Shaping Change: Intergenerational Conversations on Activism | Ecology Action Centre

Shaping Change: Intergenerational Conversations on Activism


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What is the future of the environmental movement? 

What can different generations of activists learn from each other? 

How can progressive social movements support each other and collaborate better? 


Click here to watch a recording of the panel discussion!

Join us for an engaging and inspiring conversation on activism and making change! We are bringing together a diverse group of brilliant local activists from across generations and communities to connect, share stories and lessons, and explore how we can work together effectively to build a more just and sustainable world. 

This event kicks off EAC’s 50th birthday celebrations. We'll be partying with a purpose throughout 2021, and this conversation is the first of many ways we plan to celebrate, inspire, and mobilize for action.  

As we celebrate the past 50 years of action, we’re also looking forward to the future we're shaping now in these crucial times. We hope this will be a powerful conversation about connecting across generations of change-makers, strengthening our movements, and forging a path forward together. 

Featured Panelists: 

  • Lynn Jones 
  • Willa Fisher 
  • Cathy Martin 
  • Robin Tress 
  • Brian Gifford 
  • Shannon Arnold 
  • Moderated by Catherine Abreu

*scroll below for full panelist bios





Panelist Bios







Catherine Abreu is an internationally recognized, award-winning campaigner whose work centres on building powerful coalitions to advance action on climate change. One of the world’s 100 most influential people in climate policy as named by Apolitical in 2019, she has over 15 years of experience campaigning on environmental issues including 7 years in the heart of the climate movement. 

Catherine is currently the Executive Director of Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat (CAN-Rac) Canada. Canada’s primary network of organizations working on climate change and energy issues, CAN-Rac is a coalition of more than 120 organizations operating from coast to coast to coast. Catherine joined CAN-Rac Canada in 2016, after five years spearheading the energy and climate programs at the Ecology Action Centre, Atlantic Canada’s longest-running environmental advocacy organization. She is also the former Coordinator of the Atlantic Canada Sustainable Energy Coalition. 

Catherine is the 2020 recipient of the prestigious Jack Layton Progress Prize for her international leadership on climate policy and action, and her transformative work at CAN-Rac Canada. She is a proud honouree of Canada’s Clean50. 








Brian Gifford is retired in HRM with his companion Lee Seymour. He has 3 children, and several grandchildren and great grandchildren.  After helping start the Ecology Action Centre in 1971 and working with the EAC for the next 4 years, he stayed home to parent his young son Dylan for a few years and then worked in various non-profits in social housing and St. Joseph's Children's Centre, ending his career with the City of Ottawa. He lived in Halifax most of his adult life except for stints in California and Ottawa and lived in one of Nova Scotia’s first housing co-ops, OVO Co-op, for 21 years. Brian was OVO’s first President and was very active in the co-op housing movement. He helped start and led Nova Scotians for Tax Fairness for several years and has been an NDP supporter for decades. Brian joined a group of NS students to go to New York City for the largest ever Climate Change demonstration in 2015 and helped organize a climate change march here in Halifax the same year. He now volunteers with the Ecology Action Centre, the Affordable Energy Coalition and the Universalist Unitarian Church. On behalf of the AEC he’s helped establish an energy efficiency program for landlords housing low-income tenants. 








Catherine Martin is a member of the Millbrook Mi’kmaw Community, Truro, NS.  She is an independent international award-winning film producer and director, a writer, facilitator, communications consultant, community activist, teacher, drummer, and the first Mi’kmaw woman filmmaker from the Atlantic region. She is a past Chair of APTN and served on the board for the first five years of its inception. She has contributed to policy and institutional change to make cultural and arts more accessible to First Nations artists.  

