Here at YouthLine, staff started to prioritize talking about their thoughts, experiences, and feelings in regard to climate change once we realized how many of us were feeling anxiety about the earth. The term “climate despair” came up, so we wanted to unpack that a little bit, and offer some resources in case climate despair is something that’s been on your mind, or something you’ve been experiencing.
We thought that if so many of us were having big feels around what’s been happening with the climate, other 2SLGBTQ+ youth must be, too!
There are a lot of likeminded people out there who feel what we feel about climate change. We wanted to highlight some of the Indigenous folks out there who are doing some really incredible and essential work around climate change. Since colonialism, ongoing oppression of Indigenous people, and climate change are intrinsically linked, it’s important to not leave Indigenous efforts against climate change out of the conversation.
We found some videos and resources to check out if you are interested in learning a little bit about some of the work that’s being done by Indigenous folks to address climate change, and how you can support.
Head to yintahaccess.com or unistoten.camp if you want to learn more about how to support the Wet’suwet’en people.
Below are a few more links, if you are wondering about other ways Indigenous folks are protecting their rights and the environment:
If you’re curious about some of the ways 2SLGBTQ+ youth have been emotionally coping with climate despair, here are a few strategies that worked for folks at YouthLine, and a list of self-reflection questions to help you develop your own!
If you’re experiencing climate despair and want to chat about it, or anything else that’s on your mind, feel free to connect with our 2SLGBTQ+ peer support team!
Our service is open Sunday to Friday. Our hours are:
Phone: 6 PM to 9 PM at 1-800-268-9688
Text: 4 PM to 9:30 PM at 647-694-4275
Chat: 4 PM to 9:30 PM – Click the chat button at the bottom or top of the page
A few additional resources that might be helpful:
This website has some extra ideas on how to cope with climate despair:
This Instagram profile has a lot of great, informative posts about climate change, and offers some ideas to support people in building climate resiliency.
In December 2021, a staff member at YouthLine created a survey about climate despair for other staff and volunteers, to find out what 2SLGBTQ+ youth are thinking and feeling about climate despair and climate change. A few questions asked in that survey were similar to the self-reflection questions asked above. Here are the questions from the survey, and answers from peers!
“Community resiliency means to me that we are actively working together, as a community to make decisions that support the safety and growth of the earth, decisions that centre community safety over capitalism, actively working against forces that are trying to further harm the community.”
“This to me means coming together and sharing resources and our unique talents to aid all no matter circumstances. Connecting to our neighbours, friends, family and others around to create bonds to be able to come together. Though it’s also putting aside our conditioned idea of individualism to create better accesses and supports for those living through the worst of it, mainly racialized, poor and disabled individuals who are living through the worst of it as they have been placed in the positions by those with more power.”
“**Unrelated, I don’t have much energy to meditate on all of these questions much! It’s such a vast/wide-reaching crisis that affects everyone (and BIPOC disproportionately) in ways that social injustices don’t even reach, so it’s hard to contemplate. I generally feel optimistic nihilism about it, in that it’s so much bigger than any one person’s contributions that regardless what happens, I appreciate being here now and interacting with nature/the seasons!”
“Resilience is the rate at which one is able to recover- physically and mentally- from a situation. In this context, community resiliency, to me, means a community’s ability to remain compassionate, caring, and aware amidst climate change/despair, as well as it’s ability to recover physically, infrastructure-wise. While mental and physical community resilience are different, I do not think you could truly have one without the other.”
“Community resiliency means, to me, that your community comes together as a collective for mutual support, coping, and action. Regarding climate change and climate despair, this can look like a lot of things. Community gardens, edible forests, peer support spaces, listening to community members about their experiences, answering calls to action, protesting efforts that are environmentally destructive, posting to social media continuing conversations of climate change and its environmental impacts, talking to local politicians about climate change and its impacts, Land Back Camps, land defenders, and water protectors are all examples of community resiliency to me.”
“Community resiliency to me means supporting each other in ways that may seem unconventional now. Co-living, growing and sharing food with each other, establishing barter systems outside of capitalism, relying on one another for material/emotional/physical support, skill sharing, learning ways to live without relying on police of fossil fuels, learning how to better be in conflict with one another, etc.”
“Personally, I’m too caught up in my schoolwork and career aspirations that I haven’t been able to dedicate time for this. But every now and then I really appreciate being out in nature, going on hikes, or just enjoying the beautiful views that I’m lucking to have access to.”
“Gardening, foraging, photography and taking quite moments to mindfully appreciate the nature around me. I love growing my own food as it has really taught me to respect what the earth is providing and contribute to the interconnectedness of bugs, animals, plants and all else. I also love taking photos to appreciate the beautiful things in nature that I see without damaging or disrupting the system it is part of.”
“By meditating, writing, and reading about spirituality and Oneness. I truly believe that we are Earth, we are nature. By knowing this, connecting with Earth is easy, as it is simply connecting with the Self, all aspects of the self. I also find when I run or hike in the forest, I am overcome with the ease at which I am able to connect to this realization.”
“I try my best to learn the plants around me and where they come from or what they do. I try to observe the land around me and mentally document the changes I see through seasons and changing weather patterns. I try to remind myself that I too am a part of nature and am always connected to the earth even if I spend a lot of time inside, and to get outside as much as possible. I try my best to treat the land well and support those who are on the frontlines, and to understand that humans are not the most important part of life and reality – though we play a crucial role in climate change moving forward.”
“I think it’s difficult for Indigenous peoples, especially those living in remote communities to be resilient in the face of climate change. The economics of living in a northern community don’t provide many jobs outside of industry, so folks are often forced to work in industries that directly contribute to climate change for their own survival… I ask myself, how are we to create resilient Indigenous communities when folks are struggling to afford food, water, and housing – It often forces Indigenous peoples to being complicit in climate change. So, I envision a future where Indigenous people can live comfortably and healthily without relying on industry to finance their lifestyle and compensate for Canada’s failings.”
“Minimize fossil fuels use– especially for large corporations. Have more dedicated spaces for plant life and forests. Hold spaces where folks can grieve for Earth’s current state and also hope and plan for a better future. Listen to and give decision-making power to young people who will inherit this planet and Indigenous communities who have been fighting for this planet for generations. Give the land back to Indigenous communities. Magically instill a sense of respect and connection to nature within relevant authorities so they can stop absolutely destroying everything. Talk to folks from all walks of life and geographic locations about climate change, and always seek new ways to expand, share, and act on your knowledge.”
“The most important thing is for the government resources and support to go to the public. Right now, the government is working for and facilitating life for the 1%; these efforts need to be redirected to support the rest of the population. We need better access to housing, food, healthcare, education, jobs. The 1% will be fine; it is everyone else who will need support from the government in the face of climate change.”
“Often, I playfully mention when conversations arise in such context, that we’ve only got another 50 years left before the majority of society collapses. Thank you BSc in Environmental Science. In all seriousness, it is hard for me to think much about what could support the wellness of community in the future when I am unable to envision a future at all- though not in a sad or hopeless way, simply, in a way. The only thing I can think of at this time, is going back to the question before this. We are of the Earth. We are not separate from it. I believe that the more people truly know this in their soul and the more they begin living as such, the better off we will be in the present and in the future.”
“I think that understanding the ways in which I will be impacted by extreme weather events and creating safety plans for myself and those around me is an important thing for my own well being. I’m trying to learn about growing food and wild food sources. Checking in on my friends and family and holding space for their thoughts and feelings around climate despair.”