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2020 YEAR IN REVIEW

OUR MISSION: Our mission is to turn passionate outdoor people into effective climate advocates. Protect Our Winters Canada is a passionate community of enthusiasts, professional athletes and industry brands uniting the outdoor community to address climate change. We believe our love of adventure in nature demands our participation in the fight to save and protect it. 

OUR VISION: For our communities and outdoor playgrounds to be healthy, safe, and resilient to a changing climate, we envision a future where we’ve transformed our economy and energy systems and cut our carbon emissions in-line with science-based targets the world agreed to in the Paris Climate Agreement.

GROWTH & CAPACITY BUILDING: Despite the social gathering restrictions (limiting events and activations) as well as financial hardships presented in 2020, we increased our membership (32%), social media audience (%27), volunteer base (34%), support from individual donors (48%) and size of our partner network (+7) which will ultimately supercharge our work in 2021. 

POLICY ADVOCACY: In collaboration with our partners at Pembina Institute (Canada’s leading climate policy think-tank), we advocated for a Green & Just Recovery through our #NewPath campaign which elevated Pembina’s Green Stimulus Report. Over the course of 4 days, POW members sent over 11,000 emails to elected officials tasked with creating Canada’s post COVID stimulus plan. This massive effort resulted in POW Canada’s executive director being invited to participate in the Federal Government’s Roundtable for a Green Recovery which informed the governments recovery strategy and ultimately shaped their new net-zero framework. Most importantly, it pushed POW Canada’s mission and vision front and centre with national policy makers which created channels and relationships for further advocacy.

CAMPAIGNS: We had three major climate policy wins in 2020 as a result of the development and execution of the following campaigns: #RejectTeck, #NewPath and #DeclineTheMine. All campaigns achieved their desired outcome, but the success of our #NewPath campaign (advocating for a green recovery) gained national attention and resulted in POW Canada being invited to participate in the Federal Government's Roundtable for a Green Recovery. Ultimately 5 of our 6 policy asks were incorporated into the government's strategy.

#REJECTTECK OVERVIEW: POW Canada was part of a strategic coalition of NGOs uniting to block Teck Resources proposed the Frontier Mine, which would have been the largest tar sands project in the world. Luckily 31,928 Canadians engaged in climate ac it tion by signing petitions including 4341 POW Canada members (engagement rate of 40%) who sent emails to politicians eventually leading to the abandonment of this project. Each email stopped 1382 tons of CO 2 per year from going into the atmosphere which is equivalent to stopping the emissions of an average Canadian for their entire lifetime of 82 years.

#DECLINETHEMINE OVERVIEW: Coalspur’s Vista Mine, was planning for a massive expansion that would have put Canada well out of reach of the Paris Climate Agreement. Coalspur was using evasive tactics to avoid an environmental assessment which was called out by our ally Ecojustice. POW stepped in and built a social advocacy campaign resulting in 4318 engaged POW Canada members (engagement rate of 40%) writing letters/emails to the Alberta and Canadian governments demanding Coalspur Vista Mines face an environmental assessment which was ultimately mandated.  Each one of POW Canada member letters helped ensure 7,642 tons of CO 2 remain in the ground. That is equivalent to a full Boeing 747 flying 17 round trip transatlantic flights.

#PRESEASONSTOKE OVERVIEW: 2021 was a heavy year in many respects and our #preseasonstoke campaign was designed to give outdoor enthusiasts something positive to focus on and engage with. In October, enthusiasts were asked to put on their seasonal best including their gear (from helmets to boots/skis), head outside and capture their excitement with a video or photo. The content was then shared on Instagram and participants then challenged friends to do the same. We had 421 entries with a hashtag reach of over 2.8 million .  Stay tuned for another addition of #preseasonstoke in fall 2021.

