Larissa is a restorative circle keeper, published Indigenous and anti-racism researcher, award-winning ribbon skirt artist, and proudly passes on Métis and Jamaican ancestry to her daughter, Zyra. She is the Founder of Future Ancestors Services, a youth-led professional services social enterprise that advances equity and climate justice through lenses of ancestral accountability and anti-racism. Larissa is a CohortX Climate Justice Fellow, a Raven Trust Capital Fireweed Fellow, Action Canada Fellow, and a 2019 Corporate Knight’s Top 30 Under 30 in Sustainability.
Pollution Probe’s annual gala is an opportunity to celebrate our work and show our appreciation to our passionate and dedicated supporters who share and help advance our vision of a clean and healthy environment for all Canadians.
Last year, to commemorate our 50th Anniversary, Pollution Probe’s annual Gala featured, for the first time, a pre-Gala conference dedicated to developing a collective vision for environmental action in Canada out to 2050. One of the most striking aspects of the conference was the extent to which it highlighted the many ways in which pollution and climate change disproportionately affect the vulnerable and marginalized. This year’s Conference and Gala focused on how we, as a community dedicated to the protection of the environment, can work together to ensure that equity and social justice become fundamental elements of sustainable development. All Canadians should be able to participate in, and benefit from, a healthy environment and the creation of a sustainable, low-carbon society in Canada.
Drawing on diverse perspectives on the issue of equitable access to clean water and clean air, exploring the role inequity plays in putting some communities at greater risk to the impacts of pollution and climate change.
Michael Jacobs – CEO, CIPS (Cambium Indigenous Professional Services) Inc.
Michael is a member of the Curve Lake First Nation and brings a unique leadership profile to the CIPS team. Michael’s specialty is management consulting and community engagement for First Nation communities and projects. Michael has worked on multiple energy projects as well as projects in health, economic development, infrastructure development, governance, housing and environmental stewardship. Michael is a confident project manager and works seamlessly with First Nation leadership, staff and community members. Michael’s unique ability to translate the needs of all stakeholders into a language that is understood and relevant to a variety of audiences ensures that communications and information exchanges have value to all participants.
Dr. Anna Banerji – Faculty Lead, Indigenous and Refugee Health, Post MD Education, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
Dr Anna Banerji (O.Ont MD MPH FRCPC DTM&H CTropMed) is an associate professor in pediatrics and at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and is a pediatric infectious and tropical disease specialist.
She graduated from medical school at the University of Toronto and trained at Ottawa University (pediatrics), McGill University (infectious disease and tropical medicine). She received an MPH in International Health from Harvard School of Public Health where she was selected “promising graduate” for the class of 2003.
Dr. Banerji has been working with refugees for most of her career. She founded the Canadian Refugee Health Conference in 2009 and is the co-founder of the North American Refugee Health Conference (NARHC) which she chairs in alternative years in Toronto. She is also the co-founder and president of the North American Society of Refugee Healthcare Providers. In 2014 she created the COSTI Pediatric Clinic where she screens most of the government assisted refugee (GARS) children coming to Toronto. In 2016 she set up a clinic at a hotel in response to the mass resettlement of Syrian refugees and screened over 700 Syrian refugee children.
In 2014 Dr. Banerji created the inaugural Indigenous Health Conference which she continues to co-chair. She has travelled to numerous Indigenous communities across Canada in various capacities and has been to the Arctic over 50 times. Her research on lower respiratory infections in Inuit children has spanned over 25 years and has resulted in changes to the national guidelines for the prevention of RSV. Recently Dr. Banerji has been successful in advocating for more resources for Indigenous communities to fight COVID-19 through petitions.
Dr. Banerji has travelled extensively around the world including work in Haiti after the earthquake with the Canadian Red Cross. She uses a human rights framework for her work, research and education and is an advocate for both Indigenous and refugee populations. She has given hundreds of media interviews mostly advocating for health equity. She has won several awards including the Order of Ontario in 2012, and in 2019 she was the recipient of the Dr. Peter Henderson Bryce Award for her advocacy with Indigenous children.
