Pride Month spotlight: A chat with Jacquie Shaw

2021-06-22

 |  Making a Difference

The Starfish

Do you know the history of Pride Month? Originated in 1969 to honor the Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, Pride Month has kicked off the Gay Liberation Movement in the US and slowly evolved into the Pride celebrations around the world. It all started with a few thousand marchers at the first Pride march, and now we can see millions of people supporting the Pride movement worldwide.

We had the opportunity to chat with Jacquie Shaw, a queer environmentalist and Indigenous advocate from Bermuda. With their futuristic and strategic foresight intuition, they aim to help advance justice for future generations as a future ancestor and youth leadership in environmental spaces. 

Photo of Jacquie Shaw

Hearing Jacquie’s passion and journey in environmentalism is inspirational. “Nature is queer”, understanding that queerness is not just tied to their sexual orientation or gender identity, but also the way they walk in this work and move through this world. 

What does it look like working in an environmentalism space where you can be your full authentic self?

Specifically working within our Future Ancestors space which I have found to be incredibly welcoming. I can truly show up as my full self, whereas I have to tone down my politics a bit in most jobs. I see my politics as intrinsically tied to my identity, meaning when I have to tone down my politics, I also have to tone down parts of my identity. As a queer and racialized person, my identity automatically gets politicized. To be in a space where that is not happening, I feel like I am more available to explore what I can give and offer. Not having to worry about my safety, identity, and others’ acceptance allows me to do the work and engage in the work more authentically.

Working with folks at Future Ancestors who have a more profound background in formal environmental studies and formal environmentalism work was a fantastic experience. They inspired me to tie all the work I have done in my life together. We all inspire each other, but Larissa is such an inspiration in radical transparency to me. I try to practice that where possible and safe because it’s also a marginalized identity, so sometimes we do have to keep parts of ourselves. 

Are there any messages that you would want to share with youth environmentalists of the LGBTQ2S+ community?

There are ideas about what it means to be in an activist space, be an environmentalist, follow rules, and do things in a certain way. I find that allowing my understanding of queerness, which is not just tied to my sexual orientation or my gender identity but also to how I want to walk in this work and move through this world. Recognizing that this is part of nature, the environment, and what we do the work for. The phrase “nature is queer” is so stuck in my head right now. For youth to find out what that means to them can be an obscure question.

Youth leadership, I have a futures background, and I work for Future Ancestors, but my formalized training is in futures work and strategic foresight. I really think about timescales and the work that advances justice for future generations as a future ancestor and youth leadership, especially in environmental spaces – “progressive zones”. We’re doing this work to see the progressions happen in our lifetime. It could happen late in our lifetime if we are privileged to age to see it happen. You know a lot of work in leadership sees older folks as “more experienced”, more wisdom, and more guidance. Not that the work we leave behind for future generations is not worthy, but that urgency doesn’t feel like it’s as realized. You know children are the future, and youth leadership is important because we are doing it for both the present and the future. 

Things have changed so rapidly. We’re in this era of incredible rapid change, be that for the better or the worse. The futurist part of my brain sees that as an indicator of what we are capable of doing. 

Anything else you want to share?

Growing up in Bermuda, I never learned how to camp or do outdoor activities other than boating. My current goal is to gain those outdoor skills and knowledge to help more frontline work at Fairy Creek blockades or territories that have a lot of pipeline movements right now, especially in BC. I moved back to the west coast because I care about the work out there in BC. I feel a connection to the Pacific ocean and the people that are fighting for their land. Frontline work isn’t going away anytime soon so I will need to utilize the time to build up those outdoor skills before supporting my peers. 

Jacquie Shaw is an Alchemist at Future Ancestors Services Inc., an Indigenous and Black-owned, youth-led professional services social enterprise that advances climate justice and equity with a lens of anti-racism and ancestral accountability.