Today, Kim Slater is running a marathon. Tomorrow, she’ll be running another one. By Aug. 21, Slater will have run a marathon nearly everyday that will total the length of the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline.
That length is no coincidence. Slater is running for her campaign, Band Together B.C., which aims to share stories and ideas related to tar sands alternatives and raise awareness for developing a national energy strategy.
Yesterday, Slater took a day of rest in Terrace, stopping by city hall to invite council into the clean-energy conversation. Council agreed to sign letters endorsing the need for a clean energy strategy in Canada — but they’re far from the only local government body asked to sign on.
Her aim is not only to encourage dialogue about clean energy, but to eventually lead to the creation of a national energy strategy, which she said Canada is behind on, as many other countries already have one in place.
Slater’s campaign would like that strategy to address energy security, jobs and prosperity, and climate change.
This part of Slater’s journey has been to reach as many community groups and government representatives as she can.
“There are crises so daunting and big that you are paralyzed with fear. We need to activate people.”
When Slater decided to do a marathon in January of this year, she needed motivation beyond running a good time.
“I never thought I would run a marathon,” said Slater. She said she thought about ways that she would motivate herself to train and the answer was connecting her run to issues she cares about. At the same time, she was wondering what action she could take to develop clean energy in Canada.
“The Northern Gateway Pipeline is one of many proposals … if it goes through would change the face of the north,” she said. “The more I read about (Enbridge), the economics, the communities, First Nations, the environment, I learned it was a risky proposal with nothing to gain.”
Slater then started a blog. “But I thought ‘No one cares if I run one marathon. It needs to be bigger than that,’” she said.
She came up with the idea to trek across B.C.’s north and posted her story on indiegogo.com, a campaign fundraising platform in which people who want to raise money can tell their story, set a funding target and earn financial support.
Her story was well-received. She raised $15,000 in approximately 60 days.
Then she bought a support vehicle, a Delica van converted to run on waste vegetable oil. Her fuel has been 100 per cent donated.
The journey began, but involved is much more than running. At each stop along the way, Slater has been connecting with community members and leaders through forums, running together, or city council presentations, like the one she made to Terrace, Monday Aug. 13.
“I want to cross-pollinate ideas from community to community,” she said.
Slater added she is not only concerned with the environmental impacts of the Northern Gateway Proposal, but that public participation and feedback is being denied.
“I feel that the democratic process has been stripped away,” she said. “I wanted to foster public participation, because it’s being taken away.”
Slater is 32, born in Guelph Ont. but has lived in B.C. for many years.
After the running is over, “the next step is the real work,” she said.
Slater said she plans to share the narrative and all the material she’s obtained through her run with national leaders. She added that she also plans to continue growing the network she’s already established and continue connecting people.
And she plans to do it all with a sense of optimism, starting form the ground and working her way up.
“I have absolute faith in grassroots movements,” Slater said. “That’s where the action happens.
“Municipal governments make decisions that are going to affect people.”
Terrace was one municipal government engaged by Slater’s presentation.
Councillor Marylin Davies commended Slater on her efforts and Mayor Dave Pernarowski agreed to run with her through town.
“I’m humbled by your efforts to bring attention (to Northern Gateway Pipeline),” said Councillor Bruce Bidgood. He added that he thought any National Energy Strategy should include domestic control of Canada’s resources, to which Slater agreed.
Slater’s last run will take her into Prince Rupert on Aug. 21, where she’ll host another open meeting. On Aug. 19, she’ll host an open house at Lakelse Lake Provincial Park Picnic site at 3:00 p.m. All are welcome to attend.
“This is a historic moment. It’s now or never to act,” she said.