Skip to main content
veris logo

Perceptions of climate justice and sustainability signposts in Waterloo region: A mixed methods qualitative study


Lead by: Kai Reimer-Watts, PhD candidate, Community Psychology, Wilfrid Laurier University, Research Associate at VERiS
Supervisor: Dr. Manuel Riemer, Department of Psychology, Wilfrid Laurier University, Director at VERiS
Dissertation Advisory Committee: Dr. Natalie Kivell, Wilfrid Laurier University, and Dr. Randolph Haluza-Delay
Funding: VERiS, the Cooperators Centre for Business & Sustainability 
Approved by: Wilfrid Laurier University Research Ethics Review Board, REB #8285


Rationale and Objectives

Symbolism is a key component of all cultures including growing engaged cultures of sustainability. A ‘signpost’, meanwhile, can be understood to be a specific type of symbol that is both directional and exists in the public sphere, pointing people in a specific direction(s) and/or towards specific action(s), which may often represent shared values, understandings and/or commonly-accepted group or societal goals.

Targeted symbols or signposts can be important leverage points for both changing culture and for catalyzing systems change – helping to challenge the current dominant paradigm and underlying mindsets that support an existing system, while encouraging unified, alternative shared direction(s).

In the context of the global climate crisis, ‘climate justice’ signposts in particular are increasingly widely used by climate activists and social movements as public symbols and particular framings for how society ‘should’ collectively respond to this global crisis, centering the need for a society-wide justice-based response – yet, despite the widespread use of climate justice language, symbols, and framing, research on public understandings of climate justice is sparse. Scholars have issued several calls to action in these areas, including that in the face of an accelerating climate crisis there’s a need for more climate and social justice imagery in the public sphere to engage our communities, co-created alongside social movements, and a need to better understand the impacts of co-created public imagery and signifiers for climate justice in the public sphere. In the face of increasing climate change disrupting our societies and particularly impacting the most vulnerable, public climate communication and symbolism matters and needs to be better understood.

What is happening?

This community-based case study addresses several of the above calls to action to help increase understanding of the efficacy of public symbols and signposts promoting climate justice in the local context of Waterloo Region. These symbols were created by members and affiliates of a local volunteer network called Faith Climate Justice Waterloo Region (FCJ) which has partnered in support of this case study (see The study honours the extensive community-based work that took place over many months to create and promote the climate justice banners across Waterloo region by FCJ members, creating a valuable opportunity for reflection, with a goal of understanding primarily two developments. These include increasing understanding of: 1) the creation and promotion process behind public faith-based symbols for climate justice that now exist on places of faith throughout Waterloo Region, and 2) their subsequent effects on climate justice awareness, discourse and actions. In addition, this study will also explore understandings of other related public symbols in the region later in the research process.

Information for potential participants

We are currently recruiting participants for this study. If you are an interested participant, please click here to get the detailed participant information. If you have any inquiries about the study or would like to receive more information about the climate justice banner, please email Kai at


Contact Us:

T: 519.884.0710 x2982
Office Location: Evolv1 Building 420 Wes Graham Way Suite #102 Waterloo, ON N2L 0J6

Office Hours:

We are currently working remotely.