In the Blog

Emily Hunter: Eco-Warrior

April 2nd, 2009     by Desirée O     Comments

Every Thursday I profile a new incredible woman, each from a different walk of life. Different professions, causes, backgrounds, ethnicities, orientations, and anything/everything else!

So without further delay, let me introduce the amazing Emily Hunter…

Emily Hunter may at first been recognized as the daughter of Bobbi and Robert Hunter, famous Canadian environmentalists, but at 24, she is already an avid speaker for eco-issues, has an impressive list of journalistic credits including writing for This Magazine and Eye Weekly, as well as broadcasting work with MTV Canada, CTV Canada AM, CTV News, City TV and CP24.

As an environmentalist, Emily joined her first campaign at 19: a Galapagos conservation campaign with Sea Shepherd, one of the most radical environmental groups in the world, known for non-lethal but aggressive action like ramming ships at sea and sinking ships in port. She has also worked on other campaigns with Sea Shepherd to protect marine wildlife, as well as Canadian Youth Climate Coalition (CYCC) on climate change awareness and action, EarthRoots on anti-forestry issues, and Greenpeace against the Tar Sands project.

Her most recent campaign this past winter was with Sea Shepherd ship The M/Y Steve Irwin in the Antarctic waters to stop illegal whaling by the Japanese government. With incidents like a massive collision between their ship and a harpoon ship, they were able to help save 500 whales this year and cut the kill quota by 50%! (check out a video at the end of this post to see the amazing work of the Sea Shepherd crew)

What drives you to do what you do?

Because there is a need to do what I do. There are a lot of people in this world who sit passively to injustice and destruction, contributing to it by doing so. Numerous individuals think about the issues of our time, read about them and give lip-service to them but ultimately do nothing. Some fight on social causes. But very few fight against environmental genocide.

How does being a woman empower / challenge you?

Being a woman is difficult, especially in the environmental movement. It seems that as one movement progress, another is degraded. I find that women are constantly taken out of the picture with environmentalism. My mother, Bobbi Hunter, who was a co-founder of Greenpeace, first treasurer of Greenpeace and the first women to save a whale by putting her body between a harpoon and a whale - is completely cut out of history. People know of Robert Hunter, Rex Weyler, Patrick Moore (all co-founders of Greenpeace), Paul Watson (Sea Shepherd founder), and David Suzuki (world renowned environmentalist). And sure, we have Dian Fossey who fought to protect Gorillas in Africa.

But the reality is, the face of environmentalism is predominantly masculine. Women are cut out of the picture when it comes to the portrayal and voice of environmentalism. Therefore, I find my fight as a female environmental activist is just as much a fight for women’s equality and against patriarchy as it is against the destructive engines depleting our world. The two battles are very much intertwined.

What advice would you give to young women who want to follow in your footsteps?

Do not give up yourself for the greater cause you are working toward. Working on something like “saving the planet” asks you to give so much of yourself to fight for something larger than you. Time, energy, strength, brevity, even friends and family. Giving a lot and being selfless is a rewarding experience and seeing the “bigger picture” is mind-blowing. But do not give up your identity; it is the very thing that will carry you through. But it is also the first thing that too many activists give up.

Name one person, place, or thing every young woman should know about?

Albany, Western Australia. Albany, 30 years ago, was a slaughterhouse for the largest mammal on the planet - the whale. The coastal waters there were filled with blood of thousands of sperm and endangered humpback whales. And the killing of whales was the main industry in this port-town.

After a protest against this whaling town, that people like my mother were leaders on, Albany has become a symbol that things can change. Today, Australia does not kill whales and Albany is an eco-tourist Mecca as hundreds of thousands of tourists flock there every year to do whale watching. Whale watching is now an industry that generates far more than the whale killing ever did. New jobs and a new economy were created in terms of a “green” enterprise and now the Albany people are living large off of it. Ex-whalers are now either tourist boat captains or protesters themselves fighting for anti-whaling against other countries that continue.

There is a wind farm that generates most of the energy for Albany and organic local farming is the standard for residents there. Whaling is a thing of the past and “green” is a thing of the present.

What is the most important thing we can do in order to change the world?

The reality is there is not “one thing we can do to change the world.” It is this very concept that we can do our part, like using less plastic bags when we do our grocery shopping, that is not changing a thing at all. If anything, we need to think about the big picture, connect the dots and change our entire lifestyles. It sounds too grandiose to be able to happen. But it can. If we began to use our talents, labor and skills in a culture of creation and sustainable instead of a culture of destruction - we could “change the world.”

Artists become art-activists creating art and awareness on the issues, journalists write more about the issues of our times than what sells in the agenda of big business, politically inclined become the real leaders we need today and not status-quo keepers, those that have keen business-sense create ecologically-sane entrepreneurial enterprises, and the fighters fight for all our lives instead of kill some to protect their own.

For more on Emily’s work and eco-activism, visit her website here. And to see footage of some of the action the crew of the M/Y Steve Irwin took to stop the illegal whaling this past February (including the collision mentioned above), check out the video below:

“At 1800 Hours the harpoon vessels Yushin Maru No. 1 and the Yushin Maru No.3 decided to run the Sea Shepherd blockade to transfer two dead whales to the flensing deck of the Nisshin Maru. The Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin was blocking the slipway to prevent the transfer in order to shut down the illegal Japanese whaling operations. As the Nisshin Maru attempted to hook onto the dead whale, the Steve Irwin and the Yushin Maru No.3 collided with the forward starboard side of the Steve Irwin and the port stern side of the harpoon vessel coming together…” read the rest here.

Tags: shameless women

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