suzuki's grandson is here, get the cameras
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DESCRIPTIONThis is an opinion piece that highlights our media and societies obsession with celebrity figures, which can overshadow the hard work of many. It centers around environmental justice activist, Tamo Campos, who happens to be David Suzuki's grandson.
Scott Knowles December 5, 2014 SUZUKIS GRANDSON IS HERE, GET THE CAMERAS
For anyone who is following the protests that have broken out on Burnaby Mountain, it is likely that you have read, heard about, or watched David Suzukis grandson speak. He has been making headlines and giving speeches since November 20, when he was dragged over the injunction line by police officers and arrested. There has been a lot of hype built up around his grandson and a lot of attention focused on him. I want to set the record straight; David Suzukis grandson has not accomplished anything.
After the arrest, Suzuki wrote an open letter, it has been read thousands of times and shared all over social media. It also aided in focusing a spotlight on his grandson. He later showed up on the mountain and gave a fiery speech to the RCMP officers, stating, my grandson was dragged across the line yesterday, or the day before, and arrested, you are breaking the law! Despite a group of powerful women giving speeches, singing the womens warrior song, and crossing the injunction line to be arrested, moments before the speech, media outlets focused the majority of their attention on David Suzuki.
It is very telling that until Tamo had been revealed as David Suzukis grandson, his arrest was not highlighted. Many people on the mountain were arrested that day, and he was considered one of the many. Until of course, the media got wind that Tamo was the grandson of David Suzuki. It was at this time that his story became worthy of reporting on. It was at this time that he got an outburst of attention and support. Our society and media outlets seem to have an obsession with celebrity figures; they give more importance to celebrities than to the issue at hand. I read Suzukis open letter soon after it was written, there was one section in particular that stood out to me, My grandson is taking an active role in the struggle for human rights, social justice and environmental protection, he is not a criminal. He has done this without attempting to ride on or hide behind my coat tails. He is a role model for young people today, inspiring them to get involved in issues of their future. These words
Photo by Hannah Campbell
could not hold more truth. They are the reason that I say; David Suzukis grandson has not accomplished anything. Tamo Campos is the name of Suzukis grandson, he is one of my best friends, and he is one of the most inspirational people I have ever met. He has been working tirelessly on environmental justice organizing over the past three years, without using the leverage of his grandfather to further him in his work something that I have always appreciated. Through his teenage years, Tamo was a professional snowboarder a story that he would be able to tell much better than I. A few years ago Tamo co-founded an organization called Beyond Boarding. The aim of the organization was to leverage the energy of the snowboard community in aims of creating positive change. It has come a long way over these last few years, and has proven to be a very dynamic organization. In the winter of 2013, Tamo and his good friend John bought an old school bus for their next big adventure. We ripped the seats out of the bus, put in beds, a kitchen, storage space, and most notably, a wood burning stove. Next the bus was converted to run on waste vegetable oil and it was loaded up with snowboards, surfboards, warms clothes, cameras, and of course, a lot of vegetable oil. The plan was to take this bus throughout British Columbia to learn about the effects of industrial projects on communities, find solutions to our energy crisis, and hike into the backcountry to snowboard the untouched powder, remaining carbon neutral the entire time. Unfortunately, I was stuck in school at the time and could not join them on their adventure, but after a month of planning and working on the bus, Tamo, John and their friend Jasper were on the road. I dont think any of them could have prepared themselves for what was to come. They met people who were suffering from the social impacts of work camps and boomtowns. They met people who were living off the grid, but were still unable to escape the negative effects of industry. And most notably, they built a strong relationship with the Klabona Keepers, who describe themselves as, an organization of Tahltan elders and families who occupy and use traditional lands near Iskut, British Columbia known as Tlabne, the Sacred Headwaters of the Stikine, Nass and Skeena Rivers. This entire journey was filmed and turned into a documentary called Northern Grease, which has been shown to communities throughout BC.
Photo by Marshal Chupa
For Tamo, this journey has never really ended. He has spent the better part of the last two years living in his bus, which is now more of a home than a vehicle. The bus has been to blockades and frontline communities all across BC. From Haida Gwaii to the Unistoten Camp, Madii Lii Camp to the Sacred Headwaters, Fort McMurray to Fort St. John. Along the way Tamo has spoken with thousands of students, snowboarded in the endless backcountry and surfed waves along the coast. When he runs out of money, he makes stops to hold down a job for a while; he has worked to fund the next leg of his life by making smoothies, making ice cream, and selling snowboard gear. But none of his adventures would be complete without his friends, family and partner. Tamo has taken us places we would otherwise never have been, he has taught us things we would otherwise never have learned, and he has made strong connections with folks at every stop along the way. A few days ago, footage of Tamos arrest was released. Much of it was filmed by his partner, and my good friend, Hannah Campbell. Hannah is one of the loveliest people you will ever meet. She has been on a number of Tamos crazy adventures, and he would be the first to tell you that he has learned as much from Hannah as any of us have learned from him. The footage that was released is heartbreaking for me to watch. As Tamo is dragged over the injunction line, you can hear Hannahs screams, and you can see Tamo slip out of her hands and be swarmed by police officers.
A couple of days after Tamos arrest, five powerful women decided to cross the injunction line and be arrested. These women all have close relationships with Tamo Hannah, his partner, Tamiko, his mother, Midori, his sister, Desiree, his good friend, and Loretta, a Klabona Keeper. These are the people that make Tamo who he is today, the people that hold him up, encourage him to keep going, and teach him much of what he knows.
It is in this spirit that I say David Suzukis grandson has not accomplished anything. It is in this spirit that I say Hannahs partner, Tamikos son, Midoris brother, and my good friend Tamo, has accomplished a lot. So please, next time you recognize Tamo at a rally, ask him to come speak at your event, or add him as a friend on Facebook, make sure you are doing so because of what he has accomplished, not because he is David Suzukis grandson.
Photo by Tamo Campos