Photo: Jussi Grznar

P.O.W’s Radical

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Professional snowboarder and activist Marie-France Roy is fighting for the survival of her sport, joining the newest Protect Our Winters branch and releasing a film that goes way beyond snowboarding.

A sustainaible lifestyle is about more than composting, eating organic, and building your home from recycled or renewable materials. Just ask Marie- France Roy, the famous Canadian snowboarder who is vice chair of Protect Our Winters Canada, and ambassador for Patagonia and other snowsport companies. She’ll be the first to tell you that world travel isn’t easy on the planet.

“As a snowboarder, my footprint is massive, mainly from flights and travel needs. But as hypocritical as this lifestyle is, I speak up because I want to address the issue and work towards solutions instead of remaining hopeless and silent. We all add up to the problem so yes, ultimately, we all are hypocrites for demanding change. But solutions don’t happen from silence.”

Roy uses snowboarding as her vehicle for climate change activism. She helped open Protect Our Winters’ new Canadian outpost this fall and went on tour with the organization to mobilize the country’s outdoor industry to tackle climate change in a meaningful way. Her latest project is touring for the release of the Beyond Boarding documentary “The Radicals,” which explores environmental and cultural issues First Nations communities are battling in western Canada.

The film follows Roy, snowboarders Meghann O’Brian and Tamo Campos, and surfer Jasper Snow Rosen as they go beyond sport to raise awareness about urgent threats to the land, ecosystem and First Nations people’s ways of life. The Xwisten Nation, for example, is battling hydro- electric dams that are destroying salmon habitats in British Columbia. Salmon are vital to the overall health of the ecosystem, and their decline has been linked to the frighteningly low number of killer whales still able to survive in the area.

From words to action

Before becoming a professional snowboarder, Roy studied applied ecology at Cégep de Pocatiere, a university in Quebec, and she has followed the change in the environmental discourse over the years with interest:

“More people are talking about climate change now than they were then, fifteen years ago. But too many people still refuse to believe in climate change, or they don’t understand why we’re running out of time.”

People can’t just quit their jobs, stop traveling, or give up their cars – Roy knows that’s not realistic. And not everyone can build their own sustainable cob house like the one she built on Vancouver Island. But she hopes that air travel will someday be more sustainable, we will all work together to consume less, and we’ll prioritize biodiversity and the health of future generations.

“Arguing and pointing the finger at each other about who has the biggest footprint is not only wasting precious time and energy towards improvements, but it’s also making the rest of the population afraid to join the conversation and efforts,” Roy says.

“Humans are incredibly smart and nature is extremely resilient, so I will always have hope. We have all the tools, but we need to make this challenge an immediate priority before it is too late. We need to understand that sustainability is the ultimate ‘profit’ and that no economy can survive without clean water, air and food.”

 

Kassondra Cloos
melanie.haas@norragency.com