RESEARCH: In October we released Losing Our Cool: The Future of Snowsports in a Warmer World which was an extensive research project led by POW Canada researchers Natalie Knowles and Brooklyn Rushton in collaboration with the Interdisciplinary Centre for Climate Change at the University of Waterloo.  The report looked back at the conditions experienced in the 1960’s when Nancy Greene won her gold medal and contrasted them to 2010 when POW ambassador Ashleigh McIvor won her gold medal during the Vancouver Olympic Games.. Using the latest in climate modelling technology the report predicts how snowsports across Canada will be impacted by 2050 and 2080 on our current path. Psssst……..it’s not good. 

REGIONAL CHAPTERS: Thanks to the hard work of Izzy Lynch and engagement organizing guru Matt Price, 2020 was also a year to solidify our framework and strategy for our regional chapter program. We now have 11 chapters across Canada, led by trained and committed volunteers using the principles of engagement organizing. These grassroots chapters are trained, resourced and ready to unleash climate campaigns locally/regionally. On January 4, Emilie Grenier will join the POW Canada team as Community Engagement Coordinator to lead our grassroots chapter strategy and supercharge them for effective organizing around campaigns and events. 

HOT PLANET COOL ATHLETES: COVID provided the opportunity to re-deploy Hot Planet Cool Athletes in a digitized format for widespread reach and engagement. Specifically we created 4 new elements in our HPCA Toolkit in partnership with the Interdisciplinary Centre for Climate Change at the University of Waterloo: 

#1. New interactive website 

#2. Plug and play video presentation with option for virtual athlete host 

#3. New Illuminate video game 

#4. The Climate Educator’s Resource Portal (first of its kind in Canada) with searchable, curriculum based material to aid in climate education.     

PROGRAMS: Growing our membership base continues to be a priority for POW Canada. To support this objective we created two new programs: Resort Program and Retailer Program. The resort program is best described as a creative marketing opportunity for resorts to see how far they can push POW’s message for climate action with members and guests. Several of Canada’s largest resorts have joined as founding members (Mont Tremblant and Blue Mountain) and interest is strong from across the country. Knowing everyone who steps into an outdoor retailer is a potential climate advocate, the Retail Program introduces POW Canada’s mission and vision through instore signage and displays with a call to action to join the movement. 

TRAINING & EDUCATION: There were a lot of firsts in 2020 and creating a virtual training and leadership summit for our athletes and partners was one of them. Although it’s hard to replicate the impact, experience and knowledge sharing of a 3 day, 2 night in-person retreat, the virtual session provided other unique opportunities.  With the virtual format, not only was the need to travel eliminated but participants were able to join for specific sessions over the day based on what their schedule permitted, resulting in over 70 people participating throughout the day. Sessions included: the POWer of Social Movements with Harvard Professor Naomi Oreskes, Unravelling Your Unconscious Bias with DEI consultant Amil Reddy and Passion Into Purpose with POW Board Chair Mike Douglas.

DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION: POW Canada’s mission is to unite and organize the outdoor community to take action against climate change. When we say the outdoor community, we mean mobilizing EVERYONE who appreciates and enjoys the outdoors regardless of gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, age, neurodiversity, disability, status, citizenship, or any other aspect which makes them unique. To date, our story has lacked representation of many communities. We recognize that diversity and equity in the outdoor space are integral to solving climate change. The more opportunities that are available for participation in the outdoors for ALL, the more chances we have at protecting it. We have created a robust and practical DEI Action Plan with targets that will lead to meaningful change. You can find our full DEI Action Plan at www.protectourwinters.ca/everyone

 

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BIG WIN FOR POW & ALLIES

When the leadership team from our Montreal chapter first tabled the idea of building a campaign around the proposed GNL pipeline, we weren't sure it was a winnable fight.

POW Canada members stepped up big time and used our Enthusiast to Advocate Tool to petition the National Assembly of Québec to shutdown the mega energy project.

The BAPE (Quebec's environmental review board) says the benefits of a multi-billion-dollar liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in the Saguenay do not outweigh the environmental and social costs associated with it.  The report goes on to state that the highly polarizing GNL Québec project has garnered the greatest response of any BAPE review, with more than 2,500 briefs presented at last year's hearings. 

We are still awaiting the final say from Québec's provincial government on whether this project will go through, but suffice to say that there is no social acceptability. Stay tuned!

David Erb, POW Canada's Executive Director says "This just demonstrates there's POWer in Numbers and our voice, when applied strategically and collectively can have real impact on climate action";.

READ THE CBC ARTICLE


MAY CLIMATE CHALLENGE- PLANT A SEED OF CHANGE

When you grow your own food, you drastically reduce the distance it has to travel to get to your table! You also avoid potentially environmentally destructive farming practices, and rely less on an industry that wastes around half of all the food it produces. Remember, the challenge this month is not to grow 100% of all the food you eat, it is to expand your horizons a little bit and grow a little more than you used to. For those that have never grown anything, that's a single plant. For those that already have a garden, it could be an expansion of what you already have! Growing your own food goes hand in hand with composting, and both can be done in almost any living space! That's why both are a part of May’s challenge.

Everyone should compost and here is why! First off, organic compostable waste makes up approximately 40% of the average Canadian household's garbage. If this waste is composted instead of buried in a landfill it will provide many benefits, some notables include:

  1. Less material to transport to waste management facilities - an emissions savings as well as a cost savings for communities. Also if everyone composted landfills would have ~40% more space to use!
  2. "Preventing compostable material from breaking down in a landfill where it releases strong greenhouse gasses like methane.
  3. Soil is a very valuable (and diminishing) resource, composting organic waste essentially produces rich and nutritious soil (which is great for gardening!), while landfilling it wastes or contaminates it.

For those that know nothing about composting it can seem daunting, but do not fear! It is relatively easy to get started, requires very little work after the initial setup, and can be done in almost any living arrangement - house or apartment, rural or urban! Check out these guides to learn how to get started:

  1. Composting Guide by Eartheasy
  2. Vermicomposting Guide by Rodale
  3. Bokashi Composting Guide (Ideal for small spaces/ no yard!) 
  4. Electric Composting -check out the Lomi, and these other countertop composter options

Check out these guides to get started on growing your own food:

  1. Apartment Growing Guide
  2. Growing Without a Yard
  3. Gardening Tips by the David Suzuki Foundation
  4. Growing Sprouts by the Spruce

For those of you who just cannot spare the time to grow something on your own, no worries! You can still get locally grown vegetables from your local farmer’s market or in the form of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box. Essentially this is a partnership between the farming and the consumer that allows farmers to secure money while providing consumers a predetermined amount of farm fresh produce. Generally you must pick it up from the farm, so it also offers a great opportunity for you to ask questions and learn a little more about where your food comes and what practices they are using! Check out the link for more information on how to find farmers that provided CSA boxes, and if that fails, head out to your local farmer’s market and ask some of the growers there.

Never forget that every action in the right direction is progress, so let's grow together in tackling climate change! Get them veggies!


BIG BAD BANKS

In the 5 years since the Paris Agreement, the world’s 60 biggest banks have financed fossil fuels to the tune of $3.8 trillion and Canada's 5 big banks (TD, RBC, BMO, Bank of Novia Scotia and CIBC) are among the worst. Rather than banking on fossil fuels and climate chaos, we think Canada's big banks should #BankOnNature. 

We're putting the finishing touches on a MASSIVE finance and divestment campaign that will build awareness and provide opportunities and tools to take action! In the meantime, listen to this podcast to brush-up on the basics on how the banks use YOUR money to fund climate change.

DIVESTMENT PODCAST


RING OF FIRE

Get this………..Ontario Premier Doug Ford is pushing forward with plans for a proposed mining belt in Northern Ontario called the Ring of Fire, which, from an emissions standpoint, would be equivalent to the Alberta Tar Sands. Crazy right?!?!!? Currently, the area is covered with peatlands which serve as one of the worlds biggest refrigerators. Globally peatlands trap 0.37 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year – storing more carbon than all other vegetation types in the world combined! Who loves Peat! The problem is when peatlands warm, they release that trapped CO2 in the form of methane. This mega project risks converting 35 billion tonnes of cooling, CO2-storing peat into a greenhouse gas emitter, spewing forth some of the most dangerous vapours — methane.

We'll keep our eyes peeled for opportunities to bring POW's voice to the table with other allies. Currently, the federal environment minister, Jonathan Wilkinson, has agreed to conduct a regional assessment on the Ring of Fire s to consider potential adverse effects on climate change, fisheries and endangered species as well as a high likelihood of impacts on the rights of Indigenous people. Stay tuned.


WE’RE HIRING (X2): STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP DIRECTOR & PROGRAM DIRECTOR

Are you interested in turning your passion for the outdoors into climate action! We're hiring for two key positions within our growing organization.

 

 

Strategic Partnerships Director

Location: Remote within Canada

ROLE DESCRIPTION: The Strategic Partnerships Director is responsible for cultivating, securing, onboarding and delivering major partnerships ($10,000+) that align with and further our mission and vision of turning outdoor people into effective climate advocates. In addition, the Strategic Partnerships Director will support partner-led campaigns and activations (e.g., emails, social, in-person events and product collaborations) that fully leverage partner capacity. This person will create strategies for existing and prospective brand partners, and work closely with the Executive Director and Program Director, to move prospects and partners along the continuum of giving to achieve annual financial, marketing, communications, and brand goals. 

Key responsibilities include the support of POW Canada’s strategic plan, team outcomes, and identification of partners that can have an impact on POW Canada’s aim to meet its objectives related to systemic solutions to climate change. The Strategic Partnerships Director will represent the organization at all levels, both internally and externally, with prospects and partners capable of supporting POW Canada’s mission through contributions, marketing/communications support, and in-kind services/goods. 

CLICK HERE FOR JOB DESCRIPTION & TO APPLY

 

 

Programs Director, 12 Month Contract (Paternity Leave)

Location: Remote within Canada

ROLE DESCRIPTION: The Program Director is responsible for developing and delivering exceptional programming that’s aligned with our mission and vision of turning outdoor people into effective climate advocates.  The Program Director will strengthen and enhance existing programs while  innovating new programs to ensure maximum engagement and impact from prospective audience contributing to the overall growth and success of our movement.

The Program Director will help develop the programming priorities of the organization, lead the overall planning and execution of programs including communication strategies, training and relationship management to keep this all on track.

CLICK HERE FOR JOB DESCRIPTION & TO APPLY

 


APRIL CLIMATE CHALLENGE- SAY NO TO SINGLE USE PLASTIC

Plastic use and waste is a looming problem for humans, the planet and climate change. Plastics are incredibly useful, but come at a high environmental cost; they damage and contaminate food chains, and take a very long time to break down in nature. The carbon footprint of the plastic industry, and plastics in general is massive. Almost every piece of plastic that exists today has emitted greenhouse gases (GHG) at every stage of its production and use. 

In 2019, nearly a gigaton of greenhouse gases were emitted due to plastic production and use. By 2050, unless our current route changes, plastics are expected to produce up to 2.8 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions per year. To put that into perspective, if plastic production continues unabated and continues to expand, plastic production alone, will account for 13% of our total remaining (and quickly shrinking) global carbon budget by the year 2050.

Approximately 40% of all plastic waste comes from packaging alone. Of this, 20.6% is recycled, 20.6% is incinerated, 31% ends up at the landfill, and 27.8% is unmanaged. Not only does incineration release a significant amount of carbon dioxide (CO2), it also releases hazardous chemicals into the environment. As landfilled plastics break down, they can be carried off into the atmosphere by winds or leached into the soil or underground water reserves, contaminating them with microplastics and heavy metals found in plastics. Plastic that makes it way into the ocean continues to release greenhouse gases, especially methane, at the ocean's surface. Current estimates of this GHG release accounts for only 1% of plastic in the ocean, but as of today, there remains a lack of information and studies to know the exact amount. Not only does plastic in the ocean continually release greenhouse gases, it also threatens entire ocean ecosystems and food chains with microplastic contamination - directly affecting the oceans’ ability to store carbon. This is extremely concerning because the ocean is our largest carbon sink, and it has contained 20-40% of all carbon emissions since the 1850’s. Any negative changes to its ability to store carbon are worrying to say the least.

