By definition, ecological resilience refers to a community’s ability to withstand and recover from environmental challenges. This concept is vital to combating climate change in the City of Mississauga. Located in Community Common Park in Mississauga, the “We Are Resilient” exhibit seeks to bolster the city’s collective resilience and showcase local environmental conservation actions.
The exhibit focuses on four key areas: the history of Mississauga’s environment, educational climate science, climate equity, and climate resiliency.
Of all the community members involved in setting up the exhibit, it was “particularly important for [the city] to engage with the Indigenous community and the Mississaugas of the Credit, who are treaty holders of the land where the exhibition is installed right now” says Lisa Abbott, Manager of the Small Arms Inspection Building and the Museums of Mississauga, in an interview with The Medium.
The Culture Division of the city spoke with Chief Stacey LaForme of the Mississaugas of the Credit and Elder Peter Schuler in preparation for the “We Are Resilient” exhibit. LaForme emphasized that: “Indigenous people have been taking care of the land since time immemorial. […] It’s time we start listening and learning from Indigenous practices about maintaining and caring for the Earth.”
Along with providing an Indigenous perspective of land usage, Elder Schuler also helped compile scientific information for the exhibit’s installations. Each of the individually coloured panels include an educational element on climate science, which is the second key component of the exhibit. “We wanted to arm our residents with some basic terminology and understanding of what climate change is and how it happens,” explains Dianne Zimmerman, the Environment Manager for the City of Mississauga, in an interview with The Medium. Additionally, each of the panels include a call-to-action, which explains what residents can do to reduce their individual carbon footprints.
“We all have a role to play,” says Zimmerman. “There isn’t one silver bullet for saving the climate imperative.” The panels’ calls-to-action reflect the importance of community involvement in saving the environment.
Focusing on Mississauga residents’ capabilities to resist climate change, the third key focus of the installation is climate equity, which recognizes that residents’ responses to environmental issues are heavily dependent on socio-economic factors—income, for instance. Zimmerman explains how “those individuals that are least responsible for a change in climate are sometimes those who are most impacted.”
In light of this, the exhibit is highly portable, and will be able to travel for several years due to its structural integrity. It will visit numerous recreation centers, museums, and parks. Abbot explains that the city “love[s] to bring what we want to talk about outside of the museum into all areas of the city to ensure that [they are] serving Mississauga residents even in underserved areas.”
The final theme of the exhibit concerns resiliency in Mississauga. This is displayed in the form of personal stories and photographs submitted by residents. While the installation ultimately serves to educate, it also celebrates the climate actions locals have already taken. “It’s really an opportunity for us to give back to the community,” says Zimmerman. Incorporated throughout the panels, these narratives give Mississauga’s climate change initiatives a personal touch.
Through captivating storytelling, the “We Are Resilient” exhibit reflects the City of Mississauga’s vision for community engagement and support for their climate change action plan.
Associate News Editor (Volume 49) — Emily is a third-year at UTM, studying Environmental Science and Political Science. Her academic career is best illustrated by terminal indecisiveness between the humanities and sciences. As a passionate writer, she looks forward to igniting her own creativity for The Medium and hopes to learn from others and grow in her work. Aside from speed typing thousands words worth of analyses, essays, and articles, Emily enjoys spending her spare time running miles through the woods, assembling the perfect outfits, reading on public transit, and drinking copious amounts of coffee. She can be found on Instagram and LinkedIn.