Dr. Heather Castleden – Canada Research Chair in Reconciling Relations for Health, Environments, and Communities, Queen’s University
Dr. Heather Castleden is a (white) settler guest and scholar on traditional Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee territory at Queen’s University where she is a Canada Research Chair in Reconciling Relations for Health, Environments and Communities.
She is grateful to be able to live and work here, raise her family, and appreciate the beauty of the land and water around her. She acknowledges that this has only been made possible by the earlier settler colonization of her European ancestors, and the ongoing settler colonial state currently known as Canada.
In light of this acknowledgement, she has spent her academic career as a geographer working at the theoretical, methodological, and empirical nexus of power and resistance, relationships to place, and moral/ethical accountability. Her research is community-based and participatory, in partnerships with Indigenous peoples, communities, organizations, and governments on topics important to them, focusing on the politics of knowledge production in environment and health justice.
- Canada Research Chair in Reconciling Relations for Health, Environments, and Communities
- Fulbright Scholar in Social Sciences (2020-2021) at the University of Hawai’i at Mañoa
- Research Director, Health Environments and Communities (HEC) Research Lab
- Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Planning, Queen’s University
- Graduate Chair, Department of Gender Studies, Queen’s University
Kerry Ann Charles – Environment Partnership Co-ordinator, Cambium Indigenous Professional Services
Kerry-Ann Charles is a Member of the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation and the Environmental Partnership Co-ordinator for Cambium Indigenous Professional Services (CIPS). She is proud to have been able to serve her Community for over 17 years working in various capacities such as by-law development and implementation, waste management, housing, environmental project co-ordination and management as well as serving a term on Council. Over the past decade Kerry-Ann has dedicated herself to learning about and up-holding her responsibility as an Indigenous person to protect and preserve mother earth and at the same time dedicated herself to sharing this knowledge to ensure equity, sustainability and balance for future generations. As a result of this work, she has gained International recognition and has been asked to speak across Canada, the US and Mexico on the importance of including the indigenous perspectives when pursuing efforts relating to the environment and climate change. Kerry Ann’s wide range of career experiences gives her a unique perspective that can be very valuable when assisting other communities and organizations wishing to find their balance of operations and environmental stewardship.
Ana Gonzalez Guerrero – Co-founder and Managing Director, Youth Climate Lab
Driven by the need to create a more just and inclusive transition towards a sustainable future, Ana has been working on climate change issues for over 13 years, focusing on sustainable local economic development and the empowerment of diverse actors such as young people, women and girls.
As Co-Founder and Managing Director at the Youth Climate Lab, Ana leads the operations of the organization, developing and implementing resources needed to accelerate our impact by empowering youth in climate entrepreneurship and policy.
Ana also leads an Innovation Fund through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Partnership for Municipal Innovation in Local Economic Development. This fund provides small-scale granting for innovative solutions that benefit communities, with a particular focus on women and youth, across six countries.
Prior to her current roles, Ana worked with the Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program, supporting over 340 local governments in their efforts to take action on climate change across Canada. She was also a long-time volunteer with Green Economy Canada and Sustainable Waterloo Region where she became passionate about community-led action, and the need to connect those efforts to national and international policy levels.
Exploring issues of representation in the development of strategies to address climate change and other environmental concerns to ensure that all groups have input into the design and implementation of potential solutions. This panel also discusses inequities in access to clean energy and clean transportation across Canada, particularly in Indigenous and remote communities.
Chris Henderson, Executive Director, Indigenous Clean Energy and Chair, GLOBE Series
Chris Henderson is a Canadian eco-entrepreneur, community leader and environmental innovator. For the past 35 years, he has led and been at the forefront of ground-breaking Canadian enterprises and local/national business, social and ecological initiatives which have global impact and resonance.
