When EOS surveyed the Sackville community, all age groups responded with more confidence in their individual ability to deal with climate change, but less experience working collectively within their community to respond to emergencies or disasters. While generally few respondents had spoken to their neighbours about responding to climate change disasters and emergencies, older respondents were slightly more likely to have discussed these scenarios with neighbours. Preparing and responding to climate change takes teamwork, cooperation and good relationships. Residents, organizations, businesses, and local institutions will need to depend on each other. Improving communication, welcoming newcomers, partnering with Indigenous leaders, and establishing a joint climate change coordinator are all great ways to support communication and benefit from collaboration.
1. Improve communication throughout the community
It is at the community level where we come together during times of crisis. While respondents to the community survey feel strongly that Sackville is resilient and well resourced, connecting people with those resources and with each other is an important action. Sackville is a busy place with a lot going on. Communication infrastructure is central to community climate adaptation and resilience. EOS heard there is a need for better communication between businesses and organizations, better communication with Mount Allison University students, and generally better communication in town.
It was noted that quality communication is necessary to both educate residents about climate change and also to communicate climate threats, actions and opportunities. Some residents find it hard to know where to offer their skills or what organizations need help. The recent loss of the Sackville Tribune-Post has made communication and the sharing of news even more challenging. Not everyone has access to social media, and it can often be laden with inappropriate comments and false information. There are fewer places that will post posters as no one is allowed to linger in entryways during the pandemic. It is harder now than before the pandemic to get information out.
The campus based CHMA radio station (106.9FM) does cover some local news and has a news website: https://www.chmafm.com/welcome/. Recently the Town of Sackville agreed to add a community news and events section to its monthly e- newsletter which has a readership of 480+ local residents. Find the newsletters here: https://sackville.com/monthly-newsletter/. A community subsidized Tantramar region weekly newspaper could be another great idea.
2. Establish a newcomer program
How a community welcomes newcomers says a lot. Establishing a newcomer welcome program could involve community volunteers gathering samples, coupons and/or gift certificates from local businesses, as well as brochures, information and business cards from local organizations and groups. Information and resources addressing climate change impacts could also be included. Volunteers could act as ambassadors for the community, explaining a variety of things and creating connections. Such a program could also be offered to existing residents who feel they have not had the opportunity to fully engage in the community or feel they don’t know enough about the resources available locally.
3. Partner with Indigenous leaders
Indigenous leaders have much to teach communities about resilience and creating collaborative communities. Indigenous voices, such as those from nearby Fort Folly First Nation and others should be elevated in climate action and decision-making. Meaningful partnerships and engagement on climate change projects are needed. Climate resilience work should involve efforts toward reconciliation.
4. Establish a joint climate change/sustainability coordinator
Establishing a joint climate change or sustainability coordinator shared between the Town of Sackville’s municipal government and Mount Allison University is not a new idea. For many years there have been residents who have seen the value in such a position to aid in communication, cooperation and beneficial community-wide actions.
Continue Reading: Citizen Engagement