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Boutilier crosses Alberta border on 5,000km unicycle trek for climate action

May 13, 2014

On Monday, April 12, Joseph Boutilier ascended the Crowsnest Pass Summit and rode into Alberta after crossing British Columbia on a unicycle. The 27-day, 1,100km (700 mile) stretch was just the start of Boutilier’s planned 5,000km journey from Victoria BC, crossing five Canadian provinces and three American states en route to Ottawa with an estimated arrival of September 15, 2014.

Boutilier is using the trip to bring attention to the issue of climate change, respect for First Nations treaty and inherent sovereignty rights and the muzzling of publicly-funded scientists. “All of these issues are closely linked, and we need to demand that they’re addressed,” he said, “and what better time than before a federal election?” Boutilier fears the government is ignoring the scientific consensus on climate change, as well as related environmental concerns of Canadian scientists and First Nations alike. “First Nations are, by and large, vehemently opposed to the Northern Gateway Pipeline and other resource extraction projects which threaten to cross their territory and devastate their way of life, through immediate local impacts and climate change alike” says Boutilier. “As a settler Canadian, I’m ashamed at the lack of consultation and true negotiation over these projects.”
Boutilier hopes that a convergence of peaceful environmental campaigns will take Ottawa by storm this fall, and he hopes it will spur politicians “across party lines” to commit to drastic climate action. “The climate crisis is already costing Canadians billions of dollars, not to mention homes, jobs and even lives, through extreme weather variability and an increase in horrific weather events,” notes Boutilier. “It’s only a matter of time before Canadians express their disappointment at the government’s lack of action.” Boutilier will meet with likeminded activists when he arrives for the opening of the fall session of Parliament in Ottawa, and he hopes to speak directly to Environment Minister Leona Agluukaq as well as environmental opposition critics and party leaders from the NDP, Liberal and Green parties. Also during September in Ottawa, ClimateFast will begin its annual 4-day fast for climate action, and David Suzuki will launch a cross-Canada tour to have a healthy environment recognized as a constitutional right for all Canadians. “The climate issue deserves to dominate the discussion in the 2015 federal election,” Boutilier asserts, “And we’re going to try our hardest to make it a wedge issue.”

Joseph Boutilier’s self-supported unicycle journey has mostly been a “huge success,” he notes, thanks to the support and encouragement of hundreds of generous British Columbians and businesses who offered him billeting, food, donations and other support. “A lot of drivers honk and wave, people stop and take pictures, local media has been amazing in helping to get the word out, and it really feels like there’s a small but powerful movement growing.” Boutilier says highlights have included being introduced before Question Period in the BC legislature by MLA Gary Holman, riding the snowy Paulson summit with a fellow unicyclist, and speaking to an elementary school assembly of “smart, passionate, curious kids” in Cranbrook. Boutilier’s journey has been covered by dozens of local newspapers, eight radio programs and 4 TV reports.

Boutilier will spend a week in Blairmore to recover from a minor injury before continuing through Alberta, where he hopes momentum will continue to grow. He expects to reach Saskatchewan by early June.

For more information contact:
Joseph Boutilier
Unity for the Climate
Phone: 778-922-2531

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