Newsletter: March 2024

Newsletter: March 2024

MARCH 27, 2024 –

From L to R: Peter Raymont, White Pine Pictures; Burkhard Mausberg; Rick Smith, Executive Producer.

A Message from our President

Earlier this month, I attended the SXSW Festival in Austin for the global premiere of Plastic People. I’ve never been part of a fancy festival before and it was certainly a new experience to have our movie sandwiched between Stormy Daniels’ documentary and Meghan Markle’s keynote address.

Plastic People is a documentary about the dangers of plastic pollution and was produced by White Pine Pictures. Small Change Fund helped raise about a half a million dollars towards production and a campaign to increase the film’s impact. The brainchild of Rick Smith, Plastic People is an excellent film on a crucial topic of our times, but don’t take my word for it. Remarkable reviews have been published in the New York Times and in Variety Magazine.

The next showing is in Ottawa, during an April UN Conference at which a global plastic treaty to address plastic pollution will be developed. We are urging all international delegates to attend one of the two screenings to learn about the most recent science on the dangers of ‘killer polymers.’ We believe this film will move the public and decision-makers to act on reducing plastics and addressing their dangerous impacts.

In an age of short video obsession fostered by TikTok, Plastic People shows once more the importance of long-form documentary film making: superb story-telling on important issues. Public screenings will be announced in the coming months, so keep your eyes on our newsletter to find out how you can watch this groundbreaking film.

– Burkhard



Picture by Eagle Thom.

World Water Day: March 22nd

Did you know that there are 26 First Nations communities still living with long-term drinking water advisories in Canada? These communities have been living without safe drinking water for more than a year, and in some cases, more than a decade.

We partnered with the Council of Canadians for their fourth annual Water Drop campaign to educate youth about the drinking water crisis in First Nations communities. Students across the country, along with Indigenous youth living on reserves without safe drinking water, were invited to write a message to the Prime Minister on a “Water Drop”, urging him to continue to follow through on his promise to end drinking water advisories. Thousands of Water Drops were completed and will be delivered to the Prime Minister in June. You can support the fight to end drinking water advisories here.

No Music on a Dead Planet

This year was the greenest JUNO Awards yet and our project with Music Declares Emergency Canada played a major role in making it that way! Not only did the JUNO Host Committee offer sustainable transportation initiatives for JUNO week, the stage for the JUNO Block Party was completely powered by renewables, including our electricity-producing pedal bike!

On March 17th, we also supported the launch of The Environmental Music Awards to celebrate artists that are raising awareness for the climate emergency, as well as industry professionals who are working to make the music industry more sustainable. Canadian artists Joni Mitchell and Neil Young were recognized at the launch for their environmental legacies. Keep your eyes open for the results later this year.

Picture by Garrett Elliott.

Getting Youth on the Bus

In 2012, I began a journey that transformed my life and also brought about positive change in Kingston, Ontario. It began with a simple yet impactful initiative: granting high school students free access to public transit and providing them with the training to use it. This program increased high school ridership in Kingston from 28,000 to close to 600,000 rides annually. Over the years, the success of the initiative garnered national attention, prompting inquiries from across the country from communities hoping to duplicate the program. By 2021, it was apparent that the demand for my knowledge had grown beyond what I could manage independently. At the suggestion of a friend, I began looking for a partner.

That search led me to Small Change Fund. Our partnership marked a turning point and catalyzed a nationwide movement. Dubbed Get on the Bus, this movement aims to establish a network of communities across Canada that prioritize youth and transit usage. This includes not only implementing free transit policies for youth but also emphasizing the importance of proper training.

The support and resources provided by Small Change Fund have been instrumental in making a tangible difference in this work. I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished thus far, including engaging 11 communities in our movement who are in various stages of implementing free youth transit. I am excited about the continued positive changes we will bring to Canadian cities, their transit systems and, most importantly, our youth.

– Get on the Bus Co-founder & Project Director, Dan Hendry

Picture by Shannon Chief (Waba Moko), AMC coordinator.

Advocating for Moose and Anishnabe Cultural Sovereignty

We continue to partner with the Anishnabe Moose Committee (AMC) to protect and revitalize the moose population in and around La Verendrye Park in north-western Quebec. The population, which plays a critical role in Anishnabe culture, has suffered a 30% decline. The AMC is now implementing recommendations from the preliminary 2022 recovery report, including developing an educational tool for Anishnabe families that describes how traditional foods should be harvested throughout the seasons, as well as hosting a successful Land gathering. We are pleased to continue to support the AMC’s vital work to ensure that community-led research informs the solutions needed to ensure the long-term protection of the moose. You can support this work by donating here.

A DAMN Manifesto

The fight for a moratorium on new gravel mining applications in Ontario continues through our DAMN Campaign. If you’re not familiar with why we’re Demanding A Moratorium Now, check out the above video for context on this critical fight. For a comprehensive overview of the aggregate industry and its associated impacts, Tony Sevelka’s Environmental, Legal and Social Implications of Aggregate Extraction (Mining) Operations can be downloaded free of charge from The Grassroots Institute.

Small News Bites

  • Hey Stratford, Ontario! Check out the FREE Earth Day Street Party on April 20th from 11:30am-2:00pm. For more details, email
  • A reminder that the deadline for submissions to the 2024 Canadian Youth Climate Action Awards is April 2, 2024. This is a great opportunity to highlight youth in your community!
  • Looking for updates on the Hallman Pit battle? Learn about critical developments at tomorrow’s Community Meeting from 7-9 pm EST. RSVP here.

Thank you to all of our partners and supporters, both new and long term. We wish everyone a joyous spring!


The Small Change Fund Team

P.S. Your donation directly to Small Change Fund allows us to keep improving services and supports to help more grassroots projects succeed nationwide. Thank you for helping make change!