Aamjiwnaang's Vanessa Gray: an advocate and steward for environmental health.

Photo from Vanessa Gray.

Photo from Vanessa Gray.

#3 - VANESSA GRAY
HOMETOWN: AAMJIWNANG FIRST NATIONS, ONTARIO

AGE: 21

She is an advocate and steward of environmental health for her community, Aamjiwnang First Nations (Anishnaabe territory). She takes every chance to talk about the environmental crisis that exists within her neighborhood and surrounding areas, using a multitude of strategies to achieve change. She is a passionate leader, an inspirational educator, and a fearless pillar for her community. She is 21 year old Vanessa Gray, the third place holder of our Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 for 2014.

Back in 2009, Vanessa founded the environmental youth group “Aamjiwnaang Green Teens” to bring environmental awareness and education to her community. The group used creative artistic expressions to share their stories about life in Chemical Valley. One of their projects was a photographical showcase called ‘Photo-Voice’, where youth took pictures of what it truly meant to live in a destroyed environment. This project allowed youth to voice their views about living in an unhealthy environment in a healthy fashion. They also produced a documentary called Indian Givers, which "invites the audience on a journey with the characters by stepping into their lives as they reveal the survival of their spiritual identities in today's world.”

Photo from Vanessa Gray.

Photo from Vanessa Gray.

In 2012, she co-founded ASAP (Aamjiwnaang + Sarnia Against Pipelines) which campaigns against Enbridge's Line 9 pipeline. To engage and educate others about the impact that pipelines have on Aamjiwnaang, Vanessa co-organizes an annual conference in the community. Last year, the highlight of the conference was a 'Toxic Tour' where people could see the severity of local pollution caused by the refineries. As part of the campaign against Line 9, Vanessa has spoken at several conferences, including PowerShift Atlantic, The Tar Sands Reality Check Tour, and Global Youth Day.

Her nominator says that her “passion, strength, commitment, and bravery is immediately evident” and that she and many others find “endless inspiration and hope from Vanessa's dedication to her community, her concern for future generations, and her commitment to environmental justice and sustainability.”  Congratulations Vanessa Gray for placing number three on our 2014 list of Top 25 Environmentalists under 25!

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Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 2014 Magazine
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The Starfish Canada's Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 Magazine showcases the 25 finalists from 2014 with longer articles, new pictures, and captivating stories from across Canada.

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To read more about Vanessa and the other Top 25 finalists, visit our store to pre-order our Top 25 magazine!  All proceeds go towards the Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 program.