Rita Steele is a sustainability professional and food systems activist who is passionate about transforming global supply chains into systems that center justice, the environment and support a circular economy. Rita works as Simon Fraser University’s Manager of Campus Sustainability and also works on youth climate engagement and governance with the Global Shapers Vancouver hub. Rita has recently started an online network called the BIPOC Sustainability Collective – a space for BIPOC to connect with each other and seek support through navigating largely white environmentalist spaces on the West Coast.
The BIPOC Sustainability Collective is created for the benefit of BIPOC sustainability professionals in Metro Vancouver. Climate change and environmental degradation disproportionately impact people of colour, yet we are barely represented in the organizations tackling these issues. On the West Coast, many BIPOC sustainability professionals and activists find themselves as the only person of colour in their organizations and battle a system of white environmentalism that leads organizations to think they can do no wrong simply by being “green”. We know that the most effective way to move up in organizations and make meaningful change is to have a network of people supporting us and our work. But, it’s not always possible to find allies within the organizations we work in. This Facebook group is meant to serve as an opportunity for community connection and to fill this network gap many BIPOC sustainability professionals and activists experience in Metro Vancouver.