Julia prinselaar, Thunder Bay

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"When it’s 10 degrees and sunny on a day in February, in what should be winter, I feel that I might as well as enjoy it, even though it’s not normal.  But then that makes me feel guilty. Why should I celebrate climate change?  But in that moment there isn’t much you can do otherwise."

 

Julia prinselaar, Thunder Bay

Julia forages for medicinal and edible plants, hunts small game and deer, and practices traditional skills. She works for EcoSuperior as a Program Coordinator, and also writes for Northern Wilds and other local publications.

Despite living in the city, she identifies as someone who lives close to the land. Julia says, "The land is a teacher. You are free of judgment when you are in the wilderness. Nature doesn’t care what you look like. Or what your political views or opinions are. Coming into that neutral zone is forgiving. It is a stress reliever. On the other hand it is very merciless - the weather and the natural elements. You must surrender and give yourself into it. I go to the land to reconnect and re-set. We are defined in large part by the places where we live."

Julia says that she is very aware of how the climate is shifting in this region. She shares, "I’m only 30, but [the climate] is doesn’t appear to be consistent, the weather is no longer predictable. There are winters [that] aren’t consistent. In January [2017] the lake wasn’t frozen at all. The levels of ice on the lake [vary]. In early February the ice thickness was less. Ice fishing has definitely been affected, and this year there are dangerous spots even in February. It has been warmer and wetter. Even in January! I don’t recall seeing that before or hearing from elders who have." 

Julia also worries about the increasing numbers of tick and tick-borne diseases like Lyme. She says, "I must be more careful and diligent when I go hiking and foraging in the woods. I am extremely concerned. Ticks carry serious diseases that have the ability to drastically impact our population from a public health perspective. What kinds of new diseases will we see? How will we adapt? It is a big concern when you have to develop resilience."

Because of her work, she says she thinks about climate change frequently. "It's a conversation in my workplace and in my every day life. I like to spend time outside; it’s my lifestyle. When something changes that, or throws a wrench into that…well, climate change is one of those factors. With these wetter winters, well…I love to go skiing. And Kamview has been periodically closed, even in the middle of what should be winter. Which is very strange."

When Julia thinks about climate change and its impacts, she feels stressed. She says, "I don’t know. It just seems like it is just going to get worse. And not knowing how bad it will actually get, and seeing the apathy of government, and not seeing any way that we’re going to turn this around soon…that all leaves me feeling negative. It makes me feel a little bit hopeless. There just isn’t enough being done about it." Julia questions whether she wants to bring children into this world, and wonders if she's making the right personal decisions to mitigate climate change. She wants politicians and people in power to take bigger steps, asking, "What is the worst that can happen if you take a stand?"