Change starts with you.
That’s what Nicholas Pasieczka says he believes, so he’s taken several steps to make environmental change — steps that have earned him recognition as one of the top young environmentalists in the country.
The Starfish Canada, an organization devoted to recognizing young environmental leaders, named Pasieczka one of its top 25 environmentalists under 25 in 2020.
Since getting the award in December, Pasieczka has met and networked with the other recipients through video calls. The youths discuss their current projects and future goals.
"It’s difficult to say that I’m one of the top 25," Pasieczka said. "It doesn’t feel like that at all. It feels quite surreal, but there’s countless people … across Canada doing amazing work who don’t get recognized."
The 20-year-old said he’d like to use his platform to highlight others in the field.
And he’s worked with many.
Pasieczka is in his third year at the University of Manitoba, pursuing an electrical engineering degree. He’s part of the engineering faculty’s first-ever sustainability committee. With the group, he’s helped implement a composting program and town hall speaker series, among other things.
He’s also part of the school’s United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Youth Working Group, which educates people on campus about how to contribute to the UN’s targets. He represented Canada at an international energy summit in Vancouver in 2019. He created a video to promote biking as a means of getting around.
Furthermore, he ran 100 kilometres in April of 2019 to fundraise for Pollinate Group, a renewable energy charity. He raised $7,100 to educate female entrepreneurs in Nepal and India. The money also bought solar lights in those areas, to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
"Every action adds up and makes a difference," Pasieczka said.
He added that by receiving the award, he hopes to show others they can do the same.
Pasieczka has grown up on an acreage in Oak Bluff. Fields surround his home; there’s a large garden and plenty of animals. Currently, the family has cats and chickens.
"Being in nature, I see how integral it is to our life and our society," Pasieczka said. "I’ve been taught to respect the nature around you — what you put into the earth is what you get back. If you just keep taking, sooner or later, it’s not going to work out well."
Pasieczka said he’s worked for small businesses and government organizations, and that both must work together if a world of zero carbon emissions is to become a reality. Governments can’t do everything on their own, but they can provide incentives for businesses to be eco-friendly, Pasieczka said.
His plan is to work in the renewable energy sector for up to 10 years before running for parliament. He said he’d like to bridge the gap between government and businesses.
"I’m not sure where my future will take me, but wherever I can make the biggest impact, that’s where I’ll be," he said.
Pasieczka participated in Manitoba’s youth parliament program over the winter break. He said he plans on attending the French version in February.
The Headliner community journalist
Gabrielle Piché is the community journalist for The Headliner. Gabby is a cub reporter fresh from Red River College’s creative communications program. She majored in journalism and spent the summer of 2020 as an intern at the Winnipeg Free Press. Gabby also has a B.A. in communications from the University of Winnipeg. She reported for newspapers in the Interlake, including the Selkirk Record, in 2019, and received the Eric and Jack Wells Excellence in Journalism award in 2020. When she’s not chasing stories, you can find Gabby listening to podcasts, attempting yoga or petting somebody’s dog Email her at email@example.com