Newsletter: May 2023
MAY 31, 2023 –
A Message from our President
About two decades ago, my best friend in Germany married an Afghan woman who had escaped her country when the Russians invaded in 1979. In the 2000s, the couple moved to Kabul and helped with rebuilding the country.
How does this relate to Small Change Fund? Well, I learned a lot about Afghanistan from my friends and so when we were asked to help with settling Afghan refugees in Canada, I felt a great urge to do so.
You might wonder why Small Change Fund is doing this work – aside from caring humanitarian reasons. After all, we are known for our work on environmental issues. Well, our charitable objects allow us to work on poverty and Indigenous issues as well. Indeed, they mandate that we do. As a result, we are diversifying our work on poverty and how this connects to sustainability. Our project to help Afghan refugees in particular has a low environmental footprint: using circular economy principles we support individual refugees with lightly used computers, furniture, clothing, as well as provide other essential services.
I look forward to telling more stories on our poverty work in the coming months.
Malalai in her new role. Photo courtesy of Canadian Connections.
Relieving Poverty for Refugees
In partnership with Canadian Connections, we are thrilled to help Afghan refugees settle in Canada. Through this project, we assist in providing low-barrier and low environmental footprint support for Afghans who worked with the Canadian government and were forced to flee Afghanistan. Along with providing day-to-day necessities, we are supporting these newcomers with critical information to help them navigate the challenges of finding employment and accessing health services. Volunteers Marcella and Sandra, along with a committed Board, have been hard at work for the past two years on this project. We recently hired an Afghan refugee, Malalai, whose welcoming presence has provided comfort and efficiency in this work and made the transition more accessible for refugees.
Earlier this month, our partners at The Alliance For A Liveable Ontario released a report exposing how proposed changes to Ontario’s planning laws will destroy agriculture in the province while
allocating resources to housing construction in the wrong areas. Not only are these proposed changes devastating, they’re entirely unnecessary. Studies demonstrate that municipalities have enough land to build more than 2 million homes without encroaching on the Greenbelt and sacrificing prime agricultural land and natural spaces. You can help stand up for the Greenbelt by endorsing the report from the Alliance and by writing to your MPP before June 6th to comment on the proposed changes. You can also donate towards our work with the Alliance here.
Together with partners like Aman Lara, and with generous support from donors including True Patriot Love Foundation, Canadian Connections and Small Change Fund have found real traction to help these refugees as they strive to meet the needs of everyday life in their new country. Welcome home, friends.
The Greenbelt Fight Continues
Earlier this month, our partners at The Alliance For A Liveable Ontario released a report exposing how proposed changes to Ontario’s planning laws will devastate agriculture in the province while allocating resources to housing construction in the wrong areas.
Not only are these proposed changes devastating, they’re entirely unnecessary. Studies demonstrate that municipalities have enough land to build more than 2 million homes without encroaching on the Greenbelt and sacrificing prime agricultural land and natural spaces. You can help stand up for the Greenbelt by endorsing the report from the Alliance and by writing to your MPP before June 6th to comment on the proposed changes. You can also donate towards our work with the Alliance here.
Last month we shared the winners of the Canadian Youth Climate Action Award, held in partnership with Pivot Green. We were so impressed by the winning submission that we just had to share more about their work.
Stratford (ON) District Secondary School’s Deep Roots eco-club is truly an inspiration. Their project is a food garden, planted and maintained by students and seniors in the community. Not only is the garden a major environmental improvement over the lawn it replaced, it brings together different generations, something which is especially critical after the isolation of the pandemic. In August, the garden will be harvested and a celebratory meal enjoyed by all participants. We love that this project helps the environment while at the same time connecting youth and seniors in the community.
Once again, congratulations Deep Roots!
We are delighted to introduce Mike Balkwill as VP, Campaigns and Engagement. Mike develops effective campaign and advocacy strategies to impact public policy. His approach to campaigning inspires hope: in 40 years of campaign and community organizing, he has supported numerous communities in opposing development projects that were “done deals” and has won countless victories with diverse public benefits.
“While a campaign to mobilize broad public engagement won’t guarantee a community can win, failure is guaranteed if they don’t fight back,” says Mike.
When not working towards environmental and social justice, Mike spends his time perfecting a rock opera which will be performed July 12th in Guelph, Ontario.
Get on the Bus with Small Change Fund
We are excited to announce the launch of our national youth transit movement on June 12th at 1:00pm EST. Join us as we bring together voices from across the country to explore how free public transit benefits youth, the environment and our communities. Register for the webinar at: https://bit.ly/getonthebus-zoom – you won’t want to miss it!
This month we launched Save the Saugeen to protect farmland and sustainable
development in the Saugeen River Valley. Through this project we are opposing the creation and expansion of at least two gravel pits in the area.
Small News Bites
- On Monday we hosted our first Government Relations Briefing Session: “Federal climate policy update and future opportunities forecast” with Sheamus Murphy. Keep an eye out for future sessions!
- A key survey from our partners at the Escarpment Corridor Alliance found that Southern Georgian Bay residents overwhelmingly support stronger conservation measures in the region.
- We are thrilled to report a significant victory in the fight against the Bradford Bypass! The Federal Court decided that it was unreasonable for the environment minister to deny a federal assessment for the project as the minister did not consider critical new information raised in the request.
- Our partners at Music Declares Emergency Canada have been nominated for a Community Impact Award at the Live Music Industry Awards. You can vote for them here!
A big thank you to all of our partners, donors and supporters for a successful spring so far. Have a wonderful June!
The Small Change Fund Team