My name is Dana Taylor and I am one of GSA’s new community organizers! I’m looking forward to developing a long-term community organizing plan for GSA.
But first let me tell you a little bit about myself.
I moved out West from Ontario about a year and a half ago, but thanks to the pandemic I still feel new to Vancouver. I got my start in community organizing while I was studying Environmental Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa. I was introduced to community organizing in 2015, while volunteering with local non-profit Ecology Ottawa – and I knew that my path to helping to protect the environment was through organizing. Since then I have worked as a community organizer for a variety of non-profit organizations, including Force of Nature Alliance.
My passion for organizing came from my understanding, at a young age, of the privilege I grew up with and my concern for the warming planet.
I grew up next to a marsh on Lake Ontario. I spent my summers swimming in Lake Erie and playing on its purple beaches. My winters were spent skiing, sledding and tubing up north. Every day when I walked home from school through that marsh, I saw deer, coyotes and fish swimming up the stream. I knew how lucky I was to have this as my daily route home.
When I was about 10, I remember being in the car going to Lake Erie and hearing on the radio about a First Nations blockade, in what we would call “cottage country,” that would likely divert our route. I was confused. I asked my parents to explain the conflict to me and they did to the best of their understanding. It was one of those defining moments of childhood when you realize your parents don’t know everything.
I knew that there was a lot more to the story. I took my understanding into my own hands and learned more about Indigenous blockades. I learned about my relationship to Indigenous people and to this land where I was enjoying the full benefits as a colonizer. I realized that my lovely childhood, enjoying all that Ontario had to offer, was at the expense of someone else’s relationship with this land.
Through this understanding, my love of nature progressed into a passion to protect this land in accordance with the cultures who have lived on this land for thousands of years.
I hope with my experience that I can help to build up GSA’s grassroots efforts. At GSA, we are looking to build a stronger environmental movement with a commitment to diversity and decolonization in the environmental work that we do. Our focus for this new community organizing plan is not only to develop relationships with and mobilize local communities to work together to protect the Salish Sea, but to support local communities as they work to achieve their own goals.