YCAT Canada Spotlight
In September 2021, Youth Climate Action Team Inc. (YCAT) expanded its impressive organization by setting up multiple international branches in Canada, Uganda, India, Germany, and Jordan. One of the first branches established was YCAT Canada, or CYCAT, in coordination with the Global Affairs Committee. Mia Kohn, the director and founder of CYCAT, discovered the parent organization through its Instagram presence and immediately found herself immersed in its community and culture. However, as she became more involved, she realized that many of the projects that worked in the U.S. did not make as big a difference in Canada’s environmental crisis because of the fundamental distinctions between the two countries. This led her to create CYCAT, alongside its current director of operations Brian Lau.
The CYCAT branch is headed by the executive director and the directors of operations, human resources & advancement, public relations, and social media. Each director works personally with three to five associates who are delegated most of the work, and volunteers work underneath them to help complete these tasks. Overall, each committee works closely with the others, and the work is rarely isolated to one group. According to Kohn, “We have more of a focus on small, united teams rather than these massive ones because we just found that we can be a lot more efficient when everyone on our team is someone we know personally and can work with but I am sure that will change as we grow.”
In the past, CYCAT has mainly focused on growing its branch and, within just four months, has accumulated almost 50 volunteers. Currently, they are working on their first major event where the focus is to bring attention to the impact the Trans Mountain pipeline has on the indigenous communities in Canada. Indigenous rights are highly contested in Canada because many of these groups do not have access to clean water. CYCAT’s goal is to partner with indigenous youths and give them a platform to voice their concerns and to educate others on the best way to take action. By collaborating with local schools and environmental organizations, CYCAT hopes to assemble a panel of student trustees, entrepreneurs, and professors in order to offer a multitude of perspectives on the indigenous rights issue.
When asked about the legacy they want to leave at CYCAT, Kohn and Lau both stressed their hope for increased youth involvement in Canada. Their goal is to establish a relationship with Canadian politicians and urge them to make a pledge to support climate action in exchange for the people’s vote. Furthermore, they wish to encourage youths to support sustainable decision-making and leadership in politicians. With regards to his role at CYCAT in the future, Lau stated, “I would like to step back and let more people in the younger generations experience leadership roles. I would like to keep true to our name: youth.” He concluded that he would like to allow future activists to flourish in their roles as leaders while always being there to lend a hand.