Reclaiming the Environmental Narrative

About the Program

Reclaiming the Environmental Narrative (REN) focuses on climate justice storytelling and amplifying the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) youth in the environmental movement.

During the 2021-22 school year, REN supported six BIPOC youth (aged 14-24) to each develop a multimedia storytelling project that explored their relationship with nature, the climate crisis, and the environmental challenges that are important to them and their community. By offering participants an environmental action toolkit, mentorship, multimedia storytelling training, and opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, REN aimed to:

  • Highlight BIPOC narratives in the environmental movement, which has been historically white-centred.
  • Improve the mental, emotional, and physical health of participating BIPOC youth.
  • Empower participants to develop tangible multimedia skills and confidence as environmental changemakers. 
  • Develop meaningful connections and relationships with and among participants.

It is important we highlight and acknowledge that REN is only possible thanks to the many BIPOC activists and land defenders who drew attention to the historic whiteness and Western-centrism of the mainstream environmental movement in so-called British Columbia. REN was inspired by One Earth: People of Color Protecting the Planet by Anuradha Rao, a book of twenty short biographies of BIPOC land defenders and activists of all ages from around the globe. This book, which is a great resource for classrooms, highlights the importance of the intersections of race and environment while celebrating the powerful community leaders who have shared their stories. Orca publishers have also created a supplementary classroom guide of teacher resources available for purchase from their website. We also thank our funders, BC Multiculturalism and ValTel/Safeway Community Foundation.

Meet the 2021 - 2022 Cohort

On March 6, 2022, our cohort of six youth storytellers showcased their stories for the first Reclaiming the Environmental Narrative Showcase.

The REN cohort showcased their diverse collection of stories using an incredible range of media including animation, poetry, photo-visual collages, a screenplay, and a completed book. Read more about these incredible youth and their backgrounds below!

ANA is an Asian-Canadian animator living on the ancestral, stolen territory of the cəw̓aθən (Tsawwassen), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), and Coast Salish peoples.

Their goal is to fuel conversations about climate and racial justice by making an animation based on the song "Whatever You Do Kid" by Once A Tree. 

Anica Lee is a 16 year old mixed Korean, English, Irish and Manx climate justice organizer and settler on stolen, traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil Wau’tuth. She believes climate justice is critical in the environmental movement because of its roots in anti-oppression and community. 

Outside of organizing, she enjoys reading, dancing, listening to music and hanging with her family and friends. She is very excited to share her project “WE ARE ALL CONNECTED” with everyone and is very grateful for all of the opportunities and people she’s met while doing this project.

You can find Anica’s story here.

Nafeesa is a queer, neurodivergent, 2nd-generation Khoja immigrant-settler who grew up in Tsuu T’ina and Niitsítapi territory, studied on stolen Musqueam lands, and is currently living on Haudenosaunee, Anishinabe, Mississauga, and Wendake-Nionwentsïo territory. 

They have been taught formally in genetics, physiology, and neuroscience at UBC, and informally in community organizing and cultural anecdote. At age 22, they commit to being a lifelong learner who values constant humility and plurality of epistemology and ontology. They are learning to practice rest and connection in their life, which currently takes the form of cooking traditional recipes, walking their cat, and playing board games with friends.

They seek to pay homage to their teachers and share their lessons through their book, Adheena - to hear, to listen, to learn, and look forward to the conversations they hope their recollection will engender.

Use this link to support their work: 

You can find Nafeesa’s story here.

Naomi Leung (they/she) is a queer 18 year old racial and climate justice organizer and Chinese Malaysian setter on unceded and unsurrendered Musqueam and Tsawwassen territories. They have a background organizing for climate justice with Climate Education Reform BC and Sustainabiliteens. Naomi organizes with the understanding of how the environmental movement has historically excluded, erased and undermined the voices of IBPOC women, girls, Trans and Non-Binary people while impacting them hardest. 

Using digital editing and photography, their story highlights four snapshots of emotions and experiences she’s felt from entering and organizing in the climate movement. She explores how her climate story has evolved from feeling excluded and unimportant to feeling joy and hope in the BIPOC community in the fight for their collective liberation. Naomi is excited to co-facilitate the event and share her story!

Instagram Art account: @sold4parts

Sophie is a mixed Chinese, Indian, Belgian, and south-east Asian neurodivergent climate justice organizer. She is 16, and a settler on stolen and traditional Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil Wau’tuth lands. 

She organizes through an intersectional lens in the climate justice movement and wishes to share her ideas and thoughts from her lived experiences in this movement. Sophie's project; reflections: in the climate movement is a honest and candid collection of stories and words she wishes to share with you all. 

You can find Sophie’s story here.

Tuuli is a queer BIPOC born and raised in Vancouver. They are passionate about Indigenous issues and climate action, so their story is a mixture of those topics. 

They have decided to write a play on the story of their father’s immigration, and are very excited to share it with the community.

You can find Tuuli’s story here.

If you are interested in participating in REN in the future, leave your email below to be notified when the program will run again.

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Our Supporters

City of Vancouver
The Humber Foundation
TD Friends of the Environment Foundation
Environment Canada
Vancouver School Board
Delta School District
Multifaith Action Society
Surrey Schools
Burnaby School District
Jack of Hearts Productions
Abbotsford School District
Richmond School District
British Columbia
Red Cross
BC Hydro
Chris Spencer
SM Blair
Vantel Safeway
BC Gaming
Eco Canada
Electricity Human Resources Canada
Project learning Tree

Be the Change is a proud member of the Canadian Environmental Network.