Tria Donaldson

Our interview with one of B.C.'s top activists

Victoria, B.C. // Age: 26

Tria Donaldson went to her first protest at the age of six months with her labour-activist father, so it’s no surprise she grew up to be a professional boat-rocker. But it wasn’t until she was 19, living on an organic farm while studying journalism, that she focused her concern on the environment. Since then she’s worked with organizations ranging from the Sierra Club’s Youth Coalition to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives think tank, and spearheaded the nation’s largest youth conference on climate change.

It was enough to impress Tzeporah Berman, the former logging-road blockader who helped reinvent environmentalism by pressuring global buyers of Canadian resources about the ecological costs of their choices. “I watched Tria organize Power Shift 2009 in Ottawa,” says Berman. “With no budget she brought together over a thousand students for workshops on climate and had 3,000 people protesting on Parliament Hill.”

“It’s the most pressing issue of my generation,” says Donaldson from Victoria, where she is a campaigner for the Western Canada Wilderness Committee. Right now, Donaldson is fighting the proposed Site C hydro dam that would flood 83 kilometres of the Peace River valley in northeastern B.C. While hydro power may seem like something a climate campaigner would support, Donaldson says it’s important to look beyond the obvious.

“Most new demand for energy is from dirty fossil-fuel-extraction proposals and not from residential home use,” she says. Besides fuelling oil and gas developments, she adds, the dam would flood important northern farmland and create a barrier to migrating wildlife already struggling to adapt to climate change.

Part of our 2011 Top 30 under 30 feature
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