Convocation, Resource and Environmental Management, Students

Environment alumnus dedicates research and career towards climate action and social justice

October 07, 2022

After completing a bachelor of arts degree in global development and environmental studies at Queen’s University, masters of resource and environmental management alumnus Maya Molander was ready to move back to the west coast, unwind, travel, and begin the next chapter of her life. Grad school, she says, was not on her radar.

It could be that she’d spent too much time away from academia, or because she felt frustrated with ongoing mismanagement of natural resources, but four years later she found herself applying for the masters of resource management program at SFU.

Maya says she was ready to advance her career and begin dedicating it towards meaningful change. “As someone who has always had a passion for climate action and social justice, I was drawn to the REM Planning Program’s vision of supporting a socially just and ecologically sustainable world,” she says.

Maya’s research project, titled “Renewables and Reconciliation: Decolonizing climate policies for a just transition to a low carbon future”, unpacks the misalignment between the province’s climate policies and its commitments to reconciliation. It explores the meaning of a “just” transition to low-carbon, and the ways Indigenous clean energy projects can provide a promising path to addressing both commitments.

As a grad student Maya had to juggle a full course load and TA work with a puppy, all while having a torn ACL. “And like many students, [I] was stressed about finances, the climate crisis, and a pandemic,” she says. But Maya really enjoyed meeting bright and passionate undergraduate students as a TA, and in addition to making time for healthy habits and self-care, she had a strong support system in her friends, family, and partner. She also emphasizes her appreciation for the guidance and support of her supervisor, professor Clifford Atleo Jr. from SFU’s School of Resource and Environmental Management. “I cannot thank [them] all enough,” she says. 

Maya is a recipient of the Canadian Institute of Planners Planning Student Fund Award in recognition of her research and has recently started a position with the First Nations Health Authority as a Regional Planner for the Fraser Salish Region.

Congratulations, Maya!