Elise Pullar

Top 30 Under 30: Where are they now?

As we get ready to unveil our 6th Top 30 Under 30 magazine, we have decided to take a moment to check in with past Top 30 recipients to see what they have been up to. Elise Pullar, who was featured on the cover of the 2014 Top 30 magazine, wrote to us from her new home in British Columbia.

About 3 years ago, I was named one of the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation’s Top 30 under 30. As a grade 12 student, this award propelled me into university with huge confidence. It was empowering to be acknowledged for my work as an environmental activist and it was inspiring meet the 29 other young change-makers!

So what am I up to now? Well, my life has changed a lot in the past 3 years.

I’ve been on a rollercoaster of emotions, as I search for my true purpose in the environmental movement. I’m studying Environmental Studies and Biology at the University of Victoria. I have to admit, it’s not easy learning about climate change, deforestation and consumerism in depth. To keep our spirits high and persevere, my friend Katie and I have started calling university “Environmentalist Bootcamp”. We are being trained in the problems so that we can fight for the solutions in a strong and educated way.

This summer, I was pulled away from typical academia and pulled into the great classroom, Mother Earth. We don’t always speak Mother Earth’s language, so she needs interpreters to translate her messages. We can all be interpreters of nature, but sometimes we need some help from the experts. On my journey to the Arctic with Students on Ice this summer, I learned to understand Mother Earth’s language by listening to educators, scientists, elders, artists and explorers.

As I travelled through the Torngat Mountains in Northern Labrador, I was in awe of the massive mountains dipping steeply into the deep blue ocean below. I felt so small beside these powerful peaks. Educators like Linda Lang taught me how to translate this landscape into art, as we painted the Torngat Mountains en plein air.

While I watched an enormous glacier calve, the sound of crashing ice was translated by glaciologist, Eric Mattson. He spoke of ice history, receding glaciers and climate change. Eric’s words were echoed back by the glacier’s cracking and this really stuck in my head AND my heart.

As I sat in a zodiac floating beside three humpback whales, I breathed in and out as they did. Musician, Ian Tymbold, started quietly playing his guitar and translating the humpbacks breath into a song. I connected more deeply with the whales through his lyrics.

These are a few memories from my expedition with Students on Ice and Parks Canada this summer. This northern journey taught me that “Environmentalist Bootcamp” is never over. We will never stop having to tackle environment crisis, but we will also never cease to be awe-struck by the beauty nature holds. Exploring the natural wonders of the world keeps me motivated in the work that I do. I’ve had the opportunity to work for Parks Canada on Youth Engagement for the past two years and I really feel like I’m narrowing in on my purpose.

I want to sincerely thank the Alberta Council for Global Co-operation for supporting me along the way!