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International Women’s Day: Women and the Environment

By Lynn MacCallum, Environmental Director

Monday March 8th is the 110th anniversary of International Women’s Day, a global day of

recognition that showcases the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

While there are many women who are deserving of recognition on this day, as the

Environmental Director for the CBMCA, I felt it appropriate to focus your attention on the

outstanding efforts and achievements of just a few Canadian women who have dedicated their lives and careers to the preservation of our planet.

Katharine Hayhoe

Climate Scientist and Texas Tech University Professor

You may know Katharine Hayhoe from her 2018 TED talk “The most important thing you can do to fight climate change: talk about it” which to date has had over 4 million views. During this talk, she explains that the key to getting people to believe in climate change is not achieved by peppering people with data and facts, but to have real discussions about shared values, community, and religion. This is arguably what makes Hayhoe such a unique voice in the climate change discussions – a faith-based perspective which seeks to untangle the complex data of climate science and tackle many long-held misconceptions about global warming. She has published 8 books, 125 peer-reviewed papers, writes and produces a short series for PBS called, Global Weirding: Climate, Politics and Religion, and she has heaps of awards and recognition for her efforts, including being named one of FORTUNE’s world’s greatest leaders, and twice named to Foreign Policy’s list of 100 Global Thinkers. This woman is a powerhouse, and one who provides a unique perspective in the climate change discussions taking place today. You can learn more about Katharine Hayhoe and her extraordinary work:

Dr Courtney Howard

Emergency Physician in Yellowknife and Clinical Associate Professor in the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary

Howard’s work with the environment and the health impacts of climate change began after

hearing stories from Indigenous patients in Northern Canada about how the rapidly changing landscape was impacting their food security and physical safety on the land. These connections between planetary and physical health were amplified further during her stint with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières where she worked closely with malnourished children and infants in Djibouti who tragically died under her care. These two events brought into sharp focus the intersections between the environment and health, and her work has been in response to these intersections ever since. For example, she has researched links to post-traumatic stress disorder caused by major climate events (such as that experienced by survivors of forest fires). She has also studied the impacts of eco-anxiety or ecological grief (aka climate grief, which is considered a psychological response to loss caused by environmental destruction or climate change), as well as the interactions between social movements and well-being. Howard has gone on to share her knowledge and experiences with others as one of the first authors on the 2017-2019 Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change Briefings for Canadian Policymakers and was also the first female board President of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE). Howard has channelled her research into policy and advocacy-related work, such as integrating health impact assessments into environmental assessments, arguing for fossil fuel divestment, carbon pricing, and coal phase-out, as well as health impacts of hydraulic fracturing, to name just a few. Howard is a glowing example of what can be done for the health of our species, as well as our planet, when passion meets purpose. Learn more about this extraordinary woman and her work:

Photo credit:

Melina Laboucan-Massim

Program Director at Indigenous Climate Action, the Founder of Sacred Earth Solar and a Fellow at the David Suzuki Foundation

Laboucan-Massimo is Lubicon Cree from Northern Alberta and has worked on social,

environmental and climate justice issues for the past 20 years. As host of the TV series Power to the People, she showcases renewable energy, food security and eco-housing projects in

Indigenous communities across Canada. Laboucan-Massimo has faced firsthand the impacts of the Alberta tar sands in her traditional territory, and her Greenpeace photo essay on YouTube titled 'Oil On Lubicon Land' provides a glimpse of this first-hand experience as it looks at the impacts of resource development in the north and the 2011 pipeline spill which released an estimated 28,000 barrels of crude oil into the wetlands onto Lubicon territory. This event led her to become a vocal advocate for Indigenous rights and environmental justice, channelling her energies as Climate and Energy Campaigner with Greenpeace Canada, as well as working with the Indigenous Environmental Network internationally. She has written for a variety of publications, produced short documentaries on the tar sands, climate change and water issues, and promoted Indigenous cultural revitalization. Today she is the Program Director at Indigenous Climate Action, the founder of Sacred Earth Solar, and a Fellow at the David Suzuki Foundation. She is a force to be reckoned with, and I cannot wait to see what she does with her next 20 years! Learn more about her work and her many awards:

These are just three examples of Canadian women who are leaders in their fields. There are

thousands of women across Canada who are taking a stand for the health and wellbeing of our planet. We can help support these women and ensure they thrive in these positions of

leadership if we practice the following guidelines, as outlined by the Government of Canada’s 2018 Climate Leaders’ Summit titled Women Kicking it on Climate:

  • Advocate for the equal representation of women in decision-making and negotiator roles, and encourage each other to continue to lead on climate action;

  • Promote women’s leadership in businesses and women entrepreneurs, recognizing that equal participation of all genders can increase innovation and drive clean economic growth for all;

  • Adopt solutions to address climate change that recognize the oft disproportionate impacts of climate change on women and other vulnerable communities, particularly Indigenous women, and work to give women equal opportunities to implement solutions for climate change;

  • Support and collaborate with grassroots and Indigenous women whose traditional knowledge make them experts in climate change resilience and leaders in conservation;

  • Foster engagement with young women taking action on climate change and support their innovative thinking; and

  • Build on the growing global recognition that effective climate action requires the active participation of women.

Everyone wins – especially this little blue planet we call home – when we have women in

positions of leadership, when we support women who are fighting for the rights and health of the natural world. If you want to be involved in environmental stewardship or you see

opportunities to make Cliff Bungalow and Mission a little greener, and you just need a little help or access to resources, please join us for our upcoming event Cliff Bungalow-Mission Climate Conversations workshop taking place on Thursday April 29th at 7pm where you can learn to be the next environmental leader in our community. Everyone is welcome!

For more info and to register visit: or

Happy International Women’s day!


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