#1 - GRAHAM MAY
HOMETOWN: Powell River, British Columbia
Ask most undergrads what they have been up to in the past year and you are likely to hear stories about crazy nights at the bar or epic study sessions. If you pin-down a real go-getter you might learn about their involvement in community groups promoting causes they believe in. Ask the same question of Graham May, The Starfish Canada’s number one environmentalist under the age of 25, and your jaw will punch a hole through to your downstairs neighbour’s living room.
Since last year, Graham has interned with the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, DC; he has continued his work with the Youth Arctic Coalition (YAC)(which he co-founded and directed in 2013 and 2014); he has joined the board of directors for the Sierra Club of Canada; chaired the Mount Allison Environmental Issues Committee; worked on the steering committee for the New Brunswick Environmental Network; and he volunteered in the riding office of BC NDP MP Nathan Cullen opposing the Northern Gateway Pipeline. That's just the stuff he accomplished from behind a desk.
Graham’s work on the ground has taken things to another level. Last year he rode his bike from Vancouver, B.C. to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories to host a series of climate change workshops for youth in remote communities. Between this ride and two other, his work raised over $11,000 for youth-led environmental projects, engaged over 1,800 young leaders and burned through 34 jars of peanut butter.
Graham has continued to work with the organization he helped create, the YAC. The work the YAC has done in the far north has helped create a circumpolar forum for young leaders to engage in cooperative projects and influence Arctic governance. The initiatives this group has been involved with underscore the fragility and global importance of Arctic environments and have included recent projects about a community’s right to refuse unsustainable resource development projects.
Graham also spent two months on a sailboat moving between Nunavut and Greenland to interview community leaders about the barriers and opportunities to sustainable development that exist in their regions. This research, which will form the basis of Graham’s undergraduate thesis, focused on issues around the management of resources recently made accessible through the retreat of glaciers and sea ice. More information about this work and the policy briefs it has helped create can be found at: https://umiungupaa.wordpress.com.
All of this seems to beg the question “How many months are there in a year in Graham May’s life?” He stands as an incredible example of the influence that one person can have when they set their minds to something, and that is what lies at the heart of the entire Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 project. It is for his embodiment of environmental values, his boundless motivation and his commitment to a better future that The Starfish Canada is pleased to name Graham May our top young environmentalist in 2015. Congratulations Graham, and keep fighting the good fight.
The Starfish Canada's Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 Magazine showcases the 25 finalists from 2015 with longer articles, new pictures, and captivating stories from across Canada. All proceeds directly fund The Starfish Canada's programming to assist youth in understanding and amplifying the environmental issues they're most passionate about.