What can you tell us about you? Can you present yourself?
My name is Meesha Wittkopf (she/her). I am a non-Indigenous young adult who works, plays and lives on the traditional territory of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation, otherwise known as Marsh Lake, Yukon Territory. I am a rural and remote communities advocate and seek to make change through grass-roots and community-based initiatives.
Why did you join the climate movement/what made you interested in climate change issues?
I joined the climate movement because climate change impacts other wicked problems like food security, housing, culture, conservation, etc. Especially in the North, rural and remote communities are adversely impacted by climate change. For example, permafrost thaw can damage roads that communities rely on for transportation (particularly for access to health care, food, and other needs). If the single road that leads to their community is damaged, they become more isolated and are put under a state of emergency. I believe mitigating our reactionary methods of support by mitigating climate change, planning ahead, and supporting localized systems (like food paradigms) and community and First Nation sovereignty are key to resiliency in the North, particularly in response to the climate crisis.
What accomplishment are you proud of?
I am proud of initiating the Beaver Creek Food Sovereignty Project, where I worked with White River First Nation to acquire over $120,000 of funding to upgrade a greenhouse and build a community-friendly gardening space. There I worked with volunteers and built 15 garden boxes, grew food for the community, and mentored youth ages 10-16 in the community to learn to grow food, work with each other, and take care of the site. This work gained a lot of support from other communities, decision makers and funders, while advocating the need to support food sovereignty in rural and remote communities in the Yukon.
What climate change initiatives are you currently involved in?
I am currently working on a few projects, but one exciting initiative is the Youth Coalition 4 Food Security. I am the founder and chair of the Youth Coalition 4 Food Security (YC4FS), a youth-led advisory committee that seeks to build a larger network of youth (35 and under) across Northern Canada to engage, support, and educate each other on northern food initiatives.
What do you think is the most effective way for people to take action for the climate?
Seek out and/or start initiatives that are specific to your region or community - and that you are passionate about! It is easy to get overwhelmed with the multitude of "problems" that our communities face. Find one or two that you would like to learn about, and talk to others about it. See what is happening already, or build a group of partners and mentors that support you in solving the problem you have identified. Remember to keep it focused on your community, and go from there!
What is a fun fact about you?
I have attended UNFCCC COP 27 and have auditioned for Disney—both experiences provided clarity of where I belong in the world in regards to my work.
*I speak English and Spanish, and a little bit of French and Hungarian. I am learning to play the fiddle.