“Embrace your passion, collaborate with purpose, and let your voice resonate in the pursuit of sustainable development, because every small action today shapes the resilient and equitable world we aspire to build tomorrow.”
2024 Top 30 Under 30
What specific issue(s) are you taking on, and what inspires you to do so?
I’m taking action on a couple of important issues that really matter to me. One big thing I’m working on is Food Insecurity. As the Director of Government Affairs for the Canadian Federation of Medical Students, I organized a significant initiative in 2023. We brought together over 70 medical students from all over Canada for a training weekend on food insecurity, followed by a Day of Action where we talked to more than 40 Members of Parliament and Senators. We pushed for concrete changes like making food insecurity a clear policy target, working with Indigenous Peoples to address food insecurity in the North, increasing support for low-income families, and setting up a basic income program. I’m inspired to work on this because I believe in food justice and making sure everyone has access to proper nutrition.
Another issue close to my heart is tackling systemic discrimination in healthcare. As the Medical Student Representative on the Canadian Medical Forum EDII Working Group, I’m involved in initiatives addressing racism in healthcare organizations, providing education on racism in medicine, and promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion. I’m inspired to fight against discrimination in healthcare because I believe everyone should have equal access to quality healthcare, regardless of their background.
Locally, at the University of Calgary, I’m all about making positive changes too. Through grant applications, I’ve supported projects like the Decolonize Health Care Congress, created an Open Education Resource Fund, and funded the Pre-pathways to Education for Indigenous Students in Southern Alberta program. This past year I dedicated a significant amount of time towards creating the UCalgary Student Pluralism Initiative. These projects aim to break down discriminatory structures, promote diversity, and make education more accessible for everyone.
My inspiration comes from a deep belief in justice, fairness, and the idea that everyone deserves equal opportunities. I want to make a real impact on issues like food insecurity and discrimination in healthcare, and I’m driven by the idea that positive change starts with taking action.
What does climate change or climate justice mean to you? To your work?
Climate change is a critical global threat that impacts both the environment and social systems. For me, it signifies the urgent need to address environmental challenges and the ethical responsibility to ensure that vulnerable communities are not disproportionately affected. In my work, particularly within healthcare and education, addressing climate change is essential. It influences health outcomes and educational accessibility, and incorporating climate justice principles is crucial to creating resilient, equitable systems. Ultimately, climate justice guides my efforts to foster positive, inclusive, and sustainable changes in these sectors, recognizing their pivotal role in building a resilient society amid a changing climate.
What advice do you have for other young people looking to get involved in sustainable development?
My advice for fellow young individuals eager to engage in sustainable development is centered on practical actions and a continuous learning mindset:
- Stay Informed: Educate yourself about environmental issues, sustainable practices, and global initiatives. Recognize the interplay of social, economic, and environmental factors in sustainable development.
- Find Your Passion: Identify a cause within sustainable development that genuinely resonates with you. Whether it’s climate action, social justice, or biodiversity conservation, align your efforts with your true passions.
- Start Locally: Initiate change in your local community. Small, tangible actions, such as participating in local projects, community clean-ups, or awareness campaigns, can have a significant and immediate impact.
- Collaborate and Network: Recognize that sustainable development is a collective effort. Collaborate with like-minded individuals, organizations, and community groups. Networking expands your impact and provides valuable insights.
- Build Relevant Skills: Acquire skills that are pertinent to sustainable development, such as project management, communication, and advocacy. These skills enhance your effectiveness in driving positive change.
- Advocate for Change: Utilize your voice to advocate for sustainable practices and policies. Engage with local authorities, participate in public discussions, and raise awareness about sustainable development issues.
- Embrace Innovation: Explore innovative solutions and technologies that contribute to sustainable development. Embracing innovation allows for creative problem-solving and fosters a proactive approach to environmental challenges.
- Remain Open to Learning: Sustainable development is a dynamic field. Stay open to learning and adapting your approach based on new insights, research, and evolving global perspectives. Continuous education ensures your efforts remain effective and relevant.
Chaten Jessel at the University of Calgary Students’ Union annual Calgary Leaders’ Dinner.
Chaten Jessel serving as the Medical Student Representative at the Canadian Medical Associations Integrated Health Human Resource Planning Co-Creation Event in Ottawa.
Chaten Jessel updating medical students across the country on the initiatives his portfolio runs and the impact they have had at the Canadian Federation of Medical Students Annual General Meeting in Toronto.