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Recap of the Leading Change x Globe Forum 2024

Positionality Statement

My name is Nicola Radatus-Smith, I use the pronouns she/her and I am a second-generation Canadian of European descent and am residing in what is currently Toronto, Ontario. I acknowledge that this land was traditionally stewarded by many nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. As a settler, white, cis-gendered woman, I do not intend to speak for BIPOC communities but rather strive for allyship and use my privilege to bring attention to issues that have disproportionately impacted these communities. I acknowledge my privilege as being an educated woman, having a degree in biology and sustainability management which has broadened my understanding of environmental, social, economic, and government systems. I recognize these experiences shape my understanding of the world and am open to further education to better understand the experiences of others to tackle environmental justice challenges.


In February 2024, I had the opportunity to attend the Leading Change x Globe Forum hosted in what is currently Vancouver, the unceded traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations on behalf of the youth-led climate justice nonprofit, Shake Up the Establishment (SUTE). I am presently a Policy, Community, and Campaigns Coordinator at SUTE, and as part of my volunteer work, I am provided with the opportunity to attend such events to ensure that intersectional climate justice priorities are being advocated for in the wider environmental movement. 


For some context, Leading Change and the GLOBE forum are sister organizations, as part of the four organizations that make up Profoundry, which coordinate these conferences annually, alternating between being hosted in so-called Toronto and so-called Vancouver. This year’s conference focus was on a regenerative future including topics such as accelerating solutions to achieve community resiliency, restoration, and conservation. The events and activities of the conference reflected this vision by providing a collaborative space for participants from industry, non-profit, government, and academia and diverse identities such as youth, Indigenous, 2SLGBTQIA+, among others. I valued the intersectional representations and the balance of learning and productive conversations in the sessions.  


Leading Change

The first day was run by Leading Change, which brought together over 120 young leaders (aged 19-35) to catalyze action for environmental change through a variety of activities including social labs, keynotes, collaborative workshops, open discussions, and mentoring sessions. One of the most significant highlights of the conference was the opportunity to learn from Pattie Gonia, a drag queen, environmental and 2SLGBTQIA+ activist, and community organizer. Pattie Gonia shared many important lessons, including one about diversity being our superpower. Several identity cards were placed around the room, including but not limited to: gender, race, education, and religion. Participants were prompted with questions such as “What identity are you reminded of most in your day-to-day life?”. We then made groups based on the identity card that we most resonated with. Within the identity card groups I joined, we shared similar feelings about how colonial, patriarchal, and capitalist structures are internalized and can manifest in all aspects of our lives. We shared the collective feeling of stress through having to manage different expectations and mask our identities to succeed in current structures. In addition to the confounding impacts of eco-grief and eco-anxiety that accompany engaging in climate work. I shared the book SUTE self-published, Practicing Rest, Recovery, Resistance: An Interactive Dreaming Journal, as a helpful tool to support others experiencing such feelings. Activities like this made me aware of the importance of creating opportunities to have conversations that provide spaces for people to be authentic in a manner which fosters community-building and solidarity and action toward climate justice. 

 

I also attended a workshop entitled, “Ripples of change: a collaborative journey towards environmental stewardship”. This workshop focused on data and community participation in knowledge gathering to foster healthy environments in our communities. I learned that data is a necessary first step to tackle challenges in our communities, because awareness is the catalyst for finding solutions. I recommend everyone check out ​​Water Rangers to see how you can support community-based water conservation!

 

GLOBE forum

The GLOBE forum took place over two days. There were many optional learning sessions to choose from, featuring panel discussions and opportunities to engage with other conference participants. This, along with breaks for networking, created space for building connections with sustainability professionals and leaders across a variety of industries and sectors. The sessions I took part in focused on topics relating to government and policy, resilient communities (from both a structural and community-centred perspective), and environmental restoration. Though unique in topic, the sessions had recurring themes that were expressed by the panellists and throughout the discussions with participants, which highlighted the interconnected nature of topics and challenges related to building a regenerative future. Some teachings forthcoming from this included that:

  • Industry and governments must prioritize justice and improve data collection and communication with equity-deserving communities. 

  • Political action on climate should leave no one behind, which requires community-informed policies, namely Indigenous wisdom and expertise, as Indigenous communities have been managing natural resources for thousands of years. 

  • Climate and environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) face structural barriers to actioning change, given limited resources for developing effective communication strategies.  


Through these engagements, I recognized that tools such as SUTE’s Map the System can help to counteract such systemic issues by amplifying value-aligned climate justice efforts across what is so-called Canada for youth to find local community efforts. Leaving this conference, I am hopeful to continue my work towards a sustainable future. I’m aiming to focus on amplifying individual identity, collective well-being, and building connections. Tackling the climate crisis requires us to rethink our approaches. 


Overall, my key takeaways across the whole conference included:

  • Building a regenerative future requires systems thinking and collaboration. 

  • Communities should encourage inter-party government collaboration to accelerate progress on climate actions.

  • Social and environmental issues need to be better integrated into climate policies and actions. 

  • Businesses have an opportunity to invest in existing actions and initiatives led by communities and NGOs.

  • For participants, continued conversations approached with the goal of understanding is integral to finding common ground and developing solutions. 

  • Normalize showing up as our full selves and use our diverse perspectives, lived experiences, and gifts to create spaces for others to do the same.

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