Squamish Climate Action Network

by Gerhardt Troan

Foodlands’ newest member organization is the Squamish Climate Action network, or Squamish CAN. Initially founded in 2009, Squamish CAN has worked for over a decade to pursue environmental policy development, food systems education, and sustainable land stewardship in and around Squamish BC. Squamish CAN currently has several active projects, including two community gardens, a year-round outdoor schoolyard which teaches children the skills required to grow and harvest plants, the Squamish Seed Library, and the Squamish Food Policy Council. Together, these projects ensure the integration of farming across Squamish’s urban, rural, and political spaces. Most recently, as a materialization of their commitment to creating affordable spaces for community farmers to live and work, Squamish CAN has founded Common Acres Community Farm in collaboration with Young Agrarians.

In 2021, Squamish CAN revised their mission statement and methodologies in recognition of the challenges posed by COVID-19 and the importance of community-building and decolonization in environmental and agricultural practice. This new mission statement and the accompanying plan emphasize the importance of place in climate activism, and recognize that pursuing environmental justice in and around Squamish requires an understanding of the needs and relationships of the area’s human and more-than-human communities.

Squamish is comprised of many communities, who do not always have equal access to educational or financial resources, and can come to conflict even when their ultimate goals are aligned. Thus, much of Squamish CAN’s work aims to directly or indirectly educate residents and policy makers about the theory and practice required to maintain food systems within the Sea-to-Sky Region. This educational focus is best exemplified in the Mamquam Edible Schoolyward, which bridges the gap between urban schooling and agricultural space for students, teachers, and parents at Mamquam Elementary. The notion of education also permeates Squamish CAN’s website, which is replete with videos, graphics, and links to research surrounding climate work; and motivates their community events and workshops. Even initiatives such as Common Acres or the community gardens serve a dual purpose, simultaneously providing a workspace for those already invested in sustainable agriculture and granting agriculture visibility and presence within urban Squamish.

Squamish CAN’s work is primarily local, yet they also recognize the importance of systemic change and unified voice. Thus, the organization acts at once as a network of aligned initiatives within Squamish and a member of larger networks — including Foodlands — which pursue environmental justice at provincial, federal, and global scales.

Find out more on their website.