"Supporter Spotlight" features Canadians with a passion for Canada’s Natural Resource sector. Our spotlight this month is Lyndon Breadner. Lyndon is a member of Students for Canada, Canada Action’s student and young professional initiative. Today he talks to us about why it’s so important that Canadian youth support natural resources.
Canada Action: Lyndon, thank you so much for taking the time today. You are a member of Students for Canada (SFC), Canada Action’s youth advocacy initiative.. You are also a university student. What are you currently studying and what would you like to pursue as a career?
Lyndon: I’m currently finishing up my bachelor's degree in history at the University of Lethbridge. I'll be graduating in October so I am very excited!I did not think I would get here back in my first year. I thought I was going to be in university for 10 years (he laughs). Then I'm going to be working for the next little bit and then I'm going to try my hand at writing the LSAT’s and try to pursue law school. Then I'll see where the road takes me from there.
Canada Action: Students for Canada is designed by students, for students who are passionate about activism toward a strong, healthy Canada and a prosperous, sustainable future. Can you tell us a little bit about what Student’s for Canada actually does?
Lyndon: A big component of what we do is career development and networking events. We want to create a student community across Canada who are passionate about Canada's resources. We’re the next generation of workers so why not meet each other a little bit earlier than we might down the road.
The community aspect of SFC is something that’s always driven me towards SFC as well. We want to give students as many opportunities to get ahead of the competition as possible. We want to educate them on the forestry industry in Ontario or fisheries and BC - even if they're from Alberta like myself, and be able to educate them on all the different resources that Canada has and then show them that it's not a one set “I’m from Alberta, this is the way my career has to go”. They can take it in so many different directions.
I think the education component, the community and networking component - we're really trying to do as much as we can for students to set their future as strong as we can.
Canada Action: What are some of the specific programs SFC has in place?
Lyndon: Our “Food for thought” series, for example, is a weekly event throughout the year. Every Thursday we bring in resources and other professional speakers from across Canada. We’ve had speakers from Quebec, Ontario, Newfoundland… All industry experts from various branches who have worked in the industry for a really long time, and we have them speak on a variety of topics.
For example we’ve had someone from CIBC speak about financial planning, creating budgets and creating a strong LinkedIn profile.
When it comes to SFC campus chapters, hosting events is a big part of what we do on campuses. One of our goals this upcoming year is to get more speakers to go to certain campuses and meet with students. We’re trying to increase how many chapters we have throughout Canada so that we can start hosting simultaneous events across the country.
We also have nationwide contests like our resource challenge going on right now where we ask students across Canada about how we can change the narrative surrounding resources for young Canadians.
Canada Action: What made you want to join Students for Canada?
Lyndon: I’ve always been that kid in class who if I felt like the professor wasn't saying something factually correct about oil and gas specifically, likes to throw my hand up and speak out about it. And to be perfectly honest I felt pretty alone in a lot of those situations.
After doing that, I got a lot of looks. I was the “oil-and-gas kid” and it felt very isolating on campus. So when I heard that there was a student group starting up at U of A that consisted of all of these students asking about industry and wanting to have positive conversations, I knew I had to join and be part of it. I grew up with family in oil and gas and it’s kind of hard for us to come out of the woodwork sometimes!
Canada Action: One of SFC’s initiatives is to speak up against fossil fuel divestment in Canada. What are some of the negative impacts divestment has on our economy?
Lyndon: If I’m not mistaken, there are 10 different universities who are currently divesting from oil and gas. I don’t think a majority of students support divestment, I think it’s a very vocal minority that is advocating for universities to stop investing into different resource companies.
I think that what’s unfortunate about divestment is that it’s Canadian universities not supporting Canadian industries and it leads to us having to get oil & gas from other countries. We have a resource that we should be incredibly proud of and I think divestment comes down to a lack of education. That’s why SFC came up with the Food for Thought series; because there's this lack of education in terms of what resources are, how the industry works, what the positives of it are and again, I think there’s a lack of knowledge. People aren’t seeing the full picture.
Canada Action: As someone who speaks up for the development of natural resources, you must come across a lot of pushback, especially on campus or peers in your age group. What are some of the misconceptions people, especially students and young professionals, have about youth supporting the development of natural resources?
Lyndon: For me it goes all the way back to grade three (he laughs). I vividly remember feeling that if you weren’t working in an industry that was saving the gorillas, you were killing the earth. From there, once we got into university and everybody was going into all of these different programs and working certain jobs, it seemed like nobody was going into resources. And I think that part of the issue is that they hear in the media that there are no jobs and no future in resources and I think that's one of the biggest misconceptions. There’s just a lack of information. A lot of students or young professionals think that the industry is still as it was when it first started a long long time ago. Albertan oil & gas companies don’t own all the railroads in Calgary (he laughs)!
My grandpa was a dairy farmer and my mother grew up on the farm, helping milk the cows. She made something like 5$ a day and got dessert first if she did really well. Farming has changed drastically thanks to technological advances. People learn about the beginning of these industries and not about how they’ve evolved in this day and age, and this doesn’t help diminish misconceptions.
I went on a field trip last summer with the company I was working for for the summer, and we met a man who was working in the field. We all have misconceptions of what the field workers look like. I started speaking with him and he told me he was about to get his Masters in engineering! And just like that, every single misconception that I had about field workers was thrown out the window!
Canada Action: Why do you think all Canadians should care about Canadian natural resource development? Is there any kind of message that you want to tell Canadians reading this?
Lyndon: I think it comes down to Canadians supporting Canadians. And I think that’s the most important thing. At the end of the day we’re all Canadian. I want Toronto to do just as well economically as Alberta. Well - maybe I don't want the Maple Leafs to do as well as the Flames but that's just me (he laughs). But I think it comes down to Canadians propping other Canadians up and supporting each other and all industries.
That’s why pipeline issues always ranked differently for me. I want every other province to succeed. If there was a Hydro project that went across the country I would say “sign me up! Let's go!” because at the end of the day if one of us benefits we all benefit. And that’s the beauty of Canada. We can all be better by helping each other and we need to go back to that.
Canada Action: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Lyndon: I think I think I'd be remiss to not encourage students and young professionals to join SFC! So if you’re a student who is anywhere in Canada and feel similar to me, where maybe you don't know who else is supportive of resources or you just feel like there's a lot of misinformation and polarization out there, or maybe you just want to learn more about resources, then you need you give Students for Canada a look.
You can reach out to us via Instagram or LinkedIn @studentsforcanada, you can also check out our website at www.studentsforcanada.ca and learn more about our program. You can also sign up for our newsletter. The newsletter is the best way to keep up-to-date with what we’re doing.
Canada Action: Lyndon, it’s been an absolute pleasure to speak to you today. Thank you so much for your time today.
Lyndon: Thank you!
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Do you know someone who works hard for Canada’s Natural Resource sector and should be featured in our “Supporter Spotlight” segment? Tag us @canadaaction with the hashtag #inthespotlight with your nominees!
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