VANCOUVER | TRADITIONAL, UNCEDED TERRITORIES OF THE xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (MUSQUEAM), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (SQUAMISH) AND səlilwətaɬ (TSLEIL-WAUTUTH) FIRST NATIONS — Environment and culture activist Severn Cullis-Suzuki is now the David Suzuki Foundation’s executive director.
Cullis-Suzuki is a daughter of David Suzuki Foundation co-founders David Suzuki and Tara Cullis, and has been a voice for intergenerational justice since childhood. She was a youth activist for climate justice and sustainability, speaking at UN summits and international gatherings as an advocate for future generations. She is an environmental educator, communicator and scholar and has worked on campaigns in B.C., Canada and Japan. For the past 14 years, Cullis-Suzuki lived on Haida Gwaii, raising her family and creating programs for Haida language revitalization, the heritage language of her husband Gudt’aawtis Judson Brown and their two children. They have moved to Vancouver to be near the Foundation’s West Coast office.
“We are thrilled and lucky to have Severn in this role,” Foundation board chair and UBC law professor Margot Young said. “Her experience as a youth activist positions her well to support today’s growing youth climate movement. Her academic background in the sciences will help her ensure the Foundation remains, first and foremost, an evidence-based organization. Her time on Haida Gwaii has steeped her in the wisdom and teachings of Indigenous world views and ways of life. And as a biracial woman, she sees the intersectionality of today’s environmental and social justice movements. She is uniquely positioned to help our Foundation do the work that’s needed at this pivotal time for the planet. Our board of directors strongly believes Severn is the ideal person for this role.”
Cullis-Suzuki has been a long-time Foundation supporter and volunteer, serving as board member for 14 years and volunteering on several campaigns. In 2019, she supported the launch of the national youth-led climate lawsuit to protect the youth plaintiffs’ charter rights, La Rose v. Her Majesty the Queen, and helped welcome Greta Thunberg to Vancouver for the lawsuit announcement and record-breaking #FridaysForFuture climate strike. She holds science degrees in evolutionary biology and ethnoecology, and is currently completing a PhD in linguistic anthropology on the Haida language.
“We’re proud of Severn and excited for the leadership, expertise, courage and integrity she brings to this role,” Foundation deputy director Ian Bruce said. “She will bring new energy, insights and leadership approaches to this organization at an absolutely critical time.”
Bruce served as interim executive director prior to Cullis-Suzuki’s arrival and has worked in senior leadership roles at the Foundation for many years. He will continue to work closely with her as deputy director. Cullis-Suzuki joins a strong management team and committed group of scientists, policy analysts, activists and community organizers.
“I watched my parents put their hearts and souls into building the David Suzuki Foundation, always toward finding solutions. It’s an honour to take up their work in this capacity. I’m filled with humility and gratitude, as well as an urgent sense of responsibility,” Cullis-Suzuki said.
“COVID-19 continues to awaken us to the reality that nature is the bottom line, that science and expertise are crucial to our survival, that we are all connected and that our actions matter,” she said. “These are all tenets of the Foundation, and reasons why this organization will play a critical role in advancing our transformation to an economy characterized by clean energy, justice and strong ecosystems. Shifting humanity toward survival will require all of us stepping up. I’m here to do all I can.”
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For more information or to arrange a media interview, please contact:
Brendan Glauser, David Suzuki Foundation: firstname.lastname@example.org, 604-356-8829
The David Suzuki Foundation (davidsuzuki.org) is a leading Canadian environmental non-profit organization, collaborating with all people in Canada, including government and business, to conserve the environment and find solutions that will create a sustainable Canada through evidence-based research, public engagement and policy work. Its mission is to protect nature’s diversity and the well-being of all life, now and for the future. Its vision is that we all act every day on the understanding that we are one with nature. The Foundation operates in English and French, with offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.