Meet Julius K. Lindsay, ELN member, Director, Sustainable Communities at the David Suzuki Foundation and co-founder of the Black Environmentalist Alliance. Julius is passionate about equity and climate action and is a man of many hobbies. Learn more about him through our Spotlight Q&A.
My name is… Julius K. Lindsay
I was born in… Toronto, Ontario
And I currently live in… Toronto, Ontario
But my heart is in… Brampton, Ontario (grew up there and it’s the best city in the world, this is a scientific fact).
One of my favourite places in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) is… Can I say Brampton again? But really it would be a toss up between Beach Hill Smokehouse (Best BBQ in the city, and Black owned to boot!) and the Waterfront Trail (love the stretch in Mississauga between Lakefront Promenade in the east and Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens in the west).
One surprising thing about me/little known fact is… I am a huge YA literature and movie fan. Dear Martin, The Hate You Give, The Sun is Also a Star, Simon Vs. The Homosapien Agenda (Love, Simon in movie form), love them all. If Noah Centineo is in a movie, it’s a guaranteed watch.
Issues in our region that keep me up at night are… The intersectionality and interdisciplinary nature of our issues and how our existing siloed approach to addressing challenges is a major barrier to changing things for the better. For example, take equity and climate change. Most climate action work does not meaningfully include equity considerations, and this puts us at risk for creating solutions to move towards a future that only further increase inequities in our society. Electric vehicles are seen as key to our low-carbon future and common practice assumes that those vehicles will be charged at the owner’s home. But what about those who don’t own their home? What about those whose car is their home? How is this solution serving them?
The organizations I work with are… The David Suzuki Foundation as the Director, Sustainable Communities, an organization that through evidence-based research, education and policy analysis, works to conserve and protect the natural environment, and help create a sustainable Canada. I am also a co-founder of the Black Environmentalist Alliance, an organization that seeks to champion black people in the environmental profession, provide a safe space for peer-to-peer engagement to have real conversations and share experiences, and to advocate for the Black community and environmental justice.
Outside of my work/volunteering, some things I love to do are… As mentioned above, read and watch movies. Trashy TV is high on the priority list. I play and coach football. Cooking is something I love, especially on my self-built smoker. I am also an art collector and amateur potter.
The accomplishment I have been most proud of in my work and/or community is… Creating innovative public engagement by merging techniques from various disciplines. In 2018 I worked with a team to create a climate change escape room, that raised participants knowledge of climate change through an experience while at the same time allowed them to contribute to Mississauga’s Climate Change Action Plan development, all while having a lot of fun! In 2021, I worked with a design consultant to use a participatory co-design process to empower community members in Richmond Hill to create a toolkit they could use to engage others around climate change; made by the community for use by the community.
One major lesson I’ve learned along my leadership journey has been… Empathy is key to being a good leader. Understanding, supporting, and taking care of those that are on teams that I am a part of or lead is key to having long term sustained success. The majority of my career success can be attributed to figuring out ways to help those around me thrive both personally and professionally simultaneously. Even as a football coach, which traditionally a hotbed of toxic masculinity, using an empathy-led approach has been a key to the success I have had.
If I could have dinner with anyone, living or deceased, I would choose … My grandmothers (I cheated and picked three! Yes, Three.). I was only able to meet one in my lifetime, and only 3 times before I turned 12. For a number of reasons (including generational trauma and immigration), I have lost a lot of the connection to my history, ancestors, and the land that they most recently occupied, and I would love to regain that through conversations with these women from whom I descend. And who else would be able to give me the real dirt on my parents!