Climate Justice: Building the World We Want To Live In

Lisa Atkinson - Purpose Construction graduate and lead hand trainer

Lisa Atkinson - Purpose Construction graduate and lead hand trainer

Kalen Taylor, the Executive Director of Purpose Construction, is an award-winning social entrepreneur whose work focuses on growing social enterprise businesses that build a sustainable future, while creating trades training opportunities, long term jobs and economic opportunities in marginalized communities. Purpose Construction is a non-profit social enterprise construction company that provides trades training and employment to people with barriers to traditional labour force access. Purpose Construction provides long term, living wage employment to refugees, Indigenous peoples, single mothers and people transitioning out of the justice system, while delivering competitively priced commercial and residential construction services.

Some days, dinner conversation at my house feels like a ping-pong match between fear and hope for the future. My partner is an environmental scientist, working for Inuit governments across Northern Canada as they grapple with the rising impacts of climate change and increased industrial development in Canada’s arctic regions. From her side of the table, we hear about the rising human impact of the climate crises and the urgent need for change. Some days, the scale of the challenge feels overwhelming. And it can be.

I have been lucky enough to spend my time working on some truly groundbreaking climate justice projects that give me a deep sense of hope for the future, and the chances to build an inclusive green economy that provides opportunities for environmental, economic and social prosperity for all our communities.

Vicki Nelson - Purpose Construction trainee

Vicki Nelson - Purpose Construction trainee

From my end of the dinner table, I talk about Indigenous-owned social enterprise creating green jobs in northern First Nations building renewable energy. Social enterprise creating living wage jobs for refugees building energy-efficient, low income housing. I talk about how something as simple as a job insulating buildings can create long term career opportunities for people transitioning out of the prison system. How that job can lead to families reuniting with their children, getting access to safe and secure housing for the first time in their lives.

In some ways, dinner conversation in my family represents the yin and yang of the climate change conversation happening globally today. The road ahead is challenging, to be sure, but it’s also full of hope and possibility.

Climate justice calls on us to ask, “what kind of world do we want to live in?” Climate Justice challenges us to tackle climate change in ways that safeguards the rights of the world’s most vulnerable, and focuses on building a green economy for tomorrow that provides access to sustainable livelihoods and prosperity for those people most marginalized in our communities.

Climate justice is about reconciliation with Indigenous nations, it’s about safeguarding the rights of migrants, it’s about ensuring that both the burdens of addressing climate change and the benefits of the new green economy are shared equally by all.

Today, we have a chance to invest in carbon reduction at the same time as building a new green economy that creates opportunities for the most vulnerable among us.

It is in this spirit of hope that Faith & the Common Good has partnered with Purpose Construction in Manitoba to deliver the newly launched United Church of CanadaFaithful Footprints” carbon reduction program -- a program designed to provide inspiration, tools, and grants to help the church and its communities of faith live their climate commitments.

The Faithful Footprints program provides up to $30,000 in grant funding per congregation to support United Church communities to invest in insulation, heating system replacement, the installation of energy efficient windows, appliances and renewable energy system. This funding opportunity represents a chance to lower utility bills in faith buildings, reduce our carbon footprint and invest in the long term sustainability of our communities.

By partnering with Purpose Construction to act as a Faithful Footprints Support Hub in the Prairie region, we are going beyond carbon reductions. We are working towards climate justice. Purpose Construction will bring our knowledge to the table supporting congregations through the grant application and project delivery process. And in addition to that, congregations will have the option of working with Purpose Construction to perform energy efficiency upgrades, creating training opportunities in the green building trades for refugees, newcomers, Indigenous peoples and those transitioning out of the justice system. We are building opportunities and economic inclusion for those too often pushed to the margins.

Sinai Mosazghi - Purpose Construction graduate and lead hand trainer

Sinai Mosazghi - Purpose Construction graduate and lead hand trainer

Purpose Construction is also excited to share our climate justice learning and services throughout the region.  As part of our Faithful Footprints regional hub work, we will establish a multi-faith Spirited Climate Action Forum in order to encourage diverse faith based and multi-sectoral allied groups to work together and help create a regional climate collaborative network in the Prairies that will continue beyond the life of this project. 

Together, we are working to ensure that the green economy of tomorrow is an inclusive economy for all Canadians.

Want to learn more?  Contact Faithful Footprints Prairies Regional Coordinator, Jill Hisco by phone 204-943-0908 or by email.