On September 26, 2023, Patricia Wilson of Diverse Nature Collective
(a BIPOC-led organization dedicated to creating space for conservation-minded folks to help empower and mobilize diverse voices) joined Ms. Brown’s Grade 11 Gender Studies class and Grade 12 Equity and Social Justice class. Her visit centred around discussions about gender, race and the environmental justice movement.
“Having worked within the environmental non-profit sector for 6 years, Patricia has filled a variety of roles and has experience in ecological restoration, land stewardship and invasive species management, trail development and community outreach. She also holds a BSc from Trent University in Conservation Biology as well as a diploma in Ecosystem Management from Fleming College.” (Diverse Nature Collective, 2023
In preparation for Patricia’s visit, Ms. Brown’s Grade 12 Equity class read and reflected upon Kimberle Crenshaw’s concept of intersectionality. In the week leading up to the workshop, students also read articles about identity groups and familiarized themselves with the terms used in Equity and Social Justice work.
Her Gender Studies class also read about intersectionality and completed a privilege checklist prior to Patricia’s visit to help them learn more about privilege and oppressive systems within organizations.
During the workshops, our students were profoundly moved and inspired. Ava '25, from our Equity and Social Justice class, shared her reflections, highlighting how Patricia's unique journey within the environmental industry resonated deeply. Ava was particularly struck by Patricia's openness, honesty, and passion for her work. Patricia's discussion on complex topics like "neurodivergence" and the impact of single-parent households opened avenues for profound self-reflection. Ava's newfound understanding emphasized the value of diverse identities and the importance of empathy and respect in our community.
Similarly, a student from the Gender Studies class reflected on the transformative experience of understanding intersectionality. The lesson expanded their awareness of how identities intersect. This newfound insight has ignited a commitment to integrate these concepts into their personal and school life, fostering a safer and more inclusive environment for everyone.
“My classes loved the workshops. Their feedback has been uniformly affirming of Patricia's approach to the discussion of identity groupings as well as the intersectionality of race, gender and environmental justice.” - Ms. Brown
Thank you, Patricia, for speaking with our students and sharing your knowledge and expertise!
When asked to share a written reflection from the workshops, students eagerly wrote about their insights from Patricia’s discussion.
Equity and Social Justice
During Patricia Wilson's presentation today, I was amazed by her story of not fitting into the environmental industry due to her unique background and culture. From learning this I am inspired to be more open and willing to start a business with the aspect of making sure everyone is included and feels welcome. Patricia Wilson’s openness, honesty, attentiveness, and love for what she does left a strong impression on me, and I aim to incorporate these qualities into my daily life from now on. Patricia mentioned the term "neurodivergent," which I found intriguing and plan to research further to understand how people can be affected by this and others don’t even know about it. Patricia's discussion on the impact of living in a single-parent household made me consider exploring more about how your identity can be affected throughout your life. There was a significant shift in my thinking during this class, as I realized the complexity of identity and the importance of respecting a variety of perspectives. From this discussion, I have a new appreciation for the diverse identities people hold and the value of understanding and respecting these identities.
During a class discussion around the ideas of gender, race, and the environmental justice movement with Patricia Wilson, a member of the Diverse Nature Collective organization, I learned a lot about the concept of intersectionality. Prior to this lesson, I was not very familiar with this term, and I never thought of the way a person's identities intersect with each other, creating a complex Individual. This newfound understanding of intersectionality has made me much more aware of the importance of constantly considering how this affects the lives of myself and others around me. Not only has this experience of getting to talk to an environmental justice professional whose work specifically addressed the gendered and racial issues, helped me to understand new concepts around social justice issues, but it has also got me thinking about how I could try to incorporate these ideas into my own school and personal life to create a safer and more inclusive community. I really do believe that after today's lesson, I left feeling more informed, educated, and emphatic towards issues around people's identities affecting the way they are treated. By the end of this class, I was honestly feeling a sense of overwhelming awe due to all the wisdom and amazing points that Patricia shared about intersectionality, and I feel very grateful to have been able to be a part of this amazing discussion.