Chris is a trusted and insightful commentator on economic, environment and energy issues that respect the Planet, and generate enduring outcomes for corporations, communities and Canada. Chris prime current role in advising and equipping Indigenous peoples and communities to develop and own clean energy projects to catalyze social development, economic opportunity and to combat Climate Change. His first book Aboriginal Power was published in 2013.
Chris is the President of Lumos Energy, Executive Director of the Indigenous Clean Energy Social Enterprise, Founder of The Delphi Group and Board Chair of the Globe Series.
Sam Arons – Director of Sustainability, Lyft
Sam joined Lyft in 2018 as the Director of Sustainability, where he oversees Lyft’s sustainability and climate impact efforts.
Lyft was one of the first companies to join former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “We Are Still In” movement to pledge its commitment to the Paris Climate Accord. Most recently in June 2020, Lyft made an industry-leading commitment to reach 100% electric vehicles on the Lyft platform by 2030.
Prior to Lyft, Sam spent 10 years at Google as Senior Lead for Energy & Infrastructure, where he co-led Google’s achievement of 100% renewable energy in 2017, making Google the largest non-utility purchaser of renewable energy on the planet to-date with over 3 GW of wind & solar energy under contract.
Before Google, Sam earned a BA in Physics from Williams College and an MS in Energy and Resources from UC Berkeley, where his research focused on wind energy and plug-in vehicles, respectively. Further details are available at linkedin.com/in/sarons.
Dr. Runa Das – Assistant Professor, Royal Roads University
Dr. Runa Das is an assistant professor in the College of Interdisciplinary Studies at Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC. Her research centers on sustainability issues with a particular focus on energy-related topics including the human dimensions and determinants of energy use, energy poverty, and energy transitions. She asks questions like: Why do we use energy the way we do? Is there fair and equal access to energy in society? And what does a just energy transition look like?
Armi De Francia – Active Transportation Coordinator, Town of Ajax
Armi is an active transportation planning professional who strives to help more communities receive the benefits of active transportation through community engagement, capacity building, and collaboration. Currently, she is the Active Transportation Coordinator at the Town of Ajax where she is transforming the Town’s transportation awareness campaign, Active and Safe Routes to School campaign, and overall engagement methods using techniques in inclusive engagement, modern marketing, and evidence-based behavioural change. Outside of Ajax, Armi is the founder of Transportation Equity Toronto: a volunteer-led initiative that develops and implements programs for raising awareness on mobility equity through an intersectional lens. Recently, she received the 2020 Public Sector Professional of the Year award by the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals.
AJ Esquega – Mashkawiziiwin Energy Projects Coordinator, Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek – Gull Bay First Nation
AJ Esquega comes from Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek – Gull Bay First Nation (KZA), an Ojibwe Community on the Western Shoreline of Lake Nipigon in Northwestern Ontario – 2 hours North of Thunder Bay. AJ is a former Councillor of Gull Bay First Nation who now serves as the Community’s Mashkawiziiwin Energy Projects Coordinator; the official liaison between the Chief and Council, Citizens, Industry partners and companies in his first major project – The Giizis Energy Solar Storage Micro Grid Project! Canada’s FIRST fully integrated remote renewable energy storage micro grid.
Meaghon Reid, Executive Director, Vibrant Calgary
Meaghon Reid started as the Executive Director of Vibrant Communities Calgary in September, 2019, bringing a diverse range of experience in organizational leadership, advocacy, collective impact initiatives and policy change. Prior to working at VCC, Meaghon was the Executive Director of the Brenda Strafford Centre, the largest second stage domestic violence shelter in the province, where she experienced firsthand how the critical work being undertaken under the Enough for All Strategy has positively impacted the lives of people experiencing poverty. Before moving to Calgary, Meaghon was the Associate Vice President at the National Council for Behavioral Health in Washington, DC where she led the expansion of the Mental Health First Aid USA Program. Meaghon also worked as the Director of the Mental Health First Aid program at the Mental Health Commission in Ottawa, Ontario. Meaghon is a proud graduate of Memorial University of Newfoundland where she studied economics and political science.