Karel Mayrand is the President and CEO of the Foundation of Greater Montréal. Before that, he has been for twelve years Director General for Quebec and the Atlantic with the David Suzuki Foundation, and chair of Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project in Canada. He is also Vice-President of the board of Société du Parc Jean-Drapeau. Karel is co-author of Demain, le Québec (Éditions La Presse, 2018), author of Une Voix pour la Terre (Boréal, 2012), co-author of Ne renonçons à rien (Lux, 2017) with the Faut qu’on se parle collective. He frequently contributes columns and op eds for l’Actualité and La Presse.
Why did you join the climate movement/what pushed you to become interested in climate change issues?
In June 2006 I flew to the North Pole, visiting Alert, the Northernmost permanently inhabited place on our planet. I saw the impact of climate change on the polar environment. The irreversible melting of Arctic ice was the first time I realised climate change was not a future threat, but a real danger, one that would impact my life, and that was threatening my children's future. My son and daughter were 18 months old at the time and I felt compelled to do everything in my power to protect them. Within two years I had joined the David Suzuki Foundation and the Climate Reality Project.
What is one achievement you are proud of?
In September 2019, I was part of the team that organized the 500 000 people rally with Greta Thunberg in Montreal. On days like that it is easy to believe human beings can change the word with their collective will.
What was your most iconic/memorable Act of Leadership?
I did over 100 Climate Reality presentations. My first one made me proudest. I also took part in the first 24h of Reality along with Mr. Gore in New York City in 2011. I was proud to be the world's French spokesperson for our movement.
What are some climate change initiatives you are currently taking part in?
The Montreal Climate Partnership
What do you think is the most effective way for people to take climate action?
Stop flying. Drive less and/or drive EVs. Reduce consumption. Be vocal about the climate crisis.
What is a fun fact about yourself?
I don't like clowns. I prefer disco music :-)