Biologist and writer Jamie Bastedo interviewed 11 prominent Canadian activists from several generations and tells us what makes them tick in his new book Protectors of the Planet: Environmental Trailblazers from 7 to 97. Photo: Submitted

Nelson author launches book on Canadian environmental heroes

Jamie Bastedo’s Protectors of the Planet looks at common traits of successful activists

When the renowned B.C. naturalist and wolf biologist John Theberge was eight years old, he started a field journal in which he drew detailed drawings of butterflies. He kept it up for the rest of his life, which he has spent as a scientist and writer advocating for wilderness.

When Sophia Mathur organized the first Canadian school climate strike in 2018 in Sudbury, Ont., she was 12, inspired by Greta Thunberg’s strikes in Sweden that eventually caught on around the world. She had already been a climate activist for several years before that, and she says she’s just getting started.

Theberge and Mathur are two of 11 Canadian “environmental trailblazers” that author and biologist Jamie Bastedo of Nelson has profiled in his new book Protectors of the Planet: Environmental Trailblazers from 7 to 97.

Bastedo says that in the face of climate change, deforestation, species extinction, and ocean pollution, he was looking for fresh hope.

“I reached out to people who embody a sense of acting in very positive ways, in inspiring ways, in practical ways,” he says.

Other profiles include Sheila Watt-Cloutier, champion of Inuit culture; Anne Innis Dagg, giraffe researcher; Elizabeth May, activist and politician; and Ian McAllister, the writer, photographer, and activist who was a driving force behind the creation of the Great Bear Rainforest.

Bastedo interviewed them all, wondering what qualities or personal traits they share. He discovered some common threads in their childhoods.

“They all had an early sense of dreaming a better world and a willingness to work hard,” he says. “They have a belief in the power of one to make a difference. There’s a real faith element to this sense of activism – finding one’s own voice, trusting in their own kind of wisdom, doing what they love.”

Bastedo said they all rigorously studied their chosen subject and have done their homework, from an early age.

“They explore their subject from many angles, gather information. Information is power – actually several of them said that. But at the same time it’s not a head game, it’s very much capture the heart and the hand will follow.”

He said they all had adult mentors, often a teacher or parent.

Also profiled are Ethan Elliott, champion for bees; Kathleen Martin, sea turtle activist; Rupert and Franny Yakelashek, youth environmental rights activists; Karsten Heuer, wildlife biologist and explorer; and Cornelia Oberlander, green city landscape architect.

Bastedo says he wanted to explore a variety of environmental issues, profiling people from all generations and different parts of the country, hoping to find topics and themes in which readers might recognize themselves.

He admits there were some things he did not want to write about. He didn’t want to write a book focusing solely on climate change. He didn’t want to write another book of bad news facts, but rather about how some successful activists have dealt with those facts.

At the same time, he didn’t want to hide in an easy form of naive hope. He quotes Ian McAllister:

“I feel sometimes that we’re witnessing the tail end of Earth’s magnificence and it’s just heartbreaking to think that my kids might not get to experience its true beauty, that they’re entering a very fragile, uncertain time. …”

“We’ve had so many wake-up calls in the past few years,” McAllister continues, “It’s hard to believe we need more … We already know more than enough. Now it’s just a matter of waking up and taking action.”

And Bastedo quotes Elizabeth May: “Being hopeful is not the same as being unrealistic. This is not the dreamy, dewy-eyed hope of the deluded … hope is hard work. Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up.”

Protectors of the Planet is about people who have their sleeves rolled up. They were so enamoured of the world from an early age that acting for the planet seemed to spring naturally out of wonderment and love.

The book is available now in bookstores, online, and at Touchstones in Nelson where there will be a book launch on Nov. 22 at 2 p.m.



bill.metcalfe@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Protectors of the Planet by Jamie Bastedo, pictured here in West Kootenay wildfire smoke, will launch at Touchstones Museum on Nov. 22. Photo: Jon Steinman

Just Posted

A health-care worker prepares to swab a man at a walk-in COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal North, Sunday, May 10, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)
Interior Health records 21 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

Thirty-six cases remain active; two people are in the hospital, one of whom is in intensive care

Advance voting has now started in polling places throughout the Fraser-Nicola riding. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Advance voting now open in Fraser-Nicola

Advance voting runs from Oct. 15 to Oct. 21 in B.C.’s election

Honour House Society founder and President Allan De Genova (l) and Robert Parkinson, Health and Wellness Director, Ambulance Paramedics of BC and Director, Honour House Society, at the opening of Honour Ranch near Ashcroft, Oct. 5, 2019. Photo credit: Barbara Roden
Honour Ranch makes use of ‘down time’ to complete essential work

Unable to run programs because of COVID-19, volunteers made the site ready for year-round use

Historic Ashcroft sign, date unknown. (Photo credit: Wendy Coomber)
Restaurant patio licences extended in Ashcroft for another year

Council decision enables establishments to keep outdoor patios through October 2021

Seventh-Day Adventist Church Pastor Charles Lomudak (l) with Daniel Collett and Marina Papais (r of sign), Gary Dost (third from r), Gwen and Katie Henderson (4th and 5th from r), and congregants with the church’s new sign. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
New mosaic at Ashcroft church labour of love for congregants

Seventh-Day Adventist Church worked with local artists to design, create new sign

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Kootenay couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Most Read