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

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

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

Vandals burned a hole in the platform at the top of the Somenos Marsh Open Air Classroom early on the morning of Thursday, April 22. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson closes Somenos Marsh viewing platform

Fletcher estimates the damage at more than $5,000.

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Monday, April 19, 2021. Younger Canadians in several provinces are now able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
AstraZeneca vaccine appointments fill up fast on Vancouver Island

More pharmacies expected to be added as supply increases

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map shows new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 11-17. (BCCDC image)
BCCDC says fresh COVID-19 cases down in most Island Health areas

Nanaimo sees its fewest new COVID-19 cases since mid January

More sleeping cabins for the homeless in the Cowichan Valley could soon be put in place if a $2.5-million grant application to the UBCM Strengthening Communities’ Services funding program is successful. (File photo)
Funding sought to expand homeless initiatives in Cowichan Valley

$2.5-million grant would see more sleeping cabins and outreach projects

The old Stanley Gordon school in Lake Cowichan. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette file)
Editorial: Old school properties represent potential for our areas

There are opportunities, often sitting right in the middle of our small communities.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

The conservation service confirmed they do not relocate cougars from settled areas but that euthanasia is not necessarily the fate for an animal in the Fanny Bay area. The hope is that the animal will move on to wild areas. (File photo)
Woman hopes cat-stalking Fanny Bay cougar can avoid euthanization

Conservation officers do not relocate the animals from Vancouver Island

Tofino residents expressed frustration over a recent post by Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett that falsely claimed all residents have been vaccinated. (Westerly file photo)
Resort owner apologizes for suggesting Tofino is safe to travel to

Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett apologizes to community and visitors

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Police executed a search warrant at the Devils Army Clubhouse on Petersen road in Campbell River on August 10, 2017.
Murder trial: Victim left to conclude out-of-court settlement on the day he disappeared

Trial of Richard Alexander in death of John Dillon Brown continues in B.C. Supreme Court in Victoria

Most Read