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Unicyclist rides through Nelson on way to Ottawa

Joseph Boutilier of Victoria is riding his unicycle from Victoria to Ottawa. - Kevin Mills Photo
Joseph Boutilier of Victoria is riding his unicycle from Victoria to Ottawa.
— image credit: Kevin Mills Photo

Joseph Boutilier of Victoria is taking a 5,000-kilometre, five-month unicycle ride across Canada to promote unity for the climate.

His trip will culminate in Ottawa after rallies, events and meetings in dozens of other communities along the route.

On Wednesday, Boutilier rode into Nelson on his unicycle.

“There is really a pretty big unicycle community in Victoria and I learned it as a teenager,” he said about his unusual skill.

He wants the Canadian government to take “rapid, strategic and collaborative action to tackle the climate change crisis, breaches to first nations treaties and inherent land rights and the muzzling of publicly-funded scientists.”

With the 2015 federal election just around the corner, Boutilier warns that time is running out for MPs and political parties to make clear commitments on environment and sustainability.

“I ask you to join me on the road, in your community, on Parliament Hill and online,” says Boutilier, “to demonstrate to our political leaders that we will no longer stand for their casual neglect of our environment, our first nations and our climate.”

This is an ambitious project to say the least. Boutilier said the Bonanza Pass (Paulson Summit) was the toughest leg of the trip since leaving the Island, and perhaps the toughest of all as he was planning to give the Kootenay Pass a miss, heading for the Balfour-Crawford Bay ferry after leaving Nelson.

“I had to walk some of the way,” he admitted regarding Paulson Summit. “If you fall on a hill, you really can’t get back on.”

Boutilier said public response to his mission has been positive and supportive.

“When I talk to people on the street they are excited that climate change is reaching a new level of grass roots awareness and it really feels like there is some momentum to affect change.”

While he is making this trip by himself, Boutilier said the public has shown its support by joining him for some parts of the trip.

“Another unicyclist joined me over Paulson Summit which was good fun because it snowed on us.”

He is encouraging people to come out and ride with him.

You can keep up with Joseph and his ride at unityfortheclimate.ca

— with files from Jim Sinclair

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