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Jennifer, Manager of Cities, joined Tamarack in July 2022 in the Community Climate Transitions team.
Why did you choose to embark on Community Climate Transitions?
I have always been interested in community-led action, be it related to advancing gender rights, increasing access to education, protecting the environment or engaging local youth. When I heard about the work done at Tamarack, I jumped on the opportunity.
I strongly believe that the work Tamarack is doing to help communities to develop collaborative strategies that engage citizens and institutions is key to solving the complex problems we are facing today. This includes the climate crisis, which needs to be tackled through collective effort as climate change concerns us all. It is also a multifaceted challenge that will affect us socially, politically and economically.
What are some of the experiences that have shaped your thinking on equity and climate?
I grew up between Paris, France, and the Caribbean (Martinique), so I come from a place of privilege, being born in a free and democratic country where education is free and economic instability is rare.
I started traveling alone when I was 17 and discovered many diverse places and met people who had grown up in vastly different settings. It had a profound impact on my understanding of lived experiences and guided my professional career towards the nonprofit and international development sector.
When it comes to climate, I am a nature-lover and I witnessed firsthand the disappearance of coastal terrains. Some beaches lost half of their length from when I was a child, and the increase in temperature and frequency of natural disasters have had a significant impact on the fauna and flora as well as on islanders. The changing climate has already upended the lives of many in Martinique, which is of course only one of the many places where people’s lives are being disrupted.
I think that climate affects every aspect of the human experience. It is linked to gender rights, racial justice, poverty, access to education and financial freedom, as well as housing and mental and physical health. It is increasingly gaining traction, but the current momentum is still not enough to achieve the transformative change we need.
What qualities are crucial to do this work and make long-term impact?
Tamarack has a thriving community of 40,000 learners across Canada who are passionate and driven about improving their communities. I think determination, patience and curiosity are essential qualities to have for one to do well and enjoy this work.
It is not easy being confronted with the sad reality of the climate emergency on a daily basis, but keeping a positive outlook and focusing on impact – no matter how small – goes a long way.
Having a good sense of humor helps too!
What type of collective future do you envision for our communities?
I envision a just and equitable future in which climate action is an integral part of everyone’s daily life, and where collective actions lead to a healthier, safer and more sustainable future.