Hey! I’m Sutton. This is my second week as co-executive director of Gen Squeeze.
It’s still new enough to feel funny typing out that title. But it’s also like reuniting with old friends. I’ve known founder Paul Kershaw since the idea of an organization representing younger Canadians was just words on a whiteboard. Six years later, Gen Squeeze is more than 30,000 strong and growing fast.
Gen Squeeze gives Canadians tools to fight for a future that isn’t defined by crushing debt and uncertainty over whether we can afford to stay in the places where we work, live and have our families and friends. We’re about to release a video series showing what “home” means to our supporters, and how recent efforts to make housing more secure are having an impact. These videos are a reminder to politicians — and those voting for them in this fall’s federal election — that now is the time to stand up for policies that prioritize housing for homes, not investments.
With this project in mind, I want to introduce myself by describing what home means to me. I live in a small community on Vancouver Island with my husband and young daughter. We moved here after looking for two years to find a home we could afford. And it’s only that way because we share this space with three others outside of our family.
For me, a home is more than four walls and a roof. It doubles as an office for two virtual professionals. It’s an unlicensed, unruly daycare when our kid’s friends visit (endless gratitude to the neighbours who tolerate the screeches and thuds). Home is the community where we began trading homebrew for bread with the baker down the street, whose son’s birthday party we’ll go to next month. It’s where we play with the neighbour’s cat because we’re too allergic to have our own. Where we argue because no one can hear us, and make up where no one can either.
Housing is more than four walls and a price tag many younger Canadians can’t afford because we were born at the wrong time. These are the places where we live, in ways that are unique and universal. This is the story I’m excited to help Gen Squeeze tell: homes are for everyone, not investments for the few.
I’ve been a storyteller and communicator for over 15 years, beginning as a journalist at places like the Ottawa Citizen and CBC. I’ve led teams at the David Suzuki Foundation and Ecojustice that mobilized thousands of Canadians to defend our water, air and land. Most recently, I’ve helped organizations on both sides of the border build public support for action on one of the most urgent issues of our generation, climate change. In a short time, impacts like floods and wildfires have gone from future phenomenons to current-day catastrophes. Canada is now warming twice as fast as other parts of the world. The cost of this has never been clearer and will be felt most by younger Canadians, alongside other vulnerable groups. That’s why Gen Squeeze is leading an Intergenerational Climate Coalition into the Courts of Appeal in Saskatchewan and Ontario to support carbon pricing.
From affordability issues to global warming, the deck feels pretty stacked against us. But our greatest challenges are also our biggest opportunities. Yesterday, a friend posted this proverb on Instagram to celebrate Earth Day: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now."
Now is our chance to help create the future we want to live in. This is the number one reason why I joined Gen Squeeze, and will help lead it alongside Paul, co-executive director Eric Swanson, the rest of our team and 30,000+ Canadians. Will you join us?
Younger Canadians are being squeezed. Help squeeze back by checking out our action centre, where you can learn about all our active campaigns and help make our voices even louder.