How a college student advocated for her town of New Glasgow in Nova Scotia to become a Bee City

keeley-city-hall

How a college student advocated for her town of New Glasgow in Nova Scotia to become a Bee City

Written by Keeley Shipley

From left to right; Rachel Mitchell, Ashley Kenney, Keeley Shipley, Brooke Barsness, Lilah Ross! 

My whole life I have enjoyed being outside and being immersed in nature, this is what ultimately sparked my passion for the environment and keeping it safe. In high school I was highly involved in the student council, in grade 11 I was the co-head of my school’s environmental club and in grade 12 I was a co-president of my school. During my time as co-head of the environmental club one of my friends introduced me to Bee City Canada.

Our school’s environmental team immediately hopped on board and decided to become a Bee School! However, my passion for the environment did not stop in my school, I also co-founded Pictou County Fridays for Future, a youth led organisation that educated and empowered the youth in my community to take a stand against climate change and work together to advocate for climate action! While working with my community through Pictou County Fridays for Future I was able to make connections within New Glasgow’s town
council, this is where I met Rachel Mitchell, the Climate Change Coordinator for the town of New Glasgow.

Rachel and I along with other Fridays for Future members worked closely together and eventually we created the New Glasgow Youth Climate Council. Through this council I proposed that we make New Glasgow a Bee City. I had such a great experience working with Bee City in my high school and I thought it would be a great idea to get New Glasgow on board as well. Myself and four other members of Pictou County Fridays for Future/ New Glasgow’s Youth Climate Council, Tess Murray, Lilah Ross, Brooke Barsness and Ashley Kenney, planned a presentation to give at a town council meeting.
At this town council meeting we presented the benefits of becoming a pollinator friendly town and how important our bees are to our ecosystem, here we also proposed that New Glasgow should commit to becoming a pollinator friendly town by joining Bee City Canada. We had an amazing response from the town council and every single member raised their hands in agreement to join Bee City Canada and become a pollinator friendly town! It was such an amazing feeling to see so many people excited to create a healthier eco-system for our pollinators. I was definitely not expecting such a remarkable response from the council but it is very evident that my community is also very environmentally aware.
In Pictou County we have great recycling systems as well as education programs throughout communities and schools to teach the importance of recycling, composting and sustainability. I am definitely very lucky to have grown up in this community where the environment is cared for and many people make efforts to keep our green spaces healthy. One thing that I am extremely grateful for is Pictou County Solid Waste and Divert Nova Scotia. Without having grown up with these organizations’ involvement in my schools and community I would not be as educated and environmentally aware as I am today! I always thought there could be more ways for my community to take more action against climate change but after moving to a different province for University I have seen just how different recycling and climate action can look in different communities and overall I am very happy to say that my home town has some of the best ways of taking care of the environment.
I was shocked when I came to university and my school did not have a composting system nor did my residence have paper or bottle recycling options. After talking with my school’s climate change officer I found out that the new city I live in does not have composting and that is why my school cannot compost as well. I believe that Pictou County is in a good spot to continue to create the change needed to keep our environment healthy and combat climate change. As long as organizations such as Pictou County Fridays for Future, Pictou County Solid waste and the Youth Climate Council continue to educate others I believe that the county can make great progress in building an eco-friendly mindset among everyone in the community.
When I was 15 I helped start these movements within my community and now I am just weeks away from turning 19 and I am so proud of all of the youth who I have seen follow in my footsteps and spark change within their schools and communities. I truly believe that one person can make a huge difference and I am confident that Bee City has added another great chapter to Pictou County’s climate action plans!
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