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

(THE NEWS – files)
Snowy days ahead for the Okanagan and Shuswap

The region could get up to 5 cm by Thursday

Flooding has become a reality for many communities in the Okanagan Valley as the region faces more extreme weather storms, blamed on the impact of climate change. (File photo)
Okanagan high target for spring flooding

Higher snowpack and mild winter precipitation levels raise concerns for Canada’s insurance industry

Penticton Search and Rescue completed two rescues in succession of each other Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021 afternoon. (PENSAR / Facebook)
Penticton Search and Rescue members execute back-to-back rescues

PENSAR had barely completed their first rescue of the day when they received a second call

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Snow covers Main Street in downtown Penticton Monday morning, Jan. 25, 2021.
First snowfall of 2021

Chances of light snow all week

Rose Sawka, 91, waves to her son through the window of a care home in Prince Rupert in October. Residents of the care home received their first vaccine dose Jan. 20. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)
B.C. care home visitor access to expand by March, Dix says

Staff, residents, essential visitors top priorities for vaccine

Group of cowboys on horses out rounding up cattle, 1888. The Greater Vernon Museum and Archives is celebrating Vernon Winter Carnival’s Wild West theme with a virtual trip back in time looking at the ranching days. (GVMA #5021)
Museum rounds up North Okanagan’s wild west past

Vernon Winter Carnival event, Meanwhile…Back at the Ranch, Feb. 9

Virtual programming will assist the Allan Brooks Nature Centre Society in spreding environmental education. (ABNCS photo)
North Okanagan nature centre online with gaming grant

Allan Brooks Nature Centre Society benefits from provincial funds

Three cars had their tires slashed in Vernon over the weekend. (Contributed)
Tires slashed at three North Okanagan residences

RCMP investigating Okanagan Landing-area incidents

Kyrell Sopotyk was drafted by the Kamloops Blazers in 2016 and played two seasons with the Western Hockey League club. (Photograph By ALLEN DOUGLAS/KTW)
Kamloops Blazer paralyzed in snowboarding accident sparks fundraiser for family

As of Jan. 24, more than $68,000 had been raised to help Kamloops Blazers’ forward Kyrell Sopotyk

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

(Pixhere photo)
B.C. dentists argue for COVID-19 vaccine priority after ‘disappointing’ exclusion from plan

Vaccines are essential for dentists as patients cannot wear masks during treatment, argues BCDA

The fine for changing lanes or merging over a solid line costs drivers $109 and two penalty points in B.C. (Screenshot via Google Street View)
B.C. drivers caught crossing, merging over solid white lines face hefty fine

Ticket for $109, two penalty points issued under Motor Vehicle Act for crossing solid lines

A registered nurse prepares a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Yukon’s Minister of Community Services, John Streiker, says he’s outraged that a couple from outside the territory travelled to a remote community this week and received doses of COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-POOL
Couple charged after travelling to Yukon to get COVID-19 vaccine

The maximum fine under the emergency measures act is $500, and up to six months in jail

Most Read