Recent heat waves and raging wildfires across so called “BC” and “Canada” have flooded me with feelings of loss and anguish. For me, these extreme weather events bring the climate crisis painfully close to home, leaving me with an unshakable sense of dread about both our present and future. It’s crucial to recognize that these events, which the climate crisis makes more frequent, have a disproportionate impact on homeless people, Indigenous people, and other marginalized and frontline communities already facing inequities.
For children especially, the mental health burden from the climate crisis and climate injustice can be paralyzing. But with community support and education, it doesn’t need to be. Our work at Be the Change seeks to help young people navigate the emotional side of the climate crisis, and take positive personal and community action. To support more youth to get involved in climate action, I spoke in support of youth employment subsidies in green jobs at a recent Environment and Climate Change Canada press conference.
I hope you know that processing feelings of sadness, fear and anger as a result of the wildfires and climate crisis is valid and that you don’t need to do it alone. I encourage you to share your feelings with others so we can process this anxiety and grief in community.
Meet Our New Staff & Hear How They’re Processing Climate Grief and Anxiety
We are happy to welcome our new staff Mica Dela Cruz, Naomi Leung and Hannah Wicki, who will be helping Be the Change developing new learning resources and workshops focused on the UN’s Global Goals, water justice, climate storytelling, and more.
Below is a biography of each of the new staff and a quote about how they are processing their climate grief and anxiety.
Mica Dela Cruz
Mica is Be the Change’s new Environmental Justice Educational Coordinator responsible for supporting programs throughout the year. Mica (she/her) is a first-generation, Filipino settler born in Manila, Philippines, and was raised on the traditional, unceded territories of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish, and Cowichan Nations in so-called “Richmond”. She graduated from Simon Fraser University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Health Sciences. As a public health advocate, she is passionate and enthusiastic about working with the community and improving public health through facilitating positive, sustainable changes in the environment and opening up discussions about important social justice issues within minority and vulnerable groups.
“I am processing climate news in a cautious yet hopeful way - I read the news, reflect on my own actions, and think of how I can share my anxious feelings with others. What’s helping me are my family and friends who share the same worries, knowing that we can find comfort in one another.”
Naomi Leung 梁珮恩 is a second generation immigrant with parents from Malaysia and Hong Kong. Naomi and her family are settlers and uninvited guests residing on unceded, stolen, and unsurrendered Musqueam, Tsawwassen, Tsleil-Waututh, and Cowichan First Nations territories colonially known as “Richmond.” She has a background in organizing for racial and climate justice with Sustainabiliteens, a youth climate striking movement in Metro-Vancouver, and for climate education to be taught in schools with Climate Education Reform BC (CERBC) and their growing campaign. As a young woman of color in the climate justice movement, she is energized to do all anti-colonial work, and aims to do so with Be the Change.
“Beyond anything, I’m exhausted. For the past year and a half, mobilizing our politicians, industries and adults to take bold action on the Climate Emergency has been my whole world. With little balance and a whole load of climate anxiety and grief, these emotions have taken a serious toll on my mental health. I am now learning the importance of centering joy and collective care in my organizing for climate justice. I am now realizing how necessary sustainable action is where I prioritize radical self care as a resistance to capitalist culture. I feel very lucky, inspired and re-energized to be processing my emotions with great company and a community driven to protect our world--we can do this!”
Hannah is a settler Canadian, born on unceded Kwantlen, Stó:lō, and Nooksack territories in so-called Abbotsford, and is currently residing on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Tsleil-waututh, and Squamish peoples in so-called “Vancouver.” As an organizer with Climate Education Reform BC (CERBC), and many local community events, Hannah has been engaged with community and climate action throughout the past 3 years.
“Working and organizing in climate spaces can be heavy, especially as a young person with the impending doom of the climate crisis, so to relax and decompress I like to get my hands dirty in gardening and being outside. I also take time to reflect and process the restlessness that stems from my climate anxiety. I find that taking action helps me, which is why I chose to join the Be the Change team to make a tangible change through educating and empowering students!”
That’s all for now! Be the Change is able to continue its work empowering students and youth through our kind donors. Please donate today! We also encourage you to donate to support the Lytton community in the aftermath of recent wildfires.