150 Profiles: Celine Trojand

As we mark the 150th anniversary of confederation, The Philanthropist is profiling Canadians from across the non-profit sector and putting a face to 150 individuals who work or volunteer in Canada’s social sector.

Name: Celine Trojand

Current role in the sector: Lead Organizer at Organizing for Change, a.k.a. movement wrangler

Years working and/or volunteering in the nonprofit sector: Eight years.

Celine Trojand profile picture

What was your first job in the sector or a defining moment?
In 2009, I visited a small coastal village, fly or boat-in only, and happened to arrive on a day when the community was holding a potlatch. I was there to understand the threat that a proposed oil tanker would have on local communities. Sitting in their big hall, eating the best salmon and shellfish you could imagine, one leader told me, “when the tide goes out, the table is set here. So the day that this project goes through is the day that my community dies”. I understood that no matter what, British Columbians would defend our home and livelihood against such a risky, destructive project. I knew that losing wasn’t an option.

Describe your desk/workspace.
When I’m home in Kitwanga BC, a small northern community of about 400 people, my desk overlooks the garden and chicken coops. I can see my parents (yes, I’m a millennial who lives with her parents) and friends working away tending to the birds and weeding rows of potatoes, beets and onions. I also spend a lot of time on the road. So my workspace can be the dash of my pick-up truck, an internet café, kitchen table, or a trail to one of BC’s wondrous rivers. Always, my dog Loup will be close by making sure that I take breaks, get exercise and eat well.

What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector?
There are three books that I consider critical reads for organizers working in the non-profit sector and who run change campaigns. The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt, Winning the Story Wars by Jonah Sachs and notes from Marshall Ganz on the practices of organizing which you can find on his website.

What do you think our sector needs to be thinking about?
I care most about being effective in this work. Why else would I be here if not to measurably improve a situation, our lives and the world? The political and social landscape is changing faster than ever and if the non-profit sector wants to stay relevant I think we need to be asking the most difficult and self-effacing questions, like “what are our specific, measurable goals?”, “what power do we need to achieve them?”, “why hasn’t this problem been solved?”, “what hasn’t been tried yet?”, and to ask ourselves, if we had nothing to lose, what would we do?

Do you know someone we should profile as part of this series? Email us at philanthropistprofiles@gmail.com

Celine Trojand is Lead Organizer at Organizing for Change.