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André-Yanne Parent, Executive Director

Saturday Spotlight Series

· Climate Reality Canada Team
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Full Name and Title

André-Yanne Parent, Executive Director 

Short Biography 

Passionate about environmental justice and dedicated to empowering people to lead change in their communities, André-Yanne joined the Climate Reality Project Canada’s team as Executive Director in March 2019. André-Yanne Parent holds a master's degree in anthropology from the University of Montreal. She shares a course lecture, titled “Climate Change & Justice”, as part of the International Cooperation Certificate offered in the Permanent Education Faculty of the University of Montreal. Elected on the board of Mission Inclusion and the Montreal Regional Environmental Council, she was also appointed on the Canadian Commission for UNESCO in Education as well as Montreal’s Women Council. André-Yanne was selected in La Presse's Top 30 Under 30. Between 2015 and 2019, she was the Senior Director of Operations and Philanthropy for Inuit & First Nations Communities at Youth Fusion. Under her leadership, Youth Fusion’s Indigenous Programming received the 2017 edition of the Marcel Côté Award from the Public Policy Forum for its leadership in improving public policies. 

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

Youth! And being consistent with what I was promoting with them. Let me back track a little bit. I was working to empower Indigenous youth to build their self-esteem and confidence, find purpose and stay in school. As the Senior Director of a charity in education, I had the privilege to work with a fantastic team of project coordinators in 23 Indigenous communities, with 7 Nations delivering full-time, yearlong programming in fields as diversified as Artificial intelligence, Video game creation, Healthy living, Fashion Design - you name it! Through experiential learning, our goal was that these youths, working in teams, realise that their voice matters and that they deserve a seat – many seats – at the table. No matter the media used, all the youths were addressing climate change and the urgency to act. For example, they would make a video game in which you would win points by planting trees and win the game if you succeed in negotiating with the companies responsible for deforestation to stop the carnage. It was incredibly inspiring, and deeply connected to the teaching I also received in my education to protect the land. 

What is one achievement you are proud of?

Being a part of the Climate Reality Project's family is definitely one of the achievement I am the most proud of! In particular, witnessing our distributed engagement model that is truly aligned with my values because

1) It is a movement created to empower people to communicate effectively on climate by providing training – education - and act on climate in the way that is the most relevant to their community

2) It is a movement that is made to encourage its members to build meaningful relationships with each other – like we do during the trainings, and even virtually on Reality Hub

3) It is a movement that relies 100% on the people, the Climate Reality Leaders, to make the content our own, and translate it in a culturally relevant way for where we come from!

4) Being part of an organization that is fighting for climate justice, speaks out against systemic racism, and works with our partners to help dismantle systems of white supremacy that perpetuate violence and harm against Black, Indigenous and People of Colour. With the risk of sounding cheesy, witnessing the dedication, commitment, and proactivity that each and every one of the Climate Reality Leaders show in their unique ways, I am amazed by their passion. It is truly inspiring! This worldwide community has empowered me to step up as a climate activist and has helped me encourage others to find their activist fire that deserves to be lighted up! 

What was your most iconic/memorable Act of Leadership?

If I really have to pick one, it would have to be participating in the large coalition that organized the September 27th, 2019 protest in Montreal. I learnt so much from everyone who was involved and developed wonderful friendships in the process. It was uplifting to witness how people - over 500,000! - responded to the coalition's invitation and protested peacefully to demand ambitious climate policies from our elected officials. Being the Master of Ceremony on the third day of the Minneapolis training was quite memorable too... It is so hard to choose! 

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

Our first-ever online training! The Climate Reality Leadership Corps: Global Training 2020, happening July 18th to 26th, has just been officially launched to mobilize and grow the global movement of activists committed to combating the climate crisis. The Leadership Corps training was one of these life-changing experiences for me and, during this moment of physical distancing, I am very excited that more will get this opportunity to join our family of Climate Reality Leaders raising our voices for change. 

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

There are so many ways to take climate action and many forms it can take! Holding the microphone and delivering a powerful speech is one form that we often see, but the people backstage, who translated the speech, who created the design for the invitation, who are doing the soundcheck… They all contribute to making that action effective. Finding a way that suits you and that you are passionate about will make your actions engaging and, de facto, effective. Taking part in local, community-led action also makes it sustainable on a personal level, as we are sharing responsibilities with others while taking climate action, raising local ambition, and building meaningful relationships. The climate crisis requires structural change to be addressed and, to do so, we need to raise Canadians’ awareness on the climate crisis, but also the solutions that we need in our public policies. Giving presentation is a powerful way to raise awareness and also empower people to take (urgent) action. Storytelling is one of the most effective way to connect people with one another, and create more empathy and solidarity. When people share their stories, they are also able to acknowledge that you do not need to be a scientist to talk about the impact of the crisis and you do not need to work full-time for an environmental charity to be a climate activist. 

What is a fun fact about yourself?

I love my neighborhood and I am on a not-so-secret mission to bring everyone here, at least once, to discover how fantastic our community is! Let me know if you are in the South West of Montreal!