Sarah Yems

Sarah Yems's latest activity

Learning Together: first JEDI book club report back

The For Our Kids (FOK) Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (JEDI) committee hosted its first virtual book club event on May 28, an initiative to learn together about the interconnectedness of justice, equity and climate action. 

Our first book was Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, exploring Indigenous knowledge, science and plants and animals as our teachers. It also has beautiful lessons on mothering which made it feel particularly relevant to FOK with our interest in how to raise children at this pivotal time in our planet’s history. 

We had a great discussion about the book, how it made each of us feel, what it made us want to do, and provoked some interesting reflections. There were many points that came up that really made me think differently about what I’d read and how I live. In particular, we had a beautiful discussion about what it means to be a homeowner on stolen lands and how that relates to the concept of stewardship. I felt challenged by our discussion to think about my own little patch of land in Tiohti:áke / Mooniyang / Montreal, and how I manage my household. My relationship with our plot has changed now that I identify more as a steward than a property owner. Since then I’ve found myself pulling out the weeds with the loving care of a mother, asking the radish their permission before I pull them out the ground, and taking pride in discussing with others the differences between my very English looking vegetable patch and the three sisters garden I wish I was growing. 

As a recent immigrant to Turtle Island, sometimes I feel incredibly ignorant in discussions about the history of so-called Canada, Indigenous Rights and Reconciliation. This book was helpful as a grounding in Indigenous knowledge, science and relationships with more than human animals. More than that though, the chance to discuss it in a supportive community helped me deepen my understanding of the work, and with that, its impact on me. 

Thanks to everyone that took part in the event and sharing your insights below. I can’t wait to get together again for our next book club! 


Insights shared by participants:  

  2. It’s so important to slow down to watch and regard the world and all its wonders; our kids are key facilitators for us to practice this.  
  3. It’s such a gift to have a reciprocal relationship with the Earth. 
  4. We talked a lot about the concepts of relationship, reciprocity, co-existence, stewardship and the impacts of colonization - both in the world and on our families. Viewing our relationship to the planet differently inspires all sorts of changes to our ways of living and being. 
  5. We need to create time and space for feelings, realizations and reflections to emerge. We don’t need to be addicted to busyness. 
  6. If we viewed the land as a gift and not property, ownership would become stewardship.
  7. Kimmerer is an amazing model for how to practice of co-existence - both with the living world and within different systems/worldviews.  
  8. We can all practice co-existence, patience, thankfulness for all living beings
  9. Sometimes sharing stories over and over again can feel repetitive, but it’s an important spiral of learning; each time an opportunity to learn something new from the story. 
  10. Parents bring important hope, patience and multigenerational thinking to the climate movement.


Sarah is a mother to two young kiddos and a researcher based in Tiotia:ke, the island known as Montreal.

Justice Principles in the For Our Kids network

I joined For Our Kids Montreal last year because I was looking for a local community to join that shared my values of social and environmental justice, and a platform for turning my climate worries into meaningful action.

Soon after joining I was invited to join the then called ‘social justice committee’ for the national network. The committee is comprised of volunteers and representatives from different teams in the network, set up to accelerate bringing social justice more concretely into the heart of what we do.

Since then we’ve met regularly to define our mandate, our goals and the actions we’ll take over the next 12 months and beyond. Over the course of our discussions we came to understand the breadth of the challenge of fighting for climate justice in our actions and what it would mean to really put it front and center. We developed a work plan that we’re proud to share. Today, we’re called the JEDI Accelerator Committee (JEDI stands for Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) and this is what we’ll be working on in the coming 12 months:

1. Raising awareness amongst network supporters and members of our position on climate justice and anti-racist work.

Through changes in the national network's internal and external communications materials, including social media activities, we will make sure that the For Our Kid’s commitment to anti-racism and climate justice is immediately clear.

2. Making sure that our members feel confident talking about climate justice and anti-racism via formal and informal training sessions and discussion groups.

For example hosting our first ever For Our Kids Virtual Book Club this May. The Book Club's book selections aim to bring justice, equity, diversity and inclusion issues related to climate change to the fore. Our first selection is Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer and you're encouraged to join us: find more details and RSVP here.

We also plan on hosting a reading of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action later in the year. This activity aims to familiarize each of us with the actions but also serve as a springboard for discussion on how we can better integrate these actions in our own lives and work.

3. Directly supporting the work of marginalized communities on Turtle Island by supporting specific campaigns. 

For example, supporting Wet'su'weten Land Defenders or helping bring a new Environmental Racism Bill into law. But also by generating our own long-term actions nationally and locally.

4. Ensuring social justice principles are enacted and carried forward over long-term.

We want to make sure that this work becomes embedded in the DNA of For Our Kids. To that end, we’ll be developing a governance framework to carry over into 2023 and beyond.

If you’re keen to hear more or get involved in the work of the JEDI committee please feel free to reach out to us at: [email protected]. Or join a For Our Kids team near you and help these principles take hold in your community.

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