Columbia Basin youth, ages 14 to 18, had an opportunity this winter and spring to attend a virtual Climate Action Forum in February and a follow up Food and Climate Action Workshop in March.
The goal was to connect with, learn about and be inspired by the many opportunities and pathways of climate action. To attend it, 80 participants gathered at their respective communities’ youth networks and then tuned into the online event.
The event was made possible by the Basin Youth Network, which Columbia Basin Trust launched in 2016 to help communities in the region increase local activities and opportunities for youth, enabling them to learn new skills and engage with each other and their communities.
The forums covered topics such as fostering climate dialogue, Indigenous clean energy, how business can address climate action, and how research and data can inform actions in supporting climate justice.
There were five presenters from across Canada, one of them being Leeza Perehudoff from Castlegar who is a graduate student doing rural resilience research at Selkirk College.
Perehudoff was impressed with how eagerly the youth contributed to the virtual chat.
“They reflected on humans, and different demographics like seniors and youth, and really how different disturbances affect us all, like flood and fire,” she said.
The forum’s youth organizers also wanted to go one step further; they wanted Basin youth to brainstorm real-life climate action solutions for local situations. This took place at the Food and Climate Action Workshop, hosted by Starfish, a non-profit that connects young environmental leaders.
“It was all around food, food production and food waste and how that has an impact on climate change,” says Mike Kent, Basin Youth Network Regional Coordinator. “Small groups looked at different aspects of that and brainstormed potential solutions.”
The youth watched videos around challenges with food production; global land use, household waste and composting, soil health and regional equitable practices. They brainstormed and debated dozens of ideas how to optimize local land for healthy soil and food, support local food production and create a better global food system.
“It was super inspiring for me to sit in on the Climate Action Forum and realize how many youth in the Basin are engaged in climate action,” said Perehudoff. “To me it felt like my message was heard because of their awesome engagement with the questions that I posed to them.”