STU Sustainability fights climate anxiety, burnout

STU sustainability Climate Rally from this past Nov 22nd, 2022. (Jacob Moore/AQ)

It was zero degrees with the wind chill and Tabitha Evans and Lauren Acorn were shivering on the front steps of the Legislative assembly of New Brunswick. They are co-chairs of St. Thomas University Sustainability Club.

The advocacy group planned a climate rally that took place from noon until 1 p.m. on Nov. 22. There were about 60 people in winter coats, hats and mitts.

“STU Sustainability has hosted two climate rallies in the past year and this is our best turnout yet,” said Evans.

Evans, a sociology and an environment and society student, said she and other members of the group were feeling burnt out, so the group decided to finish off 2022 with the rally and start up again next semester.

“It’s encouraging and keeps students motivated for next semester,” she said.

Managing both schoolwork and STU Sustainability is hard work, but Evans finds it rewarding. She said she spends about five hours a week just reaching out to different professors for feedback.

Tabitha Evans, Chair and social media coordinator for the STU Sustainability Society. (Jacob Moore/AQ)

Evans was pleased to see the diverse range of age groups supporting the event. There were more than just members of STU Sustainability involved — volunteers from other organizations spoke on the steps of the Legislature, including Wolastoq Grand Chief Ron Tremblay, MLA David Coon and Fredericton Mayor Kate Rogers.

Acorn said she loved that multiple people spoke about climate anxiety.

“As someone with anxiety myself, especially relating to the climate, I was really happy to see not just students but the other people as well speak on climate anxiety,” said Acorn.

Younger folks especially worry about their futures and Acorn wants them to know they aren’t alone.

“Last year, someone gave a really emotional speech about how they’re worried about the lives of the children they’re going to have,” said Acorn. “If you’re struggling with eco anxiety, a lot of us are. You are not alone.”

One of the speakers said a line that Acorn loved: “Don’t let burnout lead to indifference.”

Evans also loved the line. She added that people should not be judged if they feel burnt out.

“The biggest problem is the government’s ignorance to the issue [of climate change]. People face burnout because of that ignorance,” she said. “For climate activists, the issue with burnout is that we’re not being listened to.”