I met Joanne in my late-teen-years while attending a Pickering Ajax Citizens Together to Protect Our Water (PACT POW) event at Rotary Park in 2013. As a young woman in the environmental field, Joanne’s work at the time was incredibly empowering. She is one of the few people I know that has the ability to capture the hearts of young men and women, like she did with mine, and demonstrate the importance of our work and the necessity for all of us to make environmentally minded choices. Having briefly followed her career in the field, Joanne was my inspiration to pursue my love for the environment in a political capacity and through activism.
Her relentless work on PACT POW, meeting with local MPP’s to bring attention to the algae issue, coupled with her earlier work presenting in front of the Pickering Council, encouraging them to become an MAI (Multilateral Agreement on Investment) free zone, was a testament to me on the revolutionizing force of a passionate individual.
Since meeting Joanne at the PACT POW event in 2013, she has continued to lobby for environmental causes and serves as an inspiration to teens and young children, bringing environmental education to schools. She has worked with the PineRidge Arts Council on projects encouraging high school students to create art from artifacts found when picking up litter and has supported programs of a similar vein at Glengrove Public School. There, Joanne had students bring in household electronic garbage and together, built a robot from the waste which was later displayed at the Pickering Rec Centre in celebration of the Brock West Landfill site closure.
Her work as an educator on these projects was done with the intent of fostering social and behavioral transcendence, framing teens and elementary students as important vehicles of change. In focusing on students, Joanne’s work is likely to have a lasting impact as they reflect on how they can reduce waste by repurposing or re-creating materials in the future.
What makes Councillor Dies work in the environmental field unique, is her lesson that a person need not be a politician or scientist to make an environmental difference.
In the classroom and with her work on the Doors Open project in Ajax, where she helped gather a group of artists to repurpose and paint over old doors, she has demonstrated that creators, artists, and students have the potential to bring environmentalism into their work.
Most recently, Joanne, who is co-chair of PACT POW, recently turned her attention to bringing awareness to and lobbying against the discharge of phosphorus from the Duffins Creek Water Pollution Control Plant. On this issue, Joanne has presented at numerous public meetings to educate citizens on how the Plant is significantly contributing to phosphorus levels in the lake. This work represents one of many efforts made by Joanne to educate, lobby, and fight for an environmental standard in Durham that will lead to the betterment of the community and its ecologies.
Through her work rallying around globally significant projects like Stop the MAI, taking part in local activism with PACT POW, serving as an artist and creator with students, acting as a community educator, helping establish the St. Andrews Community Garden, and volunteering in Adopt-A-Road cleanups, Joanne has continually promoted the protection of the environment in many meaningful ways.
I am so incredibly grateful that she has shared with Ajax her concern for issues like water conservation and am even more grateful that she has taken leadership to ensure future use and enjoyment of our lakes and creeks.
In one sentence, what has been revealed through Joanne’s work is the radical impact a person can make when they are driven by their love for the community.