Youth Climate Corps in BC

Young people are at the centre of a set of interlocking crises:
  • Global carbon emissions continue to rise, now approaching levels scientists say will be incompatible with civilization as we know it.
  • Ineffective political leadership appears captured by its allegiance to the status quo. Politicians are still putting off meaningful action for the future.
  • Young people are experiencing more anxiety about the future, higher rates of depression and suicide, and protecting themselves at the nervous system level by distraction and disassociation.

We live in a dynamic and uncertain time. The pandemic has dramatically changed the workforce and job prospects for young people, and the effects of a destabilizing climate threaten our future. In these times of disruption, we also have opportunities to change our systems and build a more sustainable, just, and brighter future.

Youth are more concerned about their futures than ever. A recent study found that 75% of young people say their future is frightening, and 65% say the government has failed them. We cannot blame young people for feeling scared about their future. What we can do is, give them power and the means to make meaningful changes.

The youth climate movement has been influential to the point that protests grouping thousands of youth happened across Canada. We cannot stand by and expect activists and youth volunteers to solve the climate crisis. They have drawn our attention to the urgency of the climate crisis; we need to pay youth to develop and implement climate solutions in their communities.

Furthermore, climate change exacerbates pre-existing inequalities in under-resourced, exploited, and marginalized communities. Those communities are more likely to feel the consequences of climate change sooner and more severely. Youth Climate Corps operates from the understanding that climate solutions are only viable if they lift everyone up. We see climate change as the direct result of unethical resource extraction made possible by the removal of Indigenous People from their ancestral homelands. Indigenous Sovereignty is central to just futures and liveable worlds, which is why Youth Climate Corps is keenly focused on redirecting resources toward grassroots Land Back projects. The crew on the North Island is managed, coordinated, and ran by an all-Indigenous crew, and we are looking to specifically hire a BIPOC manager and coordinator for the Vancouver crew.

A tremendous amount of work is needed to prepare Canadian communities for climate-resilient futures and adapt to climate change as quickly as possible. Today's young people need meaningful jobs to earn living wages and gain skills, connections and experience while making a difference. Canada must launch a provincial and a national Youth Climate Corps to bridge these needs.


Youth Climate Corps provides two main services to the public:
  • Job training, skills readiness, meaningful employment for youth
  • Community climate action

Youth Climate Corps is currently operated in communities in the Columbia Basin and has shown that it is a highly beneficial program to local youth and communities. This success is proof that we need to make Youth Climate Corps accessible to communities and youth across Canada to secure a fair, just, and sustainable future by providing paid work and training to complete projects that help communities adapt to the climate crisis and reduce emissions. Youth Climate Corps focuses on youth employment, skills training and climate change solutions at the community level.

Hope flows from action, not the other way around.

We have shown that YCC works. As the pandemic extinguished jobs in the summer of 2020, a grassroots group of community members around Nelson, B.C., envisioned a climate-focused youth employment program hosted by Wildsight, a local non-governmental organization with deep regional roots. Fourteen crew members under 30 spent four months protecting the city's water pipeline from wildfire, boosting local food security, restoring riparian ecosystems, enhancing energy efficiency, and engaging community members and local leaders.


By becoming involved in projects across the country, rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty in their communities, youth climate leaders will inspire their fellow Canadians to make meaningful changes and demand more comprehensive political action on the Climate Crisis we face.


By working on retrofitting homes for energy efficiency, Helping relocalize forms of regenerative agriculture, and enhancing the health and safety of our fire-threatened forests, young people build capacities that lead to further engagement and agency.


The Youth Climate Corps provides a new vision of active youth engagement and a road map that provides meaningful solutions to the crisis that young people face and that impacts us all.

By connecting communities, youth employment and skills building with the project work that is needed on the ground to lower emissions and increase resilience, young people build the leadership capacities that Canada urgently needs.

Urgency

Youth Climate Corps needs your support to continue operating and evolving. At the present moment, Youth Climate Corps is still a start-up and needs support to go to the next level and develop its first project in an urban area, Vancouver. The need for funds and sharing about the project is crucial for the next generation.


Youth Climate Corps Importance to Communities

Much of the burden of adapting to climate change and reducing emissions is left to municipalities and communities. YCC works with local governments, industry, Indigenous people, and organizations to develop and enact climate solutions that are meaningful and prioritized by the community.

Communities are on the front lines of climate change, and the effects have devastating impacts on communities and people. The CleanBC Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy for 2021 -2022 stated that "insured losses for catastrophic weather events totalled over $18 billion between 2010 and 2019, and the number of catastrophic events was over three times higher than in the 1980s." These losses and costs will only increase as the climate continues to heat. However, every dollar in investments in preparing for climate change will pay back $2 to $10 in savings in the future. Youth Climate Corps is not just an investment in the next generation but a much-needed and robust investment in our communities.

The importance and benefits of the Youth Climate Corps have been seen by community leaders, including the City of Nelson, which awarded Youth Climate Corps its annual Sustainability Leadership Award. Mayor John Dooley commented, "Youth Climate Corps is a promising model for empowering youth in communities to take action for our global future."

Benefits to Youth

Youth Climate Corps is a unique blend of job training, community service, and environmental practice. The youth participants gain skills, make connections, build a sense of place in their community, and do meaningful work to combat the climate crisis.

Since the inaugural 2020 Youth Climate Corps, alumni have become leaders in their communities and continued building sustainable communities. Such as working for the regional district as a climate policy intern, leading a local youth climate activist organization, and working for non-profits. Alumni Melissa recently commented, "I'm in Kamloops working at the Naturalist Club doing lots of different things – grant writing, statistical analysis, writing a podcast script about local sustainability; I'll also be doing bookkeeping in the new year! We will probably also be running the youth program Team Nature Kamloops again next summer. I think my YCC experience was a big part of why I got hired for this role! I'm really enjoying it."

Over the program, the participants connect with local leaders and their communities. Alumni Kate Watt reflected that "Like never before, I want to be part of and serve my community, and I hope that others across the province can benefit from the same opportunity I've had."

We have seen the tremendous impact that Youth Climate Corps has had on the participants, and like Kate, we believe that these opportunities should be accessible to youth across the country.

Youth Climate Corps Across BC

We have seen the tremendous benefits of Youth Climate Corps to communities and youth. We want to see young people across BC working to combat the climate crisis and adapt to communities. We also visualize, in a near future, Youth Climate Corps at a national level. We believe that Canada needs a bold Youth Climate Corps . This vision cannot be done alone, but you can help.

We need to tell the provincial and federal governments that we need a national Youth Climate Corps to build a fair and sustainable future. We also need support to continue to work with communities and governments to advocate for and design a national Youth Climate Corps .



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Organizer

Eymie Labbe 
Organizer
Nelson, BC

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