Kelsey Mech is working hard to divest fossil fuels at the University of Victoria.

 Photo from Kelsey Mech.

Photo from Kelsey Mech.

#5 - KELSEY MECH
HOMETOWN: SALT SPRING ISLAND, BRITISH COLUMBIA

AGE: 22

Kelsey Mech has been an environmentalist from a young age. Travelling by sailboat for five years through Mexico, Central and South America with her parents, Kelsey saw the environmental destruction associated with human actions through witnessing the bleaching of coral and the slashing and burning of rainforests. However, the most pivotal moment from the trip was standing on the beach of the San Blas Islands in Panama when she was 12 years old. Here she met a young indigenous girl, not much younger than her. The two stood on the beach watching the waves slowly erode the sand beneath their feet. In that moment, the girl said to her, in Spanish, “This is my home, my island, they are disappearing. This is because of climate change.” It was then that her life became powerfully influenced, sending Kelsey on her current journey.

Presently, Kelsey is the organizer and communications coordinator for the fossil fuel divestment campaign at the University of Victoria (UVic). The campaign targets UVic, asking the university to “divest their investments in fossil fuels.” So far, the campaign has had 2000 people show support, and over 170 of them have been from faculty members. She has serves as Chair for the UVic Students Society, and she sits on the Board of Directors for the organization R.A.V.E.N, Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs). R.A.V.E.N is an organization based in Victoria that “focuses on providing funds for aboriginals involved in legal battles over land, and treaty negotiations.” Kelsey recently completed her undergraduate degree, a double major in Biology and Environmental Studies.

Some of the challenges she has faced being involved in this kind of works involves “recognizing how truly challenging these issues really are, how it can feel disempowering sometimes as an individual trying to tackle these complex and enormous issues.” On the flip side,  Kelsey loves and appreciates “witnessing communities come together and building from the ground up together. Despite difficulties and obstacles, they persevere.”

Kelsey’s friend and colleague noted her incredible work ethic and dedication to the cause. “Kelsey works incredibly hard to make positive change in the world. She also is deeply committed to caring for herself so that she can enjoy her work and continue to make change in the long term. To me this is an incredibly mature stance: Kelsey knows that she cannot help anyone if she burns out. I’ve tried to integrate this into my life and work for the same outcome as Kelsey.”

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