Unity for Climate

Joseph Boutilier rides his unicycle from Victoria, BC to Ottawa to promote unity for the climate http://unityfortheclimate.ca/tagged/blog

Unicyclist hopes to make climate crisis an election issue

John Bonnar, Rabble.ca, August 27, 2014 

Joseph Boutilier continues his journey across Canada to raise awareness about the climate crisis and to make climate change an issue in the 2015 federal election.

Listen to an interview with Joseph Boutilier.

Click here to learn more about Boutilier's 5 month journey from Victoria to Ottawa.


Unicyclist crossing Canada to draw attention to climate change

May Warren, Toronto Star, Aug 27 2014 

Joseph Boutilier is unicycling solo across Canada, to try to help put climate change on the agenda of the 2015 federal election.

The 24-year-old tells the Star about bear sightings and trouble balancing on his journey from Victoria to Ottawa, where he’ll hold a rally on Parliament Hill.

Why a unicycle?

Climate crisis is such a serious issue. It could use some things that are a little more light-hearted.

It’s a great icebreaker for sure.

It gets you talking to a lot of folks that might not be particularly passionate about environmental issues.

How does it work?

I’ve got all my gear with me. My tent and clothes are packed in the aluminum cases in the unicycle. Food and water are mostly in my backpack.

I’m averaging about 50K a day and rest about once a week or longer in big cities. I’m camping, billeting, [staying in] motels, whatever I can find.

I’m just connecting with environmental organizations and reaching out to anyone I can find in a given community.

What made you want to pick up and do this?

Climate change has been a big concern of mine since I first learned about it back in 2000.

I really felt it was pretty terrifying, even then, how little society was aware of it, given the magnitude of the crisis.

Then we went though awareness with things like AnInconvenient Truth and the Kyoto Protocol; it really seemed like the world was onboard to tackle it.

I sort of saw all of that unravel when Canada backed out of the Kyoto protocol in 2011.

That was devastating to me, and then to learn that we were also falling short of our Copenhagen targets. Enough was enough.

Had you unicycled before?

A tiny little bit, years ago when I was a teenager.

I got a unicycle over the Christmas break and quit my job in January and then was sort of learning and training simultaneously.

So [I was] training by cycling and running, sort of as a back-up plan.

But luckily I’m just good enough at the unicycle that I could take off.

What do you hope to achieve?

The campaign is called Unity for the Climate, because I feel like unity between or across partisan lines among our MPs will be required to really mitigate climate impacts.

Have you had any accidents?

Yeah, I’ve definitely fallen a few times; the good thing about being on a unicycle is you usually fall on your feet. But I have fallen on my face as well.

Free-mounting a unicycle is very hit or miss, sometimes it takes three or four times to get on.

There are a lot of times when I’m stuck walking because of that difficulty.

Sometimes I laugh to myself and think I should have been the first guy to walk across Canada with a unicycle. That’s what it feels like sometimes.

What are your favourite moments from the ride?

In terms of the ride, any park. Seeing genuine untouched wilderness is inspiring, and it kind of fortifies what I’m doing this for.

And just seeing local environmental initiatives … it feels like communities are picking up where the federal government has been slacking off, to put it frankly. So that’s motivating,

What’s the craziest thing that happened along the way?

I finally had a bear encounter in a campground outside Parry Sound … I had bear spray and everything but I was completely unprepared when this happened.

But I had an inflatable air mattress that I was sleeping in, so I just pulled the plug on that and tried to make as much noise as I probably ever have blowing out air. It walked away eventually.

How has unicycling through Toronto been, compared to the rest of the trip?

It’s interesting.

Downtown’s not easy, but it’s been easier than the outskirts. Coming in was hard. Downtown here, where there are actually bike lanes and people watching out for bikes, is pretty good.


Joseph Boutilier chats with Nneka and Jee about his cross-country unicycle ride to raise awareness about climate change.

CP24 Breakfast -- Aug 30, 2014

Watch the video