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Unicyclist For Climate To Greet Parliament On Opening Day

Over the past 5 months, Joseph Boutilier has cycled 5,000km on one wheel to call for action on climate change.

Join Joseph as he arrives in our nation’s capital – his final destination – to meet with MPs just as Parliament reopens for the Fall session. Join others demanding political action and unity for the climate crisis. Do it #ForOurFuture.

Joseph writes:

For the past 5 months I’ve been riding from my hometown of Victoria BC to Ottawa on one wheel to call attention to the climate crisis, demonstrate the political willpower for action, and encourage our elected leaders to work across partisan lines to address this and related environmental emergencies.

I’m just 10 days away from my final destination – Parliament Hill! Prominent MPs from 3 of our major parties have agreed to meet with me for a press conference and the media response has been overwhelming. But the moment will be so much more powerful if the turnout truly reflects the passion that Canadians have for climate action. I really need your support.

Event details:

12pm, September 15, 2014 – Parliament Hill (Meet at the Centennial Flame), Wellington St., Ottawa

Facebook Event Page:
More Information:


1unityUnicyclist crossing Canada to draw attention to climate change

By May Warren in The Star

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.

This interview has been condensed and edited

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