Being a climate justice activist presents hurdles on the micro and macro levels every day. The effects of a changing climate are becoming more devastating and common, while government policies rarely reflect the science that guides us towards a livable future where the global average temperature rise stays below 1.5C. It also, however, presents incredible opportunities to grow closer as a community and work together to create a safe, healthy and livable world for everyone.
Following the 2021 federal election, 2022 presented Canadians with choices to make in local and provincial contexts. ClimateFast’s actions last year reflect these municipal and Ontario based challenges, and efforts to engage citizens from all ends of the political spectrum to bring climate to the forefront when filling out their ballot. While the first six months provided disappointing results, the following six showed the power of community organizing, with new, progressive councillors elected to the City of Toronto council and broad-based pushback on Bill 23 and Bill 39.
We have to look backward to look six generations ahead. Below is a short list of ClimateFast’s 2022 Actions. We reflect, evaluate and reorganize our efforts to be more effective in 2023. If you’re motivated, please join us, we’d love to have you on our team.
In January, ClimateFast once again put on a Municipal Climate Budget Deputation Workshop. It featured presentations from then Councillor Mike Layton and Toronto Environmental Alliance’s Kathryn Tait. ClimateFast also engaged new volunteers in a Letter Writing Bee, focusing on Highway 413.
In February and March, ClimateFast’s Kitchen Table Climate Conversation Initiative (KTCC), headed by Colleen Lynch, held two workshops and a support meeting that aimed to train facilitators on how to talk about climate issues in their neighbourhood groups, and focused on Ontario based issues and solutions. ClimateFast also continued to increase their anti-oppression work and knowledge by participating in a workshop held by the Climate Justice Hub.
April drew closer to the Ontario election, and ClimateFast, along with the KTCC, GreenPAC, Ontario Voters Coalition and the Not One Seat initiatives launched a campaign to increase volunteers to support and strategize their efforts to encourage citizens to elect climate-progressive Members of Provincial Parliament.
In May, ClimateFast was included in two major rallies, one in support of the Ontario Federation of Labour and one organized by ClimateVoice. These efforts, along with the Ontario Climate Emergency Campaign, aimed to bring together climate, labour and justice organizations to present a united front in the following month’s election.
On June 2nd, 2022 a record low number of people voted, with only 43.53% of those eligible casting a ballot. Despite the low turnout, this did not disengage climate activists in Ontario. Instead, it forced them to re-evaluate their strategies and double down on their efforts to continue pushing back at politicians and policies that would slow decarbonization efforts and destroy biodiversity. Shortly after the election, ClimateFast co-hosted a workshop on how to respond to the Federal Climate Adaptation Strategy.
ClimateFast volunteer Ray Nakano engaged individuals to tell CBC to tell the truth about the climate crisis by launching a letter-writing campaign that is still ongoing. ClimateFast continued to support justice based groups by endorsing the Migrant Rights Rally on September 18th and by supporting the youth who led September 23rd’s Friday’s for Future Global Strike. Volunteers engaged in a Harvest Walk along the proposed route for Highway 413 and participated in a Light Up Toronto cycling event that aimed to support and protect bike lanes in the city.
In November, the Eco-Fair returned to being an in-person event and gave ClimateFast volunteers the opportunity to catch-up, share a host of materials with individuals, prompt people to write postcards and to sign a whiteboard with what they’d like to tell the Federal government.
A COP 27 Global Day of Action rally in Toronto brought together Egyptian and Pakistani speakers, along with climate organizations to discuss human-rights issues, climate change’s direct impacts and to urge politicians to support and contribute to the Loss and Damage Fund. As COP27 drew to a close, ClimateFast held a candle-lit vigil, with music, youth speakers, poetry and a call to action.
As 2022 drew to a close, the year’s biggest coalition of groups came together to oppose Bill 23 and create a human green belt around Queen’s Park.
In December, ClimateFast volunteers gathered to reflect on ten years as an organization, sharing memories, poetry and food.
With seven years left in this crucial decade to follow through on Canada’s target emission reduction by 40-45% by 2030, much work still needs to be done.
ClimateFast is already very engaged in the 2023 Toronto City budget process, with new progressive councillors on board, and in an advertising strategy to refute Pathway Alliance’s “Let’s Clear the Air Campaign”. Once again, if you want to get involved, we’d love to have you join our team.