Lily Barraclough has a lot on her plate: she’s a student, she volunteers with multiple organizations and she’s a program coordinator for iMatter.
Barraclough came to Halifax in 2016 and started her student life in the Foundation Year Programme at the University of King’s College. Now, in her third year of her environmental science, and history of science and technology (HOST) degree, she looks back on bringing iMatter to the city.
iMatter is an organization that focuses on youth empowerment and youth voices to push local community leaders to transition into a more environmentally friendly and sustainable society. Barraclough runs training and workshops for youth leaders on organizing a local movement and climate science. She also helps create local climate action projects in cities across Canada and leads local outreach in schools across the nation.
Barraclough started working with iMatter in 2016, learning of the program through other leaders who were involved in the program. She was trained as a leader in her hometown of Toronto.
She says that she started working with iMatter in Toronto as the first Canadian participant, and wanted to continue working with the organization when she came to Halifax. With the help of other King’s and Dalhousie University students, she was able to get it up and running. The program is still running now, and is always willing to accept new members.
Work to be done in Halifax
“There’s a tool called a youth climate report card which grades cities on the percentage of renewables they have when they are getting to net zero carbon emissions,” says Barraclough of her work with iMatter.
She brought one of these to the Halifax Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee. The report card grades cities based on how well they’re doing in reducing emissions, what percent of renewable energy makes up a cities total energy use, waste reduction, carbon reduction, and youth involvement.
Halifax received an overall grade of a B-
Barraclough also went to the Executive Standing Committee of Halifax city council with a proposal for a Youth Advisory Committee in April 2017; t￼he city did a staff report and approved the committee in December 2017. Barraclough says creating this Youth Advisory Committee is one of her favourite things she’s done, because she got to work with staff to develop the committee, and will begin to recruit people this fall.
And that’s not all: Barraclough has been working with Ecology Action Centre, NSPIRG – which she is a board member of – and other Nova Scotia organizations on the 2030 Declaration.
The 2030 Declaration is a request created by these organizations, asking for the government to commit to 50 per cent reductions of carbon emissions by 2030 and ensure that marginalized communities and environmental racism are considered and worked with.
So far it has been signed by multiple organizations and people including: Divest Dal, Dalhousie Student Union Sustainability Office, and The Dalhousie Black, Indigenous and People of Colour Caucus (BIPOCUS)
Climate change cross-sections
Barraclough’s desire to work towards climate change initiatives stems from seeing the effects of climate change first hand.
“They are pretty scary,” she says. “I have a lot of family in rural eastern Ontario, with the upper limits of ticks having moved into Canada; almost all of the horses on my Nan’s farm and a lot of my family have Lyme disease, which is incurable so I’ve seen that myself.”
She also believes that climate change is related to solving many other social justice issues.
“It doesn’t go over super well to say what a crisis it is, but to me, the climate crisis is one of the most pressing issues,” she says. “Especially because it exemplifies and enhances so many social justice issues as well, and really shows all the injustices in relation to the environment and in relation to access to services and adaptation.”
With all of this weighing on her, Barraclough says balance in her life is key to keeping her afloat even though it can be hard sometimes.
“I try to keep a balance between doing activist work and schoolwork and fun things. I like to schedule my time, so I’ve also scheduled fun activities like music lessons, and chorus, and my friends and I play Dungeons and Dragons, and things like that. As long as I keep a balance between things.”
You can do it too
She says there are many opportunities to get involved in environmental activism on campus.
“The first thing I would suggest is probably to probably educate themselves. There’s a lot of information out there and it can also be super overwhelming, but it depends on what type of person it is.”
Start with small things like books or movies, and then attending events offered on campus or around the city.
Barraclough has been working on a Climate Inheritance Resolution she will be bringing to city council in October. The resolution requests city council to commit to protecting the children and grandchildren of the Halifax community from the risks of climate destruction.
She hopes to one day work more on the law or policy side of climate change issues using her science background to her advantage to inform others.