A couple of weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of attending a conversation with two renowned environmentalists, Bill McKibben and Melina Laboucan-Massimo.
This event was a fundraiser to aid in generating contributions to support the 200 defendants from the Burnaby Mountain arrests. I was happy to attend this event and support the brave climate defenders that are know facing the Kinder Morgan Corporation in court.
If you would like to make a direct donation to the legal fund for those arrested on Burnaby Mountain, click here.
The entire evening was electrified with intriguing dialogue and I had the exceptional honour of meeting both Melina and Bill in person. It meant a great deal to me to share how they both have inspired me in my pursuits as an environmentally conscious individual.
Incase you're unfamiliar with Bill or Melina, here is a brief intro, to a few of their many accomplishments:
Melina Laboucan-Massimo is a member of the Lubicon Cree First Nation from Northern Alberta. She has worked on social, environmental and climate justice issues for the past 15 years. Currently a Fellow at the David Suzuki Foundation, Melina's research is focused on Climate Change, Indigenous Knowledge and Renewable Energy. Melina holds a Masters degree in Indigenous Governance at the University of Victoria with a focus on Renewable Energy in First Nation communities. As a part of Masters thesis Melina completed a 20.8 kW solar installation in her home community of Little Buffalo in the heart of the tar sands, which powers the health centre.
For over a decade, Melina worked as a Climate and Energy Campaigner with Greenpeace Canada and the Indigenous Environmental Network internationally. She has written for a variety of publications and produced short documentaries on the tar sands, climate change, water issues and Indigenous cultural revitalization. Melina has studied, campaigned and worked in Brazil, Australia, Mexico, Canada and across Europe focusing on resource extraction, climate change impacts, media literacy and Indigenous rights & responsibilities.
Her most recent project is hosting a TV series called Power to the People which documents renewable energy, food security and eco-housing in Indigenous communities across North America. Melina currently serves on the Board of 350.org as well as the steering committees of Indigenous Climate Action, Energy Futures Lab, and Seeding Sovereignty.
Bill McKibben is an author and environmentalist who in 2014 was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel.’ His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages; he’s gone on to write a dozen more books. He is a founder of 350.org, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement, which has organized twenty thousand rallies around the world in every country save North Korea, spearheaded the resistance to the Keystone Pipeline, and launched the fast-growing fossil fuel divestment movement.
The Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was the 2013 winner of the Gandhi Prize and the Thomas Merton Prize, and holds honorary degrees from 18 colleges and universities. Foreign Policy named him to their inaugural list of the world’s 100 most important global thinkers, and the Boston Globe said he was “probably America’s most important environmentalist.”
A former staff writer for the New Yorker, he writes frequently for a wide variety of publications around the world, including the New York Review of Books, National Geographic, and Rolling Stone. He lives in the mountains above Lake Champlain with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, where he spends as much time as possible outdoors . In 2014, biologists honored him by naming a new species of woodland gnat— Megophthalmidia mckibbeni--in his honor.
Both Bill and Melina are active public speakers. If you have connected with their projects, books or simply their words, I'd suggest you find an opportunity to experience their dialogue in person.
I am very thankful I did, and will surely look forward to more opportunities to hear them speak in the future!