Building Climate Community
By Rajdeep Dhaliwal
What an experience it has been to be a mentee apart of this year’s Climate Guides cohort, I never thought I would be in a mentorship program that would help youth generate and implement project ideas in their community. Because of Climate Guides, I was given the opportunity to discuss a wide array of ideas surrounding energy — from implementing a school program to teach kids how to operate solar panels, to discussing how we all may benefit from knowing a little bit about the life cycle assessment, and finally, deciding on creating a documentary to garner a better view on people’s perception when it comes to energy consumption.
Programs such as Climate Guides are integral to have around because they unlock the potential that youth may never have thought they had. By pairing us with mentors in the field, we were able to breakdown our ideas and figure out what actually seemed realistic. Ever since the IPCC report came out last fall stating we have 12 years to avoid climate catastrophe, I felt like my purpose was being shifted. We live in a time that has people feeling like they cannot do much to tackle such a large scale problem like the climate crisis, but I believe, tackling problems as such, begin in the community. That is why opportunities like Climate Guides should be available for all youth to seek out and get involved in.
Prior to this, I never saw myself as an ‘environmental warrior'. I always thought environmentalism was reserved for people who actually took part in the beautiful wonders that our environment offers. Little did I know, just by breathing I was experiencing the wonders of our environment.
As my connection to the land began to unravel, the guilt of breathing clean air and drinking clean water piled on as I became exposed to the notion that my basic human rights were not being equally experienced around the world, let alone, this nation. The climate crisis can make me feel so small, but I also believe it would be selfish not to act and pursue justice, given I am conscious and live with climate privilege. The fossil fuel industry has not only been emitting billions of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, but has been displacing people in the process. Lands and oceans are exploited for a mere profit and people are regarded to be secondary to the economy.
My positionality makes it wrong for me to turn a blind eye, and so I’ve realigned my connections to be a part of a community fighting for the next generation. It’s been rewarding to be surrounded by like minded individuals, who also can’t help but get overwhelmed with the state of the realm. The negativity may brew and take hold of my mental health, but then I think, what if we were to evolve and pursue a better deal? A deal in which the rights of indigenous and marginalized communities were properly upheld, while also transitioning our workers to a 100% renewable sector. Now, wouldn’t that be the dream? Let’s make it a reality.
Rajdeep Kaur Dhaliwal is second generation Canadian. She is currently studying Geography with a concentration on Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia. She is a Vancouver-based organizer with Our Time. Her passions lie in the arts, social justice and health in the Anthropocene.