Kim Slater knows that Canada can reinvent itself, and shift from being a fossil fuel dealer to a clean energy leader. She knows her elected leaders can make it happen. But she isn't waiting for them to take the lead.
She's starting without them.
On July 8, the 32 year old Slater will lace up her sneakers and set out on a 1,170 kilometer east-to-west dash across northern British Columbia. Along the way, on highway 16, she'll meet with local communities -- many of them small, resource economy towns -- and have informal conversations about how and when Canada might transition to a clean energy economy.
All this while running the equivalent, she says, of "a marathon a day."
"There are a lot of champions who are fighting pipelines," says Slater, who hails from Whistler, B.C.
"I wanted to invest my energy in helping to create a new reality. What are the alternatives to building and expanding pipelines? Is there a better way to help us transition to a clean energy future?"
Noting that "we all need to come together" around our energy future, Slater is calling her run Band Together B.C.
She believes that a Canadian energy strategy could provide help the nation reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, and lessen the pressure to build pipelines like Northern Gateway. Premier Alison Redford of Alberta is currently working to build support for such a plan amongst her counterparts across Canada.
The length of Slater's run is symbolic: It's the same distance as the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. If approved, that pipeline would snake from Alberta's oil sands to the wild North Pacific. Though her run won't exactly trace that of the proposed pipe, it's in the general neighbourhood.
Northern Gateway would carry diluted bitumen over hundreds of watercourses in British Columbia enroute to the Great Bear Rainforest -- the last intact coastal temperate rainforest on earth. Upon reaching Kitimat, B.C., workers will pump the heavy oil aboard supertankers, which would then navigate a maze of inlets and islands before transiting often-stormy open waters enroute to China.
Slater doesn't claim to have all the answers. But she does believe there is a better way to create jobs and prosperity for Canada that doesn't carry as much risk for the wild coast and the people who live and work there.
Slater is hoping that, by gathering people around kitchen tables and in community halls along the route of her run, she can help move the province, and the country, closer to a cleaner energy future.
"I want to speak with people about what renewable options we might consider in a national energy strategy," Salter says. "What are innovative ways we can meet our energy needs and demands that do not rely so heavily on fossil fuels?"
Slater doesn't think of herself as an activist. Instead, she characterizes herself as an engaged Canadian. She attended a No Tankers rally earlier this year, but as far as protests and demonstrations go, that's it.
Slater is working to raise the last $4,000 or so she needs for her run, and has a page on IndieGoGo for anyone who wants to help.
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