Eco-cyclists on cross-country trek

Finding a cause you really believe in can be hard, but one Victoria native and one Aussie are making tough activist work look easy

Finding a cause you really believe in can be hard, but one Victoria native and one Aussie are making tough activist work look easy.

Jaime Hall and Nigel Jackett are so committed to supporting the Ancient Forest Alliance, they’ve dedicated six months of their lives and $10,000 of personal funds to cycle 7,500 kilometres across Canada to raise awareness for the AFA’s Vancouver Island cause. Last May, the two flew from their home in Australia to start the trip in St. John’s, N.L., and they’re set on raising $10,000 by the time they cycle into Victoria this fall.

Cycling across Canada “has been a dream of mine for a long time, but we just needed to find the right reason to do it,” says Hall, 25, a musician who grew up here. “There are so many issues out west that a lot of the country doesn’t know about, even though it affects us all. This has been a wonderful way to spread that knowledge.”

The two are linking their adventures with the audience through their blog, tilthelasttree.com, and have requested pledges every time they spot a new species of bird. When Monday first talked to the pair, they had spotted 168 species and had raised $1,300 — and they’d only reached New Brunswick. Now, they’ve counted 240 different birds, and have topped $2,140 in Ontario.

“Ken Wu and the Ancient Forest Alliance have put such a lot of work into this really great, passionate organization, and we thought that donating our cause to them was a perfect fit,” says Jackett, 27, a bird biologist from Australia who studied and surveyed for the B.C. government on Vancouver Island.

Ken Wu, founder of the AFA, says the organization is thrilled with the committed support, as well as the way Hall and Jackett are working to raise awareness to issues that can be hidden from the rest of the country. Hall met Wu about five years ago, and the two have conversed on wilderness and eco-awareness matters ever since.

“Their goal is to raise $10,000 for us, which would be huge, as in 2010 we ran the whole organization on just over $50,000,” says Wu. “We’re totally grateful to have as informed and dedicated supporters as Jaime and Nigel helping to raise funds and awareness for our campaign.”

This year, the AFA has been focused on working with the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group, a First Nations band between Shawnigan Lake and Nanaimo, in their bid to stop large-scale clearcutting of the former TimberWest lands — lands which were sold to two public sector pension funds without consultation of local First Nations. The AFA has also kept up awareness hikes for Avatar Grove, the Port Renfrew forest that largely put the group in public radar, and has been planning a major rally for September. M

To make a donation or download Hall’s by-donation songs, visit tilthelasttree.com.

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