This blog was a collaborative effort by Alexa Waud, Khadoni Pitt-Chambers and Sana Ahmed, summer students at GreenPAC.
It is finally summer in the city — the days are long, the Toronto Island ferries are always packed, children are out of school, and many post-secondary students have made the shift from the classroom to the office for summer internships and a taste of the real world. Here at the GreenPAC office, we are very excited to welcome three students onto our team for the summer.
Sana is entering her final year of Environmental Studies at York University, where she focuses on arts, culture, media, and communications; Khadoni just finished his first year at Carleton University studying Earth Science; and Alexa just finished her third year at Trinity College, University of Toronto, where she is completing a double major in Peace, Conflict and Justice, and Environment and Health.
Sabrina Bowman, GreenPAC’s Outreach Director, decided to sit down with Khadoni, Sana, and Alexa to discuss environmental politics:
Why do you think environmental leadership is important?
Sana: Environmental leadership in politics is important because real change happens with strong policies that protect the environment. In order to have those policies implemented, we need leaders in government who will push for them.
Khadoni: We need environmental leaders in politics because politicians have the ability to transform our hopes, dreams, beliefs, and ideas into law. Without strong environmental champions in politics, every noteworthy or groundbreaking idea would eventually just fizzle out. Alone we can accomplish nothing, but together, by working with the policy and lawmakers, we can make a difference.t protect the environment. In order to have those policies implemented, we need leaders in government who will push for them.
Alexa: Global climate change is a threat to our modern way of life and some populations in their entirety. This is not an inconsequential policy debate, but one of great magnitude and urgency. The government has the power to make large emissions reductions, to protect natural habitats, and support environmental policies, but cannot exercise this power without environmental leaders.
What are you most excited about working on with GreenPAC this summer?
Sana: I am really excited about all aspects of the community engagement work that takes place at GreenPAC. I look forward to social media, tabling and planning events. I am also creating a video this summer and excited to be working on a creative project!
Khadoni: I am most excited to learn about how an organization such as GreenPAC functions from the inside. I’ve volunteered with, and seen the final product of successful startups, however, I haven’t truly been involved in the creation and implementation of the ideas that make an organization.
Alexa: GreenPAC’s non-partisan approach to environmentalism is reaching unconventional audiences while still upholding high standards of environmental leadership and beliefs. And so, I am excited to engage with people from all backgrounds who have an interest in the environment and are concerned about climate change.
How and when did you become interested in the environment?
Sana: As a kid I loved playing outdoors. I had a lot of exposure to suburban parks and trails, and family outings consisted of picnics at the beach. It was enough to instill a love for nature, which has stayed with me all my life. My interest in the environment is rooted in that connection. Once I started to learn more about the issues our planet faces, and how our industrial practices and lifestyles lead to those issues, I knew I wanted to take action by raising awareness through communications.
Khadoni: Steve Irwin and Jacques Cousteau were the ones who sparked my passion towards environmental issues. I knew that to keep them doing what they loved most there had to be a change. It was when I was around 15 years old and I flew over Canada’s west coast that the significance of environmental problems really hit me. Areas completely clear cut, mountains that I had read about being covered in ice and snow had minimal snow covering. It was seeing change in the country I’m from, on the soil I stand on that woke me up and made me realize that if nobody else is going to take an interest, I am.
Alexa: The impetus from my environmentalism is far from romantic. I remember watching “The Inconvenient Truth” at around age 10, being frightened by climate change, and then spending the next few years of my life unplugging all lamps that were not in use to prevent “phantom power.” Fortunately, I’ve learned that this was not an effective way of initiating environmental change. I have worked as a Ranger in Ontario Parks, so I love nature and appreciate conservation. However, I find that my passion for climate change activism has come from a desire for social justice.