By: Winona Young, Head Staff Writer
On June 26, a Green New Deal Town Hall was held at SFU Burnaby’s Maggie Benson Centre. The meeting was one of many similar talks across Canada which aims to foster discussion about what Canada’s vision for the environment should look like. The event was co-hosted by Embark Sustainability, Teacher Support Staff Union (TSSU), SFU 350, along with support from SFPIRG.
As noted by SFU 350 member, Skye Noh, in an interview with The Peak, “It really started with a movement down in the States with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, inspired kind of what by [Franklin Delano Roosevelt] did with the New Deal.”
The Green New Deal (GND) is a proposed plan backed by U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and U.S. Senator Ed Markey which describes what Americans must do to combat climate crisis, as well as how the jobs of American people will be protected. Inspired by this, the meeting held at SFU strived to focus on Canadians’ thoughts on how to combat the climate crisis as well.
In an interview with The Peak, SFU 350 co-president, Abby Herd, detailed why the GND is a worthwhile issue to consult students about and is important to the SFU community overall.
“Students are a group that are impacted by climate change … I think it’s really important to consult [students] and especially SFU as well, because we will have a pipeline going right under this university, and we’re situated up on a mountain.”
The event began with a message from Haidee Pangilinam and Ishmam Bhuiyan, members of Dogwood, a grassroots, non-profit, B.C.-based environmental advocacy organization.
Kristen Zickfield, associate professor from SFU’s department of geography, presented on the findings of the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the many changes needed to combat climate crisis. Zickfield highlighted the need for political will and leadership to achieve change.
Following Zickfield, Alicia Massie, TSSU coordinator, delivered her own speech. Massie spoke of the necessity of acting as a collective to incite change.
“We need a movement. We need it yesterday,” she said.
“How we achieve real change is through collective struggle.”
After, the audience was shown a video titled “A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” detailing Ocasio-Cortez’s vision of what a future with the Green New Deal in motion would look like.
Following the video, hosts Abby Herd and Stephannie Yu asked attendees to brainstorm large-scale changes that would help combat the climate crisis (referred to as “Green Lines”) and action that ought to end (referred to as ”Red Lines”).
The attendees then came together in groups to discuss and then present their top two Green and Red Lines. A few ideas included ending fossil fuel subsidies, Indigenizing the conversation around the climate crisis by putting Indigenous people at the forefront of how we deal with crisis, and investing in public transportation.
In the closing statements of the event, attendees were asked to leave their name and email in order if they wanted to keep organizing. More information on future town halls can be found online through Green New Deal Canada’s website.