13 Jul I don’t know about you…but I’m feeling nostalgic
Words come easily to me. I usually have them flowing out of my fingers before they even touch the keyboard or my pen, but, this was unusually difficult for me to write. It’s difficult to reminisce about your past few years when so many amazing and challenging things happened. I’d like to start a bit further back in my reflection, all the way back to elementary school, my first introduction to environmental activism in Senior Kindergarten.
I have been lucky in so many ways in my life, and one of which was that, before I even really understood the significance of the work I was a part of, I helped to paint one of the first school No Idling Banners at my elementary school Gledhill P.S. Being a student at Gledhill is not often something I encourage myself to remember, since I did not have a pleasant experience there. However, Gledhill was the first time I was a member of an eco club, the Eco Tigers. I always go back to these two early involvements when asked what stemmed my environmentalism.
I can’t leave out my early introduction to nature and environmental practices through the dedication of my parents. Having eaten organic and local food for most of my life, being supported at age 8 when I declared I would never eat meat again, and cycling, walking or taking public transit whenever possible. That early introduction evolved into small actions like making a similar banner when I moved elementary schools, lobbying my teachers to have green bins in our classrooms and attempting to organize community clean-ups in local parks. I distinctly remember on Earth Day when I was probably around seven years old, I had put flyers in all of my neighbours’ mailboxes to invite them to help me clean up the litter in the parkette at the end of my street. Unfortunately, no one showed up but myself and my grandma. That was the first of many community events that I have helped to organize, and definitely won’t be the last. I wish that I had had the chance as a younger child to work with an organization like iMatter, and have a channel through which to take action in the way that I very much needed and need to.
This is the no idling banner that I helped to make in Senior Kindergarten
Now, you didn’t come here to read about my childhood, so we’re going to jump ahead a number of years to my high-school involvement in environmentalism and finally with iMatter. Starting high-school I already felt strongly about environmental issues, and terrified about climate change having felt a gnawing fear grow inside of me the previous winter as I thoroughly obsessed over the abnormally warm weather that we were having. However, I remained within my shell of books, studying, horses, music, and easily accessible social action like working with Free The Children.
I was in grade ten when I realized that no one else was going to step up and green our school if I didn’t do it. When I realized that because I am aware of the issues and the climate crisis that it is my duty to help make the world a better place, and that if I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. Myself and my best friend Bonnie restarted our school’s eco club: Riverdale Environmental Action League (REAL). I will get to the crucial involvement I have had in iMatter and the impact it has had on me, but first, the backstory is extremely important. My career as an environmentalist started small, with me feeling a lot, caring a lot, but not understanding the best way to communicate that message to others and inspire them to take action.
This was my first time attending the Toronto District School Board’s EcoSchools kickoff with our small eco team of 4 that eventually grew to over 40 by the end of my high-school career.
REAL was not the only thing that experienced a huge amount of growth throughout my four years in high-school, so did I. I now have the confidence to speak my thoughts, to follow through on my feelings for justice for the climate and for all. I have had many amazing experiences through my environmental work from running the city-wide Toronto Youth Environmental Council, to speaking at and organizing climate rallies, to physically greening my school and getting all staff and students on board to be the most sustainable we can be, to working with numerous other inspiring and amazing youth around the world.
This was at the Rally to Break Free From Fossil Fuels as a part of the international action to break free from fossil fuels that I helped to organize. My best friend and colleague of the Toronto Youth Environmental Council and I emceed the rally.We also were interviewed by local television which was an interesting and confusing experience.
This is my amazing little brother who has the mind of an environmentalist and I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before it will be him, Edwin, who is the author of blogs like this.
Last July I then had the incredible opportunity to attend the Climate Reality Project’s leadership in Toronto where I was trained by Al Gore et al to present on climate change and communicate the issues. There, I connected with youth and adults from around the world, including iMatter leader Eden. Sometime after the training, after I’d done a number of presentations at my school ,at other schools and at conferences, Eden posted in our group from the training asking if anyone would like to be involved in creating a report card for their city grading them on the climate action. I immediately thought it was a fantastic idea and a great way to lobby governments to take further action. Thus, this was my introduction to iMatter.
This is me giving the Climate Reality Presentation in a workshop at the Toronto Youth Environmental Council’s Green Festival.
Joining the iMatter Youth council was one of the best decisions I made this year. Immediately I was welcomed into a passionate and supportive environment where there are so many people ready to help you to be successful in your climate action. It is so inspiring to be a part of a movement where there are people in a different country from you taking action, and making a difference, and getting things done. When you can see the success, see the power that the youth voice can have. It has been a challenge being the first Canadian city to create a climate report card, because I am breaking new waters. It has been a challenge in a city as large as Toronto, and still is. But, it is one that I have the support from iMatter to take on, the dedication to see it through and the passion to get my message across.
I will be going halfway across the country to attend University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia in September which is a journey that I am excited to start! I will be studying the Foundation Year Programme tracing the history of Western Thought first year with electives in environmental science and then I will probably be double majoring in Environmental Science and Environment Sustainability and Society. I am not too sure where I am planning to go after that but I know it will be doing environmental work, whether I work with non-profits, go into education, environmental law or environmental journalism. I am ready to take on bringing the iMatter campaign in at the university level as well as starting a branch of the international organizations 350.org in Halifax and possibly have a branch in the organization working on the report card for Halifax.
One of the most important things to remember is to never lose hope, often, it will feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, but being a part of organizations of iMatter lessen that weight
To finish it off I hope to kick off my University start with some high quality environmental action! Let’s change climate change!