My community's resilience in the face of climate change

As a fellow resident of St. James Town, I intimately understood the challenges and discomfort associated with heatwaves.

The mere mention of a heatwave would evoke a collective sigh, knowing what was laying ahead. People wondering how they were going to keep their children cool or dealing with walking up flights of stairs in the heat if the elevator was broken, to name a few. The struggle became more evident  within my own apartment, where the afternoon sun would peak through the windows, causing the temperatures inside to soar until sunset. Looking at my thermometer at times and seeing the temperatures rising to 25 degrees celsius and above, with the highest being 28 degrees celsius. To keep cool, I would open the windows and turn on the fan to the highest setting in my room. It brought a sense of momentary relief but it wasn't enough. I felt defeated knowing that these were my options to keep cool and realizing others were also going through the same thing. 

Experiencing firsthand the direct impact of heatwaves brought a better understanding and insight to my fellow residents who are experiencing similar circumstances. It created a stronger determination in me to continue to provide awareness, resources, and information on this project for the betterment of the residents in St. James Town.

How and why I joined: 

In June 2022, I joined the CREW/TEA Neighbourhood Heatwave Response Project, as one of the 10 key volunteers. This amazing initiative focused on addressing the impacts of heatwaves within high-rise communities, particularly in the vibrant neighbourhood of St. James Town. St. James Town is a vibrant and diverse community located in Toronto, Canada. Known as the largest high-rise community, it is home to people from all different and rich cultures and backgrounds. The focus of this project, which is ongoing now, has been on creating a community led plan for emergency preparedness and for neighbours to help neighbours during extreme heat waves. 

The project resonated deeply with my personal values, as it encompassed the principles of community resilience, sustainability, and collaboration. Living in the community where the project was centered, St. James Town, I felt a stronger sense of connectedness to the cause and duty to the well-being of the people in the community. 

Connecting and supporting neighbours: 

As one of 10 key volunteers, I had the opportunity to connect with residents in the St. James Town community from various backgrounds and build meaningful connections with them. It was amazing to see how the common concern for heat waves brought a sense of unity. 

During these conversations, I listened as they shared their personal experiences with the challenges of heatwaves. Many voiced their struggles in keeping cool, particularly if they lacked fans or air conditioning units. As a fellow resident living in one of the high-rise buildings, their stories deeply connected with me. This shared experience allowed me to empathize on a deeper level, creating a bond of understanding and compassion between volunteers and residents.

It became increasingly apparent that access to essential cooling resources, such as fans, air conditioning, and designated cooling areas, was a pressing need. This revelation underscored the importance of advocating for equitable access to cooling infrastructure within our community such as a working ventilation system and central air conditioning, ensuring that every resident had the means to combat the sweltering heat.

By actively engaging with other residents, our volunteer team aims to support and address their needs related to heatwaves.This has involved distributing surveys to find out about residents knowledge of heatwaves, thermometers to see how hot it gets in their apartments and asking them to keeping a note of it so we could collect the data, providing resources on how to keep cool, and sharing information on the heatwave project.

These efforts were just a glimpse of the support we provided as volunteers. By listening, gathering data, and sharing valuable information, we aimed to strengthen residents' resilience and well-being during heatwave events.

More information:

I encourage you to share this information with others. By spreading this information, you can raise awareness and inspire action. To learn more about the project visit: