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The Green Career Centre’s Journey to Equity in the Green Economy

Jacqueline O'Neill Huerta

Jacqueline O'Neill Huerta

CSI Member FES works to empower youth for a more inclusive, fair, prosperous, and sustainable future, including through their The Youth Harbour initiative. CSI partnered with The Youth Harbour to offer a Climate ShareSpace, which provides a centralized location for cocreating, convening, and resource sharing among youth climate and social justice activists. Here, we’re sharing the stories of a few Climate ShareSpace members and how their work is helping us to build a people and planet first world. Check out this story and more from The Youth Harbour here!

Written by Riipen intern: Jacqueline O’Neill Huerta
In partnership with: The Youth Harbour

Lauren Castelino, an environmentalist, entrepreneur, researcher, and activist, shares her journey founding the Green Career Centre* in 2018.

“I started the Green Career Centre six years ago after I graduated from high school. I wanted to combine my interests in the environment, entrepreneurship, and youth empowerment to create something that others could join to tackle the issues that I was passionate about solving. We were quite different back then; we had a different name and focus, but we quickly evolved over time,” Lauren explained.

Funded by her university’s research and experiential education offices, Lauren conducted webinars, focus groups, and interviews to gather insights. Her efforts culminated in a policy brief presented to policymakers at Natural Resources Canada, advocating for the inclusion of underrepresented youth in employment programs.

“I was so happy to see that my recommendation on lifting the cap on the number of hours that international students were restricted to working was eventually temporarily lifted for two years. I felt like my advocacy efforts paid off, and due to overwhelming demand for more equity-seeking youth wanting to land a green job, the Green Career Centre was born,” Lauren shared.

A group of people sit on the floor of a lounge at CSI Spadina. There are two perpendicular blue couches behind part of the group. Most people in the group are raising their hands.

 

The Green Career Centre stands out for several reasons, including its emphasis on consultation with the communities it serves. Through focus groups and consultations, particularly with BIPOC individuals, women, and newcomers, the organization ensures its initiatives are responsive and representative. Their team composition reflects this commitment, with 89% BIPOC and 78% women representation.

“Everything that we do and develop is done in direct consultation with the communities that we represent and serve. Whenever there’s an issue that we want to tackle, we always start by hosting focus groups and consultations with impacted communities, specifically equity-seeking communities—young Black, Indigenous and People of Colour, women, and newcomers,” Lauren explained.

Action-oriented and centralized in its approach, the Green Career Centre prioritizes events and resources that are accessible and impactful. Their Youth Green Jobs Network job board, research publications, and workshops have garnered significant engagement, with over 1500 attendees at events and workshops.

An annual Green Career Fair, supported by The Youth Harbour Action Grant, has been a major achievement, attracting over 550 participants. The organization’s resources, such as the Wage Subsidy Matching Tool and Green Equity Guide for Employers, aim to promote inclusivity and equity in the sustainability sector.

“Thanks to [The Youth Harbour’s] flexibility and accessibility as a youth-led organization, they supported our development of various green job resources as well as several research projects, including one that focuses on the federal government’s Sustainable Jobs Plan,” Lauren shared.

Through its innovative approach and community-centered ethos, the Green Career Centre continues to empower marginalized youth and advance equity in the green economy.

They are also active members part of the Youth Harbour’s Climate ShareSpace program at the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI): “We are very grateful to Climate ShareSpace for allowing our team to have the opportunity to convene in person to actively work on our mission of preparing underrepresented youth for green careers. CSI’s space has allowed our team to access vital services that our members cannot access at home such as high-speed internet; the environment is very social with a variety of community events such as the salad club that we’ve happily participated in,” Lauren shared.

*The Green Career Centre is based in Tkaronto which is covered under Treaty 13, and they acknowledge that this is the traditional  territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa and the Haudenosaunee and Wendat peoples.

Six people stand together in a semicircle, and each person has put one of their hands into the center of the circle.

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CSI Member FES works to empower youth for a more inclusive, fair, prosperous, and sustainable future, including through their The Youth Harbour initiative. CSI partnered with The Youth Harbour to offer a Climate ShareSpace, which provides a centralized location for cocreating, convening, and resource sharing among youth climate and social justice activists.
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CSI Member FES works to empower youth for a more inclusive, fair, prosperous, and sustainable future, including through their The Youth Harbour initiative. CSI partnered with The Youth Harbour to offer a Climate ShareSpace, which provides a centralized location for cocreating, convening, and resource sharing among youth climate and social justice activists.
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