Her contributions to film, television and digital media in Atlantic Canada were recognized with a WAVE Award from Women in Film and Television Atlantic. She was honoured with a National Peace Award from VOW (Voices of Women) in November 2016 for her years of work as a peace activist. Catherine has contributed to the development of many programs to advance the education of Mi’kmaq and Aboriginal women and youth in the Atlantic Region and across the country, including the Certificate in Community Health at Dalhousie for women in Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Innu, and Inuit communities, the Indigenous Black and Mi’kmaq Law Program also at Dalhousie, and the Indigenous Women in Community Leadership program at the Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University, and Professor for CBU’s BA Community Program.  

From 2015 to 2019 Catherine was  appointed as the 14th Nancy’s Chair in Women’s Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University. Catherine is a board of governor for the University of Kings College School of Journalism. She was awarded the Senate 150 medal and the Order of Canada in 2017. She is now the first Director of Indigenous Community Relations at Dalhousie University. 








Lynn Jones is a proud African Canadian born and raised in Truro, Nova Scotia. Her Nova Scotia roots span several generations, making her one of several Indigenous African Nova Scotians residing here over 400 years. She is a pan Africanist whose travel takes her across many countries in her ancestral home on the continent of Africa.  

Being employed as a Federal Public Service employee for over 30 years coupled with her extensive experience in the Canadian labour movement enabled Lynn to be a social justice leader in areas many Black people had never ventured before. This includes being the first Black General Vice-President of the Canadian Labour Congress and National Vice-President of the Canada Employment and Immigration Union. Lynn leveraged her community and labour background to become the first Canadian born African women to seek office in a federal election in Canada. Jones is the recipient of the Queen’s Medal and chair of the Global African Congress Nova Scotia Chapter, an organization which seeks reparations for the atrocities of the Atlantic Slave Trade. 

Lynn has been in the vanguard of the fight for fair labour practices for many years including most recently the joint campaign "fight for $15" which attempts to win an increase in the minimum wage for all workers. Lynn recently donated over 50 years of personal archival material on the Black local, national and international community to the St Mary’s University Library and archives where it is now housed as "The Lynn Jones African Canadian and Diaspora Heritage Collection." 








Robin Tress is an activist and organizer focusing on climate justice and land defense in Mi'kma'ki/Nova Scotia. She works as a climate and social justice campaigner with the Council of Canadians focusing on movement building, resisting fossil fuel infrastructure expansion, and organizing for a just transition. Her leadership was instrumental in the movement to ban fracking in Nova Scotia in 2014, and played a key role in mobilizing hundreds of people to successfully call for a moratorium. Robin recently completed a Masters of Adult Education at St. FX where she conducted research about how settlers are learning to be in solidarity with Mi'kmaq-led struggles to defend the land. These days she is actively wondering how people in Nova Scotia can become organized enough to stop offshore drilling, LNG, and Alton Gas, and instead invest in a diverse and equitable economy that can allow everyone to have a dignified and sustainable life. 








Shannon Arnold has been an activist and community organizer for more than 25 years involved in issues of social justice, immigration, coastal and small-scale fishing rights, environment, and corporate power. Her direct-action activism 'coming of age’ was through the anti(alter) globalization and anti-war movements of the mid 90s to mid 2000s in Canada and Hong Kong. Shannon’s studies covered political-ecology, social movements, coastal fishing rights, and eventually the amazing world of Philippines seaweed farming. She had the privilege of learning community organizing from leaders of the Philippines People Power revolution and working for 6 years with a 30 000 strong fisher and farmer peoples’ organization. She currently leads the marine program at the Ecology Action Centre working for coastal access and fisheries with long term ecological and economic sustainability at the local, national, and international level. 








Willa Fisher is a co-founder of School Strike for Climate Halifax, and a student at NSCAD university. She has been actively participating in activism since the age of 16, planning strikes, holding workshops, and spreading awareness among Halifax schools. Willa was part of the core organizing team for the historic 2019 Climate Strike, which saw over 10,000 people turn out in Halifax to demand climate action. She has extensive experience with ground level organizing, particularly in relation to youth lead initiatives.