Our Story, To Date

Shake Up The Establishment (SUTE) was an idea borne out of the need to be able to have conversations about the future of our world without the barriers of partisanship. With the 2019 Federal election looming ahead, in April 2019, Manvi Bhalla, a recent graduate of the University of Guelph, started asking peers questions about which political party they felt had the best climate action plans. A surprising outcome that came of these conversations was that most individuals knew more about the U.S. election platforms than the Canadian ones, despite the fact that the U.S. election was over a year away at the time. This led to the idea of developing a non-partisan source for materials on the climate crisis and environmental degradation in a Canadian context, backed with the validity of scientific sources.

Through the teamwork of Manvi Bhalla, Janaya Campbell, Taro Halfnight and Cameron Fioret, in May 2019, a website was launched which contained a political party comparison chart that had the environment and climate change platforms of each of the major political parties in Canada. Within a month, Clara MacKinnon-Cabral joined the team, and helped to design content for, and manage, the team’s social media platforms. Clara also set the basis for SUTE’s brand through the design and creation of print materials/resources which were widely disseminated across the country. By July 2019, Christina Di Carlo and Sam Paton had joined the team as political and scientific researchers, respectively, and they contributed immensely to the organization’s resource pool. With Christina and Sam’s countless hours of work, SUTE moved beyond just being the host of a political party platform comparison chart, to instead being considered a resource hub with the potential to improve climate literacy through the creation of countless primers, or basic concept summaries.

In September 2019, this grassroots initiative championed by these 7 leaders launched a national campaign to promote the youth voter turnout. By October 2019, this collective, which had again since increased in numbers by a couple of new general volunteers, held collaborative awareness events with Patagonia surrounding the election and created a lasting impression on the climate action sector by creating a space for youth-led political climate advocacy. After the 2019 Federal election, the team realized that there was a continued niche that needed to be filled with diverse youth voices. Further, there was a great need to continue the important conversations that pushed for systems-based reforms outside of this election cycle. The team took a hiatus until January 2020, giving members time to reflect upon their involvement for the future of SUTE. During this period, some decided to move on from SUTE, as the original endeavor that they had signed on for had come to an end. The remaining team decided to incorporate SUTE into something bigger, and more sustainable. In February 2020, SUTE emerged as a registered, national not-for-profit organization. However, this is not where our story ends.

By the end of March 2020, the leadership decided that taking a human-centered approach towards addressing this crisis, and others that intertwined with it, needed to become our top priority. Between April to June 2020, our team reflected hard on what kind of organization we wanted to be in the long run, and what reforms were necessary to achieve that. After months of consultations, education and most importantly - conversations - we settled on expanding our mandate beyond just the niche of election-centric political advocacy and broadened our scope to encompass 3 realms:

 

  1. climate justice and the use of equity-centred approaches to climate action, 

  2. non-partisan political advocacy for a equitable, sustainable and livable future, and 

  3. to continue to improve environment & climate literacy for all.

In doing so, we underwent major changes from the top-down in leadership, organizational structure, policies and procedures, and signed our justice mandate into effect. In addition to introducing increased transparency, accountability, continuing equity-centred education and the prioritization of upholding a safe workspace for all, we also shifted our recruitment practices from being institutional qualification-based to those that centre one’s lived experiences to enable the expansion of our team in a manner representative of diverse worldviews.

This important & transformational push of reforms was led by our Board of Directors, Manvi Bhalla, Janaya Campbell and Dr. Komil Bhalla, and our Executive Council members, Christina Di Carlo, John O’Connor and Samantha Casey, who have collectively worked to improve our platform to achieve what it looks like today, and who continue to seek ways to improve it beyond its present iteration. With these reforms, SUTE was truly re-borne.

These changes were inspired by the urgent need to personalize the narrative surrounding climate change, and recognize that the impacts of this crisis will not be borne equitably across all populations. Our organization’s members strongly feel that both our organization internally, and the work we share with the world externally, has since been greatly reflective of this change in priorities and focus. Alongside our Board of Directors who oversee the direction of the organization, and our Executive Council who oversee operations across SUTE’s main departments, we importantly we celebrate the contributions of our collective of over 20 motivated general members (read: change makers!) who are each positioned in a team under one of these departments. These teams, ranging from scientific research, political research, outreach and events and communications are respectively led by Rose Duncan, Aarisha Haider, Stephanie Rosen and Eva Thorpe. Collectively, these inspiring individuals work hard to create the resources which we are thrilled to share with you today.

Who We Are

Shake Up The Establishment is a youth-led, registered (#1190975-4) national non-partisan non-profit organization that operates within the geographical confines of what is currently known as "Canada", but what is referred to by its First Peoples, as Turtle Island. Indigenous peoples have inhabited Turtle Island for over 10,000 years, and were the sole inhabitants less than 500 years ago. We acknowledge that our address resides on Treaty 3 land, and is the traditional territory of the Erie, Neutral, Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Mississaugas Peoples. Turtle Island is still home to many Indigenous peoples and we at SUTE are thankful to be able to live, learn and work on this territory, whilst continuing to create meaningful change for the climate justice movement. We are aware that our actions as an organization and the work we put out have an impact on our land, and on all that inhabit it. We are humbled to be able to follow the lead of centuries long Indigenous-led efforts towards the protection and stewardship of this land and the people that inhabit it. We are committed to continually evaluating & decolonizing our practices, and we do our best to incorporate the lived experiences of the land defenders and protectors within our work. We also want to honour the voices of Black, and non-Black people of colour within our work, and continually recognize their resiliency in the face of years of systemic oppression as imposed by the Canadian state.

 

Our enterprise is inclusive of all folx who call the geographical confines of what is currently known as Canada, home, and we celebrate the horizontal learning that comes from our diverse identities. As an organization, we will try our utmost best to ensure that only individuals with lived experiences are speaking on behalf of their communities, while still recognizing that Black, Indigenous and communities of colour as well as the LGBTQ2S+ community, are not a monolith. We firmly believe in accountability, and commit to being as transparent as possible in our activism space; to research our topics well, support and centre community care, and minimize any harm, no matter the intent. We have strict policies and procedures to uphold these tenets, and update these on a yearly (or as-needed) basis.

1898 Rymal Road East, Hamilton Ontario, Canada L0R 1P0

© 2020 Shake Up The Establishment

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