Environmental advocate Graham May receives recognition

Local youth tops list of Canadians championing sustainability

A Canadian magazine has named Powell River’s Graham May to its top 30 under 30 in sustainability. Corporate Knights, billing itself as “the magazine for clean capitalism,” recognized May in its Fall 2016 issue.

“I generally don’t turn down nominations for these recognitions,” said May. “I don’t think it speaks directly to my accomplishments; I don’t consider myself a business person.”

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The exciting part for May, he said, was to appear alongside Canadians, including astronauts, policy-makers, engineers and scientists, several of whom he has worked with before.

According to May, that list represents the millennial generation, the most well-educated generation in history.

“It’s a very engaged generation, at least that’s the side of it that I see,” he said. “The state of the world literally depends on us.”

His role in being a part of the sustainable generation, he said, was shaped in Powell River.

“Most of my decisions and actions are guided by the lessons I learned in my hometown,” said May. “One thing I always say to people is that you won’t protect what you don’t love and you won’t love what you don’t know. In Powell River, I was very, very lucky to grow up with nature everywhere in my life.”

According to May, he discovered his passion as a teenager at Brooks Secondary School.

“We have an extraordinary environment here and we celebrate it quite deliberately through some of the outdoor education programs at Brooks, like Coast Mountain Academy and Leadership Ecology Adventure Program [LEAP],” he said.

May was a student with the first LEAP graduating class in 2007 and was back this year to teach for the 10th anniversary of the program “that changed my life when I was 14,” he said.

According to his course instructor Ryan Barfoot, May has won a number of national awards.

“He also wins the award for requesting more reference letters than anyone else in my life to date,” said Barfoot. “I am going to start telling committees to just Google him.”

May is currently attending law school at University of Victoria.

While he does not see himself as a clean capitalist, he said he was comfortable with associating himself with Corporate Knights.

“Do I see myself as someone who is going to change the world through capitalism? Probably not,” he said. “I don’t think that’s my role. I’m more interested in regulation, law and education. However, I know capitalism is one of the most important forces shaping our world.”

May has spent the last five years of his life travelling and living all over the world, in places such as Turkey, Egypt, Greenland, the United States and China.

“He brings a worldly perspective to a town that can often feel small and insular,” said Barfoot.

May said he is excited to be back home, where he feels he can really contribute and start building a life.

“My hope is, after law school, I’ll be in a position where I can start finding a home, raising a family and maybe doing some of this work on a local, British Columbian, or even a Powell River scale, instead of a more global one,” said May. “I need to start feeling that I can contribute to the place I love the most, which is the coast.”

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