books, where she melds her twin passions for editorial design and social and environmental justice.
BREAKOUT GROUP DISCUSSIONS
Generations Rising: Inspiring Climate Action – January 31, 2019
(each person voted for three priority ‘wants’)
WHAT you want all federal political parties and our federal government to do to put climate first.
Be truthful, call it a climate change crisis (13 priority votes)
-need to be truthful, identify climate crisis/ be more realistic when it comes to climate action, declare a climate crisis, call it a climate disaster, demand transparency/face responsibility/take action (12 priority votes)
-need to understand what will happen to future generations if politicians don’t listen and act (1 priority vote)
Have a Climate Action Plan in place that is accountable, measurable, responsible (11 priority votes)
-need to have a climate action plan with accountability, better measures of success/adopt new metrics/measurement (5 priority votes)
-develop climate policy market measures, carbon tax/revenue neutral (1 priority vote)
-need to have climate framework in ALL policy making (1 priority vote)
-need to understand climate change as business opportunity (3 priority votes)
-need to NOT have climate be political, develop a climate consensus (1 priority vote)
Climate Action Plan for political parties and federal government should include these elements (23 priority votes)
-stop subsidizing fossil fuels (8 priority votes)
-need to invest in clean energy (4 priority votes)
-need to support more public transportation
-need to tax cost of flying (except for isolated and fly in communities) (2 priority votes)
-price on pollution
-loans for mid-cap projects
-progressive income tax
-figure out how to use pipeline for positive change & just transition
-need to reject ‘double think’, i.e. that pipelines/climate action are compatible (2 priority votes)
-extractive industries must go
-honour climate change commitments already made (4 priority votes)
Need to plan just transition (to clean/alternative energy) (18 priority votes)
-need to develop clear vision of active just transitions, green jobs, green new deal concept (6 priority votes)
-need to have clear climate justice process (2 priority votes)
-need to support families during the transition to new energy infrastructure (4 priority votes)
-need green new deal, minimum income during energy transition (4 priority votes)
-find alternative jobs for people in fossil fuel industry (2 priority votes)
Respect UNDRIP, work with Indigenous People (11 priority votes)
-need to follow UNDRIP, honour commitment to respect Indigenous rights, continued reconciliation (11 priority votes)
Listen to youth, children (6 priority votes)
-need to use/amplify children’s voices, really listen to youth, support teen challenge to politicians (6 priority votes)
Educate public about climate change and climate action (5 priority votes)
-need to talk about the true issues at grassroots level, foster talks/town halls (1 priority action)
-need to provide real climate education, to scale and urgent (4 priority votes)
Voting issues (4 priority votes)
-bring in mandatory voting (3 priority votes)
-voting stations at universities (1 priority vote)
Pledge Citizen’s Right to a Healthy Environment (3 priority votes)
-need to pledge to right to a healthy environment (3 priority votes)
HOW any of us can take action within, against, around system to get a climate first agenda in all political parties
(each person asked to vote for 3 actions they could take on)
Actions I can take on Within the system
Engage, get involved, with local political parties (14 action votes)
-participate, get involved at local level party campaigns (5 action votes)
-engage with candidates, advocacy/activism (5 action votes)
-influence party delegates at policy conferences (1 action vote)
-quiz political leaders, meet up with politicians wherever you can – conferences, events
-support Green Party agenda (2 action votes)
Speak to candidates/politicians directly about specific Climate Action Plan details (6 action votes)
-ask for the right to a healthy environment, action driven, with cost accounting so that real price of damage done and accountability built in from start, specifics & measurables (6 action votes)
Talk to, mentor younger people about issues/voting (6 action votes)
-use/amplify children’s voices (4 action votes)
-talk to younger generation about how to be a voter
-encourage & mentor young people to run for office (1 action vote)
Act as an individual (6 action votes)
-individual actions, consumer less, take responsibility (6 action votes)
Write creative handwritten letters (5 action votes)
-handwritten letter writing on climate action at public events (2 action votes)
– write love letters to the planet and give to politicians (3 action votes)
Get people voting (5 action votes)
-vote, get others to vote , vote for those with climate plan (4 action votes)
-vote against political parties not listening
Think, do own analysis (5 action votes)
-develop clear vision of just transitions, green new deal concept (4 action votes)
-do policy analysis – what is blocking and supporting action on issues identify roadblocks, name and shame
Actions I can take on Against the system
Powerful mobilization around climate action for federal election, make it election issue (26 action votes) including :
Get involved in civil disobedience, strikes (15 action votes)
-civil disobedience-shutdowns, sit ins, disruptions (5 action votes)
-strike for climate demonstrations (7 action votes)
-support Greta Thunberg and school strikes (3 action votes)
Support other groups in actions (11 action votes)
-solidarity with front line movements and communities, be a body, show up at marches etc (9 action votes)
-support grassroots action with indigenous groups (2 action votes)
-need to change the system (3 priority votes)
Actions I can take on Around the System
Actively communicate/engage/collaborate with others (18 action votes)
-blog, speak out, start a conversation, use social media ,video clips (10 action votes)
-collaborate/reach out to environmental community/support groups doing good stuff (4 action vote)
-media/art education (3 action votes)
-use severe weather events & environmental emergencies as eye openers to create awareness (1 action vote)
Other (5 action votes)
-look at our own impact on environment, city and BC legislation (1 priority vote)
-hold climate conversations to prevent burnout in activists
-learn about building emotional resilience/strengthen the community (3 action votes)