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Meet the Youth Shaking Up Canada's Approach to Climate and Social Justice

Updated: May 30

Congratulations to Shake Up the Establishment for receiving a runner-up Canadian Youth Climate Action Award in recognition of their work combatting climate change.

Shake Up The Establishment is a non-partisan, youth-led, registered organization that aims to make credible, evidence-informed information readily available to the Canadian population to promote informed voting, advocacy practices, and political accountability surrounding human and social justice issues that are exacerbated by the climate crisis.

They collaborate directly with groups and communities working to address injustices, alongside their ongoing work towards environment and climate literacy, and most importantly, political action. They are largely a volunteer-based organization but offer paid positions with living wages when they receive ethical funding to do so, for specific projects only. They believe that there is a role for volunteering as a form of distributive justice and to counteract the influences of the non-profit industrial complex phenomena, but also recognize the importance of paying individuals for their intelligence, expertise and labour whenever possible.

The Shake Up Your Community project launched in 2023 and since then, has provided 30 youth with the means to connect with local environmental justice movements in their communities. In 2023, Shake Up Your Community team members participated in meetings and working groups with their affiliated networks and coalitions to identify and respond to community-based concerns. Responding to calls-to-action involved the creation of climate engagement tool-kits for the general public, launching social media campaigns, and amplification of key messages from ally organizations.

Two of the larger initiatives that were born through these partnerships were Sue Big Oil and a Call-To-Action for a National Youth Climate Corps. Our Sue Big Oil event saw over 100 attendees and celebrated the release of a Sue Big Oil party-planning kit that helps everyday citizens raise awareness about the campaign to hold polluters accountable. For the Call-To-Action for a National Youth Climate Corps, they facilitated a demonstration where 100 letters stylized as job application cover letters were hand delivered to the office of the federal Minister of Labour and Employment, Workforce Development, and Disability Inclusion. This initiative was in support of the Youth Climate Corps program that aimed to create sustainable jobs for youth, which has now been included in the federal budget.

In 2023, they also launched Infiltrate the System, a weekly newsletter that short-lists news, events, and grassroots calls-to-action to improve the accessibility of local advocacy initiatives to the general public. And finally, they expanded the Map the System interactive database of activist organizations across what is currently Canada to facilitate connections amongst like-minded advocates promoting sustainability and justice.

In 2024, they are continuing to grow this program to reach more communities and improve accessibility of climate justice initiatives. They have begun to do this by recruiting 8 new volunteers across what is currently Canada, and are actively seeking new meaningful partnerships and coalitions to be a part of.

On May 16, 2024, Geoff Love presented the group with their runner-up Canadian Youth Climate Action Award, on behalf of Pivot Green and the Small Change Fund.

Learn more about Shake Up the Establishment here.

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