Ryann | She/Her
Temperate Broadleaf and Mixed Forests
Session 4: January 30, 2023
When I was about nine years old, I was walking past a department store on a main street in my city, and there was a protest taking place just outside. At the time, I didn’t even know what a protest was, but looking back now, that’s exactly what was happening.
I was a very curious nine-year-old, so I crossed the street with my mother, and I approached the protesters. They were protesting a brand being sold at the department store that was using animals for their fur trims on their jackets, and they gave me a flyer when I approached them and asked for one. As I walked away, I took a look at that flyer. I was shocked, because it detailed the fur industry—an entirely new concept to me. And it was from that experience that I went on to learn about a variety of other animal rights issues.
That experience… it sat with me for so long, and it still does. It is the catalyst of all that I do. I was immediately motivated to get involved.
Now you may be asking yourself, how does this relate to climate?
Well, during the pandemic—as I think a lot of us did—I had time to sit down and explore what mattered to me, and it was through this time that I had the chance to learn about the connection between animals and the climate. I realized just how interconnected everything is, and how we can’t afford to look at these issues separately. From there, I started getting involved in the climate movement: I began diving deep into advocacy, attending negotiations like the 2022 United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Montreal last month, and more.
Everything that I do in the climate space stems from that one experience. It deepened my connection with the living creatures on this earth and just made me realize how interconnected we all are with each other. We cannot see ourselves as separate. We must see ourselves as connected with nature, with animals, with everything around us. And I think that experience I had as a child has just reinforced that perspective and allowed me to understand how important this mindset is. Even now, when I attend these conferences, when I do the work that I do, what’s at the back of my head always is how important it is to see ourselves, not apart from nature, but a part of nature.
Ryann is a youth animal and climate advocate, research assistant, and high school student from Toronto, Canada. She has advised companies and organizations on sustainability and youth inclusion, has attended COP15 as a delegate, and has spoken with parliamentarians regarding addressing animal agriculture’s connection to climate change.