Vancouver-born Greenpeace celebrates its 40th anniversary

Feature story - September 14, 2011
Vancouver – Canada will play a special role in the 40th anniversary celebrations of Greenpeace, the world’s largest, independent environmental organization.

Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo will receive a “Greenpeace Day” proclamation from the City of Vancouver tomorrow when the organization marks its official birthday. And next month, two Canadians will be featured in the launch of the world’s first purpose-built environmental campaigning vessel, the Rainbow Warrior III.

“Countless communities around the world owe a debt of gratitude to our early rainbow warriors, to their vision, tenacity and inspiration,” said Naidoo. “Their inspiration became a global organization dedicated to protecting and preserving our environment and to proving how a small group of people can change the world. Today, we invite people everywhere to join us in working for a green and peaceful future."

One of the ship’s first crew will be Greenpeace fundraiser and activist Seychelle Cloutier-Collard. The Montreal-based Cloutier-Collard shares her birthday with the organization and is one of nine “New Hands on Deck” who celebrate the diversity, vitality and vision of the organization after 40 years of campaigning.

The “Godmother” of the new ship is Melina Laboucan-Massimo, a member of the Lubicon Cree First Nation and a climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace based in Edmonton. She will have the honour of christening the new Rainbow Warrior III – named after a Cree legend – when it launches on October 14th from its shipyard in Bremen, Germany. Laboucan-Massimo will break a bottle of White Bear Wine from B.C.’s Okanagan Valley on the ship’s hull in recognition of one of the organization’s most important victories.

The conservation agreement to protect B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest is featured in the first of a series of international public service announcements released today by Greenpeace. The historic agreement to protect the world’s largest intact coastal temperate rainforest in 2007 is highlighted as a model of cooperation for industry, government, First Nations and environmentalists.

Greenpeace’s first campaign began with a crew of 12 sailing to Amchitka, Alaska intent on shutting down U.S. underground nuclear tests there. Although a bomb was still detonated, the daring trip sparked global condemnation and nuclear testing ended shortly thereafter. The island was later declared a bird sanctuary.

Last year, Greenpeace released a two-disc CD set commemorating the 1970 concert fundraiser that financed the voyage to Amchitka. Featuring Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Phil Ochs, the re-mastered live concert recording captures iconic hits from the fabled musicians and rare cover-song performances.

On Saturday, the public is invited to a day of song and activities at the Rainbow Warrior Festival at Vancouver’s Jericho Beach. The festival will feature campaign workshops, banner painting, Zodiac rides, climb training, a photo exhibit, musical acts and special guest speakers. It’s an opportunity for the whole family to spend a day outdoors and learn about environmental activism.

Greenpeace promotes science-based solutions for the planet with the support of 2.9 million supporters worldwide. With offices in 41 countries and over 1,200 staff, Greenpeace is the largest, most recognizable organization ever founded in Vancouver.

Event details and information on Greenpeace’s anniversary are available at www.greenpeace.ca/40

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