Joseph Boutilier is setting out to make a difference this spring and summer in a unique way.
The 23-year-old from Victoria sets out this Saturday, April 5 on an endeavour called Unity for the Climate, a 5,000 km unicycle ride from Victoria to Ottawa to raise awareness for climate-related issues across Canada.
“Climate change is an all encompassing issue that touches everyone,” Boutilier said in an interview with the News Review.
“I want to create awareness around climate action.
“Our government’s priorities aren’t where they should be and with the federal election coming up next year we need some clear goals and commitments from political leaders regarding our environment and sustainability.”
The ride will take Boutilier about five months and will culminate in Ottawa in September. Along the way he will stop in communities where he will meet with citizens and local government officials.
“The unicycle is a great conversation starter,” laughed Boutilier, adding that he hopes his unique mode of transportation will open dialogue with people he meets along the way.”
Boutilier said people are calling him an environmentalist.
“I don’t think I deserve that distinction. I’m just concerned about climate change.
“I want to get the conversation going and unite people to rally for change in our environmental policies. I don’t think many people realize how grave the outcome of climate change will be, even over the next three to five years, let alone decades from now.”
Boutilier also added he wants to use the ride as a way to inspire and encourage other young people to get involved.
“I do feel there is a sense of apathy among the younger generation. We need more young people to get involved, vote and make climate change a bigger issue,” said Boutilier.
Saanich North and the Islands NDP MLA Gary Holman said activism like Boutilier’s is inspiring.
“Right now we’re not doing enough to address climate change but I’m so impressed with young people like Joseph stepping up,” said Holman.
“The province of B.C. is ahead, but we’re [all] still behind,” continued Holman
Boutilier will start his journey on Saturday from Mile 0 in James Bay. A sendoff celebration at Beacon Park in Sidney will take place from 11 a.m. to noon that day and will include live music.
For more information on Boutilier’s Unity for the Climate ride, visit www.unityfortheclimate.ca.