On November 30, 2020, two Selkirk High School students participated in the “Planning Resilient Communities and Adapting Rural Health Services in British Columbia Virtual Symposium,” facilitated by the Rural Health Services Research Network of BC. Holly Gale and Ciara Robinson spoke at the event as members of the Kimberley Youth Action Network (KYAN) Environmental Action Team. The virtual session – Amplifying Youth Voices for Climate Justice – was a part of a series of virtual events that discussed how environmental changes are impacting human health, with natural hazards disproportionately impacting rural populations.
Presenter Holly Gale explained her passion for climate change action. “I first became passionate about climate change when I saw youth my age-fighting for climate justice. I then started learning about climate change and realized the severity of it. After I joined the Environmental Action Team, I was invited to speak at this symposium. Being a youth panellist in this symposium was an amazing opportunity. I can’t stress enough how important it is for youth like myself to be included in these types of discussions. This was a great experience and I would like to thank KYAN’s Environmental Action Team as I would not have been able to participate in this event without them.”
Ciara Robinson was also thrilled to participate. “Participating in this symposium was an amazing opportunity and I feel so privileged to have been a part of it. I was able to see people a bit older than me speak about how they’d like to see change within the way climate change is spoken about. One of the most inspiring aspects was watching young indigenous women speak about indigenous voice in climate policy. I feel more empowered to speak out about climate activism and to look for positive solutions to guarantee a future for myself.”
Lori Joe, KYAN Youth Coordinator discussed the importance of exploring climate change through a rural lens and that it is imperative that youth voices be heard and included in the discussion. “All the decisions we have made and will make have significant ramifications to the health of humans, animals and ecosystems, especially for our future generations. Symposiums such as this provide rural communities who are experiencing more wildfires and ecosystems disruption with an opportunity to collaborate with indigenous communities, doctors, government and youth to create political pathways that discuss and research climate mitigation, adaptation and resiliency.
A recording of the youth session and all other symposium sessions is available here: https://rhsrnbc.med.ubc.ca/opportunities-events/internal-opportunities/. KYAN’s Environmental Action Team is made up of local youth who come together in a safe space to collaborate with one another to share ideas, and encourage partnerships, opportunities and solutions that help protect our planet. KYAN supported by the Basin Youth Network of Columbia Basin Trust. It is a youth-led network which prides itself on allowing youth to find their passion and become visionary leaders in their home community and beyond. For more information on KYAN and the Environmental Youth Action Team, contact Youth Coordinator, Lori Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org.