Yolanda Clatworthy


Areas of Focus: Climate Solutions, Democratic Participation, Indigenous Ways of Knowing, Reconciliation and Decolonization
Pronouns: she/her
Email: yolanda_clatworthy@sfu.ca

Yolanda grew up rurally,  has lived and worked across six continents, and is grateful to now call the unceded territory of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) home. 

She is committed to advancing climate justice, and brings to the Centre wide-ranging experiences in advocacy, experiential education, facilitation, creative production and curation, climate governance, guiding and community engagement. Most recently, she comes to the Centre from six years supporting the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre and United Nations to design and scale up Anticipatory Humanitarian Action, building multi-stakeholder proactive approaches to intensifying climate threats. 

‘What can we grow from crisis?’ is a driving question for Yolanda. She sees in wildfire both a reminder of the need to take urgent climate action, as well as an invitation to re-imagine our societies and ecosystems. She is equal parts thrilled and humbled to be joining the Centre on the Mitigating Wildfire Initiative, believing that dialogue offers fertile inroads to advance UNDRIP and move beyond polarization. She looks forward to work that connects people to place, to each other, and towards building more equitable, healthy and vibrant futures. 

Yolanda studied Political Science at McGill University, Environmental Governance at the University of Oxford, Sustainable Futures at Utrecht University, and Leadership and Organizing at Harvard Kennedy School. You can often find her playing in the mountains, forests and waters along the coast with her pup, or churning out wonky ceramics on the pottery wheel.

What is your role at the Centre for Dialogue?

My role is to connect, catalyze and convene. As the Associate Director for the Mitigating Wildfire Initiative, I have been honoured to be a part of shaping this initiative from the ground up and bringing in talented and passionate colleagues, collaborators and governance. 

Together, we are working to address root causes of catastrophic wildfire; we recognize how wildfire amplifies pre-existing inequities and how rural and Indigenous communities face disproportionate impacts. We also see the myriad and growing ways in which wildfire intersects with and impacts all of us across B.C.: through health, culture, ways of knowing, rural economies, livelihoods, watersheds, forests, energy systems, tourism, emotional well being, altered futures and more.

My role is to listen deeply, knit together these experiences and perspectives and create opportunities for impacted communities, rights-holders and solution-seekers to deepen relationships, build a shared understanding of the fundamental paradigm shifts underway and co-create a shared agenda for priorities and pathways forward. Together, we are building a whole of society response in which each of us sees the role and responsibility we can play in creating a transformative future together.

What does dialogue mean to you?

To me, dialogue is relationship realized. It’s a process through which we can transform relationships and commitments to each other. 

I reflect often on Thomas King’s assertion that “the truth about stories is that’s all we are.” In an increasingly polarized world, dialogue is recognizing the richness of the story that we each bring to the table. It’s refusing to diminish the humanity of others and instead welcoming a tapestry of perspectives and contributions. 

I think that dialogue is at its core a simple concept, going back to that base human experience of sitting around a fire or a kitchen table together. But in the context of today’s siloed society, there are few things I can think of that are more profoundly brave, transformative or needed than sitting down with others willing to be vulnerable, to deeply listen, to hash out thorny issue and map pathways forward together.

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