Recycling has long been touted as the answer for managing plastic waste. This unfortunately, is just not the case right now, nor will it likely ever be the complete solution. Recycling plastic requires many steps; from collection and transport, to processing and re-manufacture, the monetary and environmental cost of recycling is high. Coupled with relatively cheap costs of virgin plastic materials produced in ever increasing amounts, recycling processes are rarely profitable and require significant government subsidization for them to even exist. Due to such limitations only 9% of all discarded plastics have been recycled, the rest has been burned, buried, or scattered across our globe contaminating our atmosphere, waterways, biomes, and oceans. While recycling plastic has a lot of potential in mitigating plastic pollution and lowering GHG emissions, it doesn’t yet come close to solving the problem. So until we can recycle all of the plastic waste we generate, we have to do something else.

The most direct thing an individual can do about the plastic problem is practice ethical consumerism; incorporate questions about plastic packaging and plastic content when considering what to buy. Is this plastic waste worth the use I am getting out of this item? Are there alternatives to the single use plastic items I use? Is the plastic in this packaging actually recyclable, or will it end up in a landfill or incinerator, or worse the natural areas I love? 

This is what the challenge for April is all about. Refuse everything plastic that you are able to, and for everything else use an alternative - a reusable water bottle, a metal straw, a bamboo toothbrush. Any waste or plastic that cannot be refused or replaced should be recyclable, make sure that it is, and make sure it ends up at a recycling depot!

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To read the source material for this blog post, or to learn more about plastic, and its relationship to climate change and human health check out these reports:

Plastic and Climate: The Hidden Cost of a Plastic Planet

Plastic and Health: The Hidden Cost of a Plastic Planet


WHAT’S UP WITH THE CONSERVATIVES?

From taking on a children's cartoon production to voting against adding "climate change is real"; to its policy handbook, let's just say March wasn't the best month for the Conservative Party of Canada.

Jason Kenney's publicly funded war room has a new target in its crosshairs — a children’s animated cartoon movie about Bigfoot. Released in 2020, the moie portray's Bigfoot and his son Adam protecting a wildlife reserve from an oil company. “Brainwashing our kids with anti-oil and gas propaganda is just wrong — and Netflix needs to know that!” claims the war room (now know as the Canadian Energy Centre";). READ ARTICLE

At it's annual policy convention, Conservative Party of Canada delegates voted down green-friendly policies including language to acknowledge "climate change is real"; and to support "innovation in green technologies"; so that Canada can become "a world-class leader"; in an emerging industry READ ARTICLE.


CARBON PRICING WIN!

 

Last week the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the federal government has the legal authority to implement and set a price on carbon nationally - despite legal challenges and opposition from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario. Our friends at the Smart Prosperity Institute convened four political insiders and one lawyer to explore the ramifications. LISTEN TO THE PODCAST

If you're a little nervous about what a carbon price means to your wallet, use this crafty tool to calculate your annual rebate: CARBON TAX REBATE CALCULATOR


WTF GNL

An archaic technology ruining another pristine landscape. That's what's at stake with GNL Quebec project that would involve the construction of a 750 km gas pipeline, a gas liquefaction plant and a super-methane ship export terminal. This mega-project aims to export fossil gas (how can we still be building fossil fuel pipelines???) from the West to international markets (Europe, Asia, etc.), through Abitibi and Témiscamingue, Haute-Mauricie, Lac-St-Jean, Saguenay, Saguenay Fjord, St. Lawrence and well as communities in Northern Ontario.

The proposed route crosses territory occupied by First Peoples and provides for the construction of a gas pipeline of more than 750 km to transport gas from Western Canada to a gas liquefaction plant in Port Saguenay. In addition, storage infrastructures and an export port will also be built. In total, at least 300 super LNG (liquified natural gas) tankers would use the Saguenay Fjord. In the coming weeks the Quebec government will be considering their support of this project. PSSST.........we're pulling together a campaign to keep "Le Belle Province"; belle. Stay tuned.


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