Toronto | Traditional territories of the Huron-Wendat, the Anishnaabeg, Haudenosaunee, Chippewas and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, November 24, 2022 – The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), Canada’s leading voice in planetary health, is pleased to announce that it appoints Vancouver family physician Dr. Melissa Lem as its first Board President of colour. Dr. Lem is of Chinese descent and hails from Toronto. She will lead the organization for the next two years.
Dr. Lem is a Vancouver family physician who also works in rural and northern communities within Canada. She has been a member of CAPE since medical school and on its Board of Directors since 2017. Director of Canada’s national nature prescription program PaRx powered by the BC Parks Foundation, she is an internationally recognized leader in the field of nature and health. She has also engaged in advocacy and policy work on a broad range of other issues, from banning fossil fuel advertising and hydraulic fracturing to sustainable health care and low-carbon transportation. A widely published writer, her work has appeared in media including the CBC, Vancouver Sun, Toronto Star, Montreal Gazette, The Narwhal and National Observer. As a climate change panellist on CBC Radio’s Early Edition, in-house medical columnist for CBC TV Vancouver, and Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia, one of her major priorities is knowledge translation.
“As a physician and mother working at the intersection of health and the climate and biodiversity crises, I’m reminded on a daily basis of how much is at stake if we fail to take effective action on both,” says Dr. Lem. “Over the past year, we’ve seen extreme heat, flooding, drought and wildfires driven by climate change on the West Coast—but also an increasing number of health professionals standing up for a liveable planet. As I step into the presidency of CAPE at this critical time, I look forward to working with CAPE to mobilize the health community towards a healthy future for all.”
Dr. Lem was the inaugural winner of University College’s Young Alumni of Influence Award at the University of Toronto, a 2021 World Parks Week Ambassador, winner of the Canadian Museum of Nature’s 2022 Adult Nature Inspiration Award, and sits on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Mental Health and Climate Change and Advisory Committee of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas Health and Well-being Specialist Group.
Dr. Samantha Green becomes President-Elect
CAPE also appoints Dr. Samantha Green as its President-Elect for the next two years. Dr. Green is a family physician at St. Michael’s Hospital and at Inner City Health Associates in Toronto. She has been involved with CAPE for many years and has sat on its Board of Directors since 2017. She is the former Faculty Lead in Climate Change & Health at the University of Toronto’s Department of Family & Community Medicine. Her clinical work focuses on marginalized populations, especially those experiencing homelessness, those involved in the criminal justice system, and newcomers. She advocates for climate action with the aim of improving the health of her patients and community.
The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) is a physician-directed non-profit organization working to secure human health by protecting the planet. Since its founding in 1993, CAPE’s work has achieved substantial policy victories in collaboration with many partners in the environmental and health movements. From coast to coast to coast, the organization operates throughout the country with regional committees active in most provinces and all territories.
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National Communications Director
Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
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