Mark Terry, a York University graduate, a faculty member with the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, and a research Fellow with the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research, is a recipient of the 2021 Order of Vaughan – the City of Vaughan’s highest civic honour.
On Dec. 21, Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua honoured Terry for his contributions to media and communication, recognizing his film work in environmental research.
“This year’s honourees are guided by values rooted in goodwill and noble intentions to bring about positive change to people’s lives. These exceptional city-builders have given selflessly to causes far greater than themselves,” says Bevilacqua. “They are agents of positive change who share the same mission – to make this world a better place.”
Since 2016, more than 50 individuals have been invested in the Order of Vaughan for exemplifying extraordinary citizenship and bettering the community.
“The decision to give someone like me the Order of Vaughan makes a statement that environmental issues, especially serious ones like climate change, is a high priority for the City of Vaughan and its residents,” says Terry. “I think recognizing an environmentalist demonstrates where the city wants to go in adopting progressive environmental policies like the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”
Terry is a Canadian scholar, explorer and filmmaker who has made a significant influence on how data and research are perceived and visually shared. In 2009, Terry produced and directed the documentary feature film The Antarctica Challenge: A Global Warning and was invited to screen it at COP15, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
He was the first to introduce film as a data delivery system and has since developed a new media platform for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as the Youth Climate Report, a “Geo-Doc” documentary database with more than 600 film reports made by the global community of youth. His project was introduced at the Paris Climate Summit in 2015 and was officially adopted by the UN the following year under its Article 6 mandate for education and outreach.
In his 25-year career as a journalist and documentary filmmaker, Terry has earned the distinction of having made a documentary film on every continent and has received many honorary achievements for his work such as the Gemini Humanitarian Award from the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for international humanitarian service.
Terry notes the UN continues to explore new ways of engaging youth in the policy process. Most recently, Terry served as the only Canadian editor of the COY16 Global Youth Statement, which gathers thousands of young changemakers from more than 140 countries who directly forward the official youth position in the UN climate negotiations.
His latest documentary – The Changing Face of Iceland – premiered at the UN climate summit, COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland, in November 2021. His new book, Mapping the Environmental Humanities: The Emerging Role of GIS in Ecocriticism is being released in March 2022 and will soon be followed by another new book in July 2022 titled, Speaking Youth to Power: Influencing Climate Policy at the United Nations.
The City’s virtual Order of Vaughan investiture ceremony appointed six people to the Order of Vaughan for 2021. Recipients also include, alumna Elvira Caria, who graduated with a double honours degree in English Literature and Mass Communications. Caria has called Vaughan home since 1987 and demonstrates a genuine and authentic desire to help her neighbours. For more than a decade, Caria has been a dedicated board member of Vaughan in Motion to Cure Cancer. Her civic leadership has helped raise funds for cancer care at Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital. During her time as Director of Media and Sponsorship, Vaughan in Motion to Cure Cancer raised nearly $100,000 in support of cancer patients.
Karine Rashkovsky also received the city’s highest honour and is a senior research associate with York’s Faculty of Education and facilitates field research in schools across Vaughan. Rashkovsky has served the Vaughan community for more than two decades as an award-winning educator, business leader, policy academic and volunteer. Her extensive civic engagement includes mentoring teen and adult entrepreneurs, leading community educational conferences, providing academic consulting, offering monthly community social justice book clubs, being on the board of directors for Canada’s oldest environmental organization, contributing to Vaughan’s public libraries, and training Canada’s top public speakers.
To learn more about this year’s recipients and to watch the 2021 virtual ceremony, visit vaughan.ca/OrderofVaughan.
Editor’s note: This story was updated on Jan. 6, 2022 to include information about two additional recipients with affiliations to York University.