Intersectional Environmentalism & Building Community: QBACC's Vision & Actions 2016-2017

Hi eco-friends and folks,

My name is Diana Yoon and I am a fourth-year Geography and Environmental Studies student at Queen's University.

I am also currently the 2016-2017 Chair of Queen's Backing Action on Climate Change (QBACC). We are one of the leading environmental campus clubs at Queen's University - and the only group with an emphasis on environmental activism, advocacy, and action.

In October, when I wrote an op-ed in the Queen's Journal: "Sustainability is more than a week-long commitment", I wanted to see a year of ambitious environmental actions across campus. Instead, we got a year where the Alma Mater Society (AMS) dismantled the Commission of Environmental Affairs (CEA) and where Queen's University still has not announced the start of the Climate Action Plan (CAP) implementation committee a year after the initial CAP targets were published.

However, I am so proud of the work that we have done this year, as QBACC and the wider campus sustainability community, when oftentimes the campus felt apathetic or even opposed to improving our environmental impact. We've worked twice as hard to make up for the student and university administrations that fail to prioritize campus sustainability.

So, we took a different approach to QBACC this year. Our team this year wanted to see a QBACC and a Queen's community that was better informed of the intersectionality of environmentalism. We wanted to support environmental justice in the best ways that we could. We started doing land acknowledgments, we held a Feast Night at the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, we partnered with Queen's Native Students Association (QNSA) to organize a bus to Toronto for the Standing Rock Solidarity march.

holding signs for the Standing Rock Solidarity march in Toronto

This winter term, we have been working on the Next Steps Charity Gala for Environmental Human Rights to raise awareness and fundraise for indigenous communities most heavily impacted by the detrimental consequences of resource extraction and environmental destruction.

"The purpose of this year’s gala is to raise awareness for the environment and how we are treating it. How we treat the environment affects all of us but even so, time and time again, the needs of our Earth is neglected for economic gain. Unfortunately, these actions disproportionately impact Indigenous communities and they are the ones who are on the front lines of these issues, protecting our environment. Our gala hopes to open a dialogue that we all belong to this Earth and that non-Indigenous and Indigenous communities should work along side of each other to protect the environment. Tickets are $12 and can be found on the tilt link. The gala will include a keynote speaker, MJ Lapointe, and a panel discussion from Dr.Marcus Taylor, Dr.James Kelly, Dr.Noel McDermott, and Alexandra Pedersen! We are hoping to provide answers on what people can do to be more eco-conscious and the next steps forward to create a more environmentally friendly, social discourse."

So I'll conclude with a couple of thoughts:

  1. We, as the Queen's community, can be better. By starting to make connections and taking a more intersectional approach to environmentalism, we have learned so much and are leading the way to a more equitable, sustainable future. The student body at Queen's has so many resources and so much potential - it has been an absolute pleasure to be able to work on initiatives like this Charity Gala.

  2. "Progress is only possible with more student environmental leadership. Whether you join a club or start a brand new initiative, we need more students who are willing and excited about climate action — especially ones with fresh ideas to rejuvenate some life into our student environmental movement." (quoting myself from the Journal Article). Please apply to QBACC or the Earth Centre or Oxfam or any of the other amazing environmental clubs on campus. We need strong student leadership in various different groups and faculties so that we can all work together for an ambitious plan to improve campus sustainability.

I want to thank my QBACC team this year. Sean, Jacob, Erik, Dana, Nick, Kelsey, Victoria, Claire, Sam, Sari, Mikayla - I am so grateful for the work and passion you've put into environmentalism this year, the optimism you have to push for positive change on this campus and beyond. This year, I have grown and learned so much with QBACC. It was such a fantastic decision to expand this incredible team. I cannot wait to see the excellent game-changing work y'all will do next year and the year after.

And for the rest of y'all reading, thank you for taking the time to read our very first QBACC blog post (and most likely my only post on this blog!). Up next, you can expect to read about responsible investment, divestment, and new QBACC leadership!

In love, optimism, and solidarity,

Diana Yoon | Chair 2016-2017


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