Building unity on a unicycle

Joseph Boutilier, is on a mission, not simply for himself, but for entire country —if not the world.

Joseph Boutilier is on a 5

Joseph Boutilier is on a 5

Twenty-three year old film school student, gaming designer and political activist, Joseph Boutilier, is on a mission,  not simply for himself, but for entire country —if not the world.

His mission is to promote unity for climate change, first nations treaty breaches and what he terms ‘the muzzling‘ of publicly-funded scientists. So, Boutilier has embarked on a journey from Victoria to Parliament Hill in Ottawa. His unusual mode of transportation – a unicycle.

Beginning at Mile 0 at James Bay, Victoria, BC on April 5, this young environmental activist began his gruelling 5 month, 5,000 km journey east to Parliament Hill in Ottawa where he plans to make a change – single-handedly and single-wheeled.

What got Boutilier invested in such a feat? He had this to say.

“I used to be involved in community work, non-profit work and for the last three years I was working a desk job and it was a good job, good people, smart folks and good pay and all that,  but I was sort of out of the loop in terms of community engagement,” says Boutilier of his daily  grind. “I just wasn’t able to participate in the same way as I used to and I just felt out of the loop.”

Feeling as though he hadn’t been engaged in politics, volunteering and the community for such a long time, really made him think of not only what he was missing, but how he could be of help in some way.

“I was involved with the Victoria Youth council for many years,” says Boutilier  of his investment into the community, “and I worked for an organization called Youth Corp which is a branch of  the Service Project Society coordinating the Youth Council when it was just getting started.”

Deciding he needed to get out of  the work world hamster wheel for now and become more involved in important issues at hand, Boutilier chose to raise funds (including his own) through donations and grants to try and make that difference.

“I just wasn’t engaged in politics like I used to be,” says Boutilier of his three year diversion into the working life. “I just came to miss the feeling that I had an impact into the community, so I wanted to do something big  and wanted to see what Canada was doing, or not doing for climate action. It was really disheartening to me, so I decided that was going to be my cause.”

So, Boutilier, who feels a natural attachment to politics and community affairs, walked away from his technological background, purchased a unicycle and made a plan to make that difference.

“I think the turning point for me was when Canada backed out of the Kyoto Protocol—it just had a put-down impact on the international negotiations for carbon reductions and it just felt inherently un-Canadian to me,” says Boutilier.

At an average of 35 kilometers per day, making overnight lay-overs along the way, motels, billeting or camping overnight under the stars. As of this writing, Boutilier was invited to stay the night at Councillor Kim Maynard’s home before heading out to points east the next morning.

“People have been really supportive and friendly—so far so good. I’m super excited.”

Boutilier expects to arrive in Ottawa by September 13 where he will meet up with others at rally and protest at Parliament Hill.

Check out Boutilier’s progress along the way on his blog at www.unityfortheclimate.ca.