The morning started like any other, breakfast then a trip to the doctor followed by a chance encounter. While wandering about aimlessly in the Student Union Building at the University of Victoria [something I do on a regular basis] I somehow ended up in the VIPRIG office. VIPRIG is a student funded research institute, that advocates for social and environmental justice. I thought, It might be a neat idea to look through their vast lending library, in order to find some books on vegetarianism. I accomplished this goal, but I also got a lesson on oil from Rose Henry. She taught me, what it means to stand up for your rights [an ode to the one and only Bob Marley] and protect what you have, before it is all gone.
At first glance, you would think Rose to be a slight woman, tender much like my grandmother. But you shouldn’t judge anyone based on looks alone, she is an accomplished activist, filmmaker and blogger. You can follow Rose on her blog, rosehenry.blogspot.com or on her other website homelessnation.org. She also has a newFacebook profile, which is cheerfully surprised by. As an indigenous person, she feels deeply connected to the land as one, of its many stewards; on her blogspot account she identifies her location as being a resident of Turtle Island. Originally from the Sliammon Nation, which is just north of Powell River in British Columbia, she has been a staple of the Victoria social justice community for many years.
While, not a formal student at the University, she is definitely a scholar in her own right, she doesn’t need a piece of paper to affirm this. She started speaking at UVic about 15 years ago to the students in the School of Social Work and her website Homeless Nation, serves as a vehicle for street people to discuss and make their often neglected views and insights public. Just recently she became a paid staff member at VIPIRG, after many of her colleagues and friends at the University, were flabbergasted to find out that she does all of her activist work for free.
She is very happy, to describe the importance of her role within this well respected community based non-for-profit organization: “being a part of the university is like being in a giant pandora box, because this age group [the university student] has the potential for implementing great social change, their potential hasn’t been tapped into yet.” This being said, she was keen to share with me her latest passion, fighting the construction of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project. If complicated this 1,172 km duel pipeline, will connect the oilsands just north of Edmonton to Kitimat, which is a small town along the northern coastline of British Columbia. Stay tuned for my next post, about the controversy surrounding the construction of the oil pipeline and Rose Henry’s efforts to prevent this pipeline from being built. Until then, may you tread lightly.