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Adrian Werner: Regional Engagement Coordinator, Prairies

Saturday Spotlight Series

· Spotlight Series

Adrian is passionate about environmental and social sustainability. He holds a BSc in Geography from the University of Winnipeg and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Leadership at the University of Guelph. He has run an urban farm, worked on grassroots urban nature awareness initiatives, and researched vegetation change in the sub-arctic. He is also a writer for The Gardener Magazine and a co-author of Rooster Town: The History of an Urban Métis Community, 1901-1961.

Why did you join the climate movement/what pushed you to become interested in climate change issues?

My interest in climate issues has three origins. First, I feel a strong sense of solastalgia, the distress caused by environmental change to a place you love. Over my life, I have watched Lake Winnipeg change. Increased algal blooms, zebra mussels, and fluctuating water levels have shown me what happens when an ecosystem loses its balance. Second, I am passionate about just and sustainable food systems. I was initially inspired by the 100-Mile diet, which I tried in 2011, and have spent years working on food waste reduction and growing local food. Third, I am passionate about social justice, and the shocks created by our climate crisis are disproportionately felt by the most vulnerable members of our community. Therefore, climate change is also a social justice issue. 

What is one achievement you are proud of?

In 2018 the City of Saskatoon featured me as one of the people taking action on climate change as a part of the publicity around their Climate Change Action Plan. The promotion campaign's goal was to feature local people explaining their commitment to climate work in the city. For a few weeks during the promotion period,my face was everywhere, from YouTube advertisements to a giant billboard at a busy intersection. During that time, people would recognize me on the street and sometimes engage in productive dialogue about climate action. I am still thankful for that opportunity to help answer people's questions. By choosing a group of local people to feature, I think they made the process feel more welcoming and approachable than if actors or city officials had been the face of this part of the campaign. It was a great experience. 

What are some climate change initiatives you are currently taking part in?

I am less active in climate work right now than in the past because of my coursework. However, working with Climate Reality Project Canada is an exciting way for me to continue to support the crucial actions people are taking across the Prairies. In addition, I am currently a Wild About Saskatoon steering committee member. They are a grassroots group of Saskatonians who work to celebrate and conserve and improve natural spaces around Saskatoon.

What do you think is the most effective way for people to take climate action?

I think talking to elected officials is very important. By letting your MP, MLA, and City Counselors know what you think and writing to them, calling them, and attending consultations, you demonstrate that their constituents care about issues. I think people are often worried that they don't know enough to discuss a vital climate issue with a politician. But telling your story and explaining the impact on your life can make a vivid impression too. That said, I also think that taking individual action in your home and your community often inspires others to do the same. I believe change happens through a thousand tiny steps all happening at once. 

What is a fun fact about yourself?

I am an avid birdwatcher. It is one of the ways I unwind from busy days and reconnect to nature. My love of the natural world is one of the reasons that I want to work toward a more sustainable future. I think that paying close attention to the world around us is an integral part of celebrating what we have and remembering what we stand to lose.

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