young people have the power to make a change

young woman with dark hair standing against brick, pink blazer

The environment is more important than anything else to me. I grew up in Oro-Medonte, and developed a strong connection to nature as a child. I loved to go exploring in the forest behind my house and go canoeing on McCrae Lake with my parents. Years later, although my work has shifted to physics and engineering research, I still feel that protecting our natural environment is of the utmost importance.

A few years ago, I was invited to participate on an expedition to the Arctic. As a result, I had the opportunity to visit several villages, interact with Arctic residents, and explore the traditional Inuit culture.

The stories I was told of the devastating effects of climate change on the people who live in the Arctic struck a note inside me that the statistics I learned about at school never could. I wanted to do something, but when I got home, it seemed that my peers had become tone-deaf to the issue I cared so much about. So, I decided to share the stories of the Inuit people in an attempt to show others what I had witnessed during my expedition.

With the help of Canadian astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield, author and activist Margaret Atwood, famed explorer Dr. Wade Davis, and Nobel laureate environmentalist Dr. Brad Bass, my new open source documentary “400 PPM” tells those stories. Just a few weeks after the documentary’s release, it has already garnered the support of Canadian Geographic, the World Wildlife Fund, the Ministry of Education, and others, and it is being shown in schools and conferences around the world.

For me, from this experience, I learned two things: first – that climate change is a far more serious and imminent threat than I had ever imagined – and second – that young people have the power to make a change in the world. This documentary was never supposed to be anything more than a home video I would share with my family and friends – that is, until it took on a life of its own.

– Maya, Canada’s Top 20 Under 20, future Harvard grad, scientist, volunteer >> learn more