#SFTop25 finalist 2017 - Kevin Liang
Hometown: Coquitlam, British Columbia
Kevin’s passion for the environment started a long time ago. It was fostered by a network of teachers who were environmentally conscious and a family with a love for the outdoors; frequent excursions gave him an appreciation for what nature had to offer, and he was taught to reduce his impact. When he was 6 years old, he fundraised for a wind-powered irrigation system with his elementary school garden club and he was hooked -- an environmentalist was born.
As he grew older and moved on to high school, he noticed a deficit: there was no green club. He was a member of an environmental club in elementary school, so in high school, it felt like something was missing. He needed a way to instill the passion he had found for the environment into his peers. Inspired by his time on the elementary school green team, he founded another green team at his high school.
Kevin saw no reason to stop there though. He needed to show youth beyond his high school the merits and importance of preserving the environment. He felt lucky to have attended an elementary school with teachers who were so in tune with environmental issues. In addition, not everyone had a family who valued nature and its preservation as much as his did, not to mention supportive in his endeavors.
To achieve this goal of spreading awareness, he founded the Green Initiative Canada (GIC) on Earth Day in 2016. Hopefully, this organization would encourage other youth across Canada to follow Kevin’s lead and take leadership roles and start environmental initiatives. Along his journey with GIC, Kevin tells us that it “allowed me to connect with so many people and different stories and shown me how I can be a better activist and advance the cause.”
To achieve progress on environmental issues, it’s important to look towards the future. While the GIC has expanded to many different regions across Canada beyond Kevin’s home province of British Columbia, they are always looking to expand further. Working with like minded individuals through GIC has inspired Kevin, something he wants others to be able to experience. He believes that in addition to this expansion, holding more conferences will give Canadian youth the skills they need to take leadership roles and tackle issues.
Kevin also believes that preserving languages is another step we can take towards conserving the environment because it relates to the preservation of culture. A local issue in this area is the loss of indigenous languages and Kevin has set his sights on supporting efforts to preserving and reviving this culture which is dwindling in its presence. Historically, an important part of first nations cultures was the respect for the environment.
Kevin’s high school Green Team won the People’s Choice Award at the BC Green Games -- twice.
The Green Team fundraised to install a water bottle refilling station at the school, and made money to implement a compost bin system.
A highlight in the GIC journey was the recent LITE 2017 conference, where Kevin was delighted to showcase talented speakers and organized workshops to help youth gain leadership skills.