In the final episode of our summer series, climate justice organizer and activist Aliya Hirji and National Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students, Mari Dolcetti-Koros, discuss the global climate crisis, its impacts on our younger populations and the ways in which youth are organizing and taking leadership in securing a truly just and sustainable world for us all.

In speaking to the need for youth leadership, Hirji says: 

“I think I hear a lot from world leaders, the phrase like “young people are leaders of the future,” but the truth is that we are the leaders of right now. There’s so much on every scale – local, national, international – so much of this climate action and this ambition and real progressive ideas that are coming from young people. I think young people have an insane amount of optimism and passion and drive that you may not see from other generations … I think that our optimism and our outlook on life is really unique. And because we have so much of our lives ahead of us, well, hopefully ahead of us, that’s going to be affected by the climate crisis, I think that we take it very seriously and that we are incredibly motivated to do something about this. And given that young people are going to be incredibly affected by the climate crisis, .. people of color, marginalized communities – I think that leadership needs to be held by the most affected people.”

Connecting a just transition to student debt, Dolcetti-Koros says, 

“I think it’s really important to acknowledge that the reality of the exorbitant cost of tuition in Canada right now, and the student debt crisis, which is in the billions of dollars just in federal debt, is very much tied to a form of classism. And when we’re imagining and building a world beyond capitalism, we really need to take stock and evaluate and I would say democratize the access to knowledge and evaluate different forms of knowledges that have been subjugated; particularly Indigenous knowledges. I think a lot of folks are doing this work. A lot of scholars are doing this work. And there are lots of avenues or bridges to explore when thinking about how we evaluate our education system and how we can imagine a different, better, stronger one that is a pillar of a just and livable future.”

About today’s guests:

Aliya Hirji is a 17-year-old Indian-Canadian woman and climate justice activist in pursuit of a socially inclusive response to the climate crisis. She often works in the climate divestment movement, challenging individuals, governments, banks, and more to divest from fossil fuels. She is very passionate about ensuring the climate justice movement is anti-racist, anti-patriarchal and anti-colonial. In 2021, Aliya was recognized by Corporate Knights as one of Canada’s Top 30 Under 30 Sustainability Leaders. She is about to start a dual arts degree with Sciences PO and UBC, where she wants to study Politics and Environmental Sustainability. Aliya is also working with Banking on a Better Future.

Marie Dolcetti-Koros is the National Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students, back with the Federation after completing a first term as National Treasurer. Marie studied Contemporary Philosophy and Political Science in Halifax, starting in the student movement with the King’s Students Union. One of her first experiences of student organizing was taking over the lobby of the main administrative building on campus with Divest Dal. Marie finds energy and strength in knowing that young people are an integral part of shaping a just and livable future. She firmly believes that education is a public good and that free and accessible education for all is possible.

Transcript of this episode can be accessed at or here.

Images: Aliya Hirji (photographer, Joshua Best) and Marie Dolcetti-Koros  / Used with permission. 

Music: Ang Kahora. Lynne, Bjorn. Rights Purchased

Intro Voices: Chandra Budhu (Podcast Announcer), Nayocka Allen, Nicolas Echeverri Parra, Doreen Kajumba (Street Voices); Bob Luker (Tommy Douglas quote)

Courage My Friends Podcast Organizing Committee: Resh Budhu, Breanne Doyle (for, Chandra Budhu and Ashley Booth. 

Produced by: Resh Budhu, Tommy Douglas Institute and Breanne Doyle,

Host: Resh Budhu

Needs No Introduction

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