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What I learned from Community Climate Action-St. James Town

by Cara Yu, Summer Intern

We asked our summer intern Cara Yu to reflect on her experience with CCA-SJT and what she will take with her as she moves forward:

I was inspired to work with RSI on the CCA project to better prepare my community and adapt to the changing climate. Climate change has always seemed like something distant in the future. But now there are too many climate-related emergencies close to home. I look for what I can do that’s within my control.

I worry about the racial and economic disparities of climate change. In times of crisis, the most vulnerable often suffer the most. I think about lower income groups and people of colour who are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change being left behind.

I see the direct impact that this economic disparity has in my own community, with increasing use of food banks and more food insecurity; nearly a fifth of Torontonians are now food insecure. It evokes the stories parents told me of their experiences when they first immigrated to Canada. 

St. James Town is sometimes referred to as Toronto’s “forgotten block.”  I thinking the community has been neglected and does not always receive the support it deserves. It’s the most culturally diverse community in Toronto, with immigrants from across the globe. This is actually an advantage because many residents come from countries that have been experiencing and adapting to the severe impacts of climate change for many years. So others can learn from St. James Town residents. 

We work together. I started a community garden, where students teach each other how to grow their own food sustainably and they gain vital hands-on experience working with local food banks and community fridges to help distribute food locally. The project encourages residents to create solutions and connects them to key stakeholders. Collaboration empowers residents — as a team we can address climate change.

Soon I am going to study at Harvard — I have already learned so much from CCA-SJT project. I plan to join other projects that address the climate challenge. I’m excited to meet students from across the globe and share my experience and listen to their stories too. 

I think I’m part of a movement. More and more young climate activists are taking whatever action they can to combat climate change. Behind the loud voices and brave faces we carry, climate anxiety lurks. I have learned that being aware is a start; now, young people are persuading others that climate change matters; we all need to work together to ensure our future.

The entire Community Climate Action team thanks you for joining us this summer, Cara. We wish you the best of luck as you move onward and upward!