Kyle Norman takes over the Sustainability Initiative Centre with exciting plans for Lakehead
By: Brady Coyle, Staff Writer
The Student Union has welcomed a new director at Sustainability Initiative (SI), two months into the new school year. It is never easy to hit the ground running when taking over a new job, but Kyle Norman is up for the challenge.
“Usually this position gets filled in April and they start up in August,” says Norman. “I just started last week, so it has been wild.”
The Sustainability Initiative is one of LUSU’s student centres. SI aims to promote social and environmental justice through education, advocacy, and community building on campus and in the lives of our students. By being active in policy work within the university and the student union, incorporating sustainability as a key operational and curriculum focus at Lakehead has become one of the main objectives of the centre. In other words, SI holds Lakehead accountable on ways it can become more sustainable.
SI provides students with information and resources on ways to becoming more sustainable in everyday life, such as cutting down on energy consumption and how to limit food waste. “The Sustainability Initiative is really a far reaching centre,” explains Norman. “We are trying to cover everything from getting the university to divest from fossil fuels to running a campus market so that people have access to good local food.”
It is difficult to summarize the services provided by the SI because it is so wide-ranging. One of the most important parts of the SI is the student voice. Students who have goals of being more sustainable should see the SI as a useful tool. Those who are passionate about protecting our environment and promoting a sustainable lifestyle can spark important change with the help the centre.
“Right now the service being provided to students is a jumping off point to make their ideas on sustainability a reality,” says Norman.
While hoping to help students with their sustainable goals, Norman also wants to ensure that students and locals are thinking about sustainability in the correct way. His goal is for individuals to re-prioritize in order to become more sustainable.
“The way we should view sustainability is that we have a sustainable and healthy environment and that supports healthy social justice,” says Norman, “and then those people can support a healthy economy.”
Norman explains that the three pillars of sustainability are the environment, the people, and the economy. These three pillars work in concentric circles rather than a hierarchical system because, while they should be prioritized, all components are equally important and often work simultaneously.
The biggest problem, in Norman’s mind, is that our priorities as a society are almost always in the wrong order.
“We think that if we have a healthy, booming economy, our trickle down economic system will make sure the people are prosperous,” explains Norman, “and then those people can properly manage the environment and make it function.”
As demonstrated by the ever-growing problem of climate change, our priorities are certainly not in the right order. There are very few places in the world that have sustainable systems in place when it comes to food or energy. Developed countries, such as Canada, are also the primary contributors to the issue of global warming.
So what can we do about it? Well, sustainability must start locally and expand globally. Norman and the SI’s pursuit to hold Lakehead accountable for its fossil fuel consumption and their goal of having local markets are great steps in the right direction.
It is important that we consider the economic implications of our decisions, as well as the effects that will be felt by citizens of the communities. As Norman puts it, it is imperative that when it comes to sustainability, we address all issues.
To stay up to date on the efforts put forth by LUSU’s Sustainability Initiative, you can follow their Facebook page or visit them at SC 0022.