Named after B.C.’s provincial flower, Dogwood is a people-powered organization driven by a shared love of place. We bring together voters from all over the political spectrum to work on the urgent challenges facing our home.
Our staff work out of Victoria, Courtenay and Burnaby, anchoring volunteer organizing teams in dozens of key ridings. The goal is to build a grassroots base of engaged citizens ready to take action outside of the existing political party system.
We look for tipping points: places where enough citizen pressure can rewrite a law, reverse a bad decision or convince a politician to take a stronger position. We work steadily to identify thousands of like-minded voters in key constituencies. We build organizing teams made up of local people committed to each other and the place they live. Then we mobilize.
When the moment is right, Dogwood channels large-scale citizen action both online and offline. This might be an election, a leadership race, court case or regulatory review. The rest of the year we train organizers, build capacity among our allies and serve as a watchdog on our campaign issues.
Want to see organizers in action? Attend an event!
We only take on issues in our home province. We pick battles that fit into our broader strategy to transform politics in B.C. And once we commit to a campaign, we maintain focus for as many years are necessary until we win.
Dogwood is probably best known for the No Tankers campaign. Since 2007, we’ve helped prevent a massive expansion of carbon pollution and oil tanker traffic on the West Coast. Our supporters are definitely concerned about climate change and oil spills. But we don’t just work to protect the environment.
What’s at stake in all our campaigns is self-determination: the right of local people to have a say over what happens in their home. Our core belief is that decisions should be made by the people who have to live with them. Often that means taking on powerful CEOs, far-off bureaucrats and unaccountable politicians.
The good news is if there’s any place where organized people can win back control over their shared future, it’s British Columbia. First Nations across most of the province never signed away control of the land, giving Indigenous legal systems real weight. And B.C. citizens share a unique love of place and spirit of civic engagement.
In combination, these two forces are starting to change how power is won and wielded in British Columbia – and could even shape the future of the global climate. We see the potential in our conversations every day. That’s what gives us hope.
Helping David beat Goliath since 1999!
By day, Adam has spent a decade raising funds for hospitals, festivals and symphonies across Canada. By night, he has spent half his lifetime singing songs about the need for change and organizing community folk festivals. He once had the distinct pleasure of losing to Tanya Tagaq at the Canadian Folk Music Awards! In that moment it all became clear: Adam would leave the art to an unstoppable force of nature like Tanya Tagaq, and join an unstoppable force for change, like Dogwood.
As Dogwood’s Strategic Partnerships Officer, Adam connects with supporters and funders to make sure Dogwood has the resources in place to be an effective conduit for action. Born and raised on Vancouver Island to a family of immigrant lumberjacks and millworkers, he often spends weekends in the woods contemplating Uncle Johnny’s cautionary words: “We never thought we could cut it all down.
Laura joined Dogwood’s staff in 2013 and has held three positions at the organization. She spent her first three years starting and running Dogwood’s Beyond Coal campaign, then moved over to become Director of Organizing from 2016 to March 2019. Laura is now Director of Administration & Human Resources on Dogwood’s Executive Team.
First trained in community and labour organizing in the early 2000s in San Diego, Laura has many years of experience working in non-profits and on political, environmental and social justice campaigns from Oregon to California to B.C.
Laura lives the charmed life of a dual citizen on beautiful Burnaby mountain with her husband Jeremy, sons Henry and Leo, and a tuxedo cat.
After a long career as a senior director and auditor in the BC public service Ian has recently come out of retirement to work for the environment and social justice movement. Outside of the office Ian is an avid road cyclist and an active member of the BC Masters Cycling Association.
Cheryl first became environmentally involved with the Kalum Land Resource Management Plan in 1993 and has been immersed in these issues ever since. Cheryl is one of the key organizers of Douglas Channel Watch, and a Director of the Lakelse Watershed Stewards Society. She was a vocal intervenor in the Enbridge Judicial Review Process and has been a leader in the grassroots community organizing on many of the proposed hydrocarbon projects in the Kitimat valley. When she’s not standing up for her local lands and waters Cheryl likes to get out and cross country ski, sail the waters of the North Coast, take canoe trips throughout the Interior, and of course be involved with preschool and school age grandchildren that live close by. Cheryl lives on the shores of Lakelse Lake near Terrace B.C.
Cheryl spent the first 15 years of her life in rural Alberta, when the “Athabasca Oil Sands” were a myth of the future. Her family were Ukrainian immigrants who changed their surname to escape discrimination. She grew up running wild near her childhood home on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, spending weekends hiking and ski racing in the Rocky Mountains.
A love of the ocean brought her family to Vancouver, and her brother’s marriage to a fisherman’s daughter landed Cheryl with a job on a salmon seiner for 5 seasons to finance her education – a diploma from BCIT and a B.Sc. from UBC in Ag. Economics.
It was the demise of the commercial salmon fishing industry due to mismanagement on many fronts that inspired Cheryl to take action. Living in the U.S. for 12 years during which Bush was elected — twice — was icing on the cake. Back in B.C. and when time allowed, she started to volunteer with Dogwood, building teams in 4 provincial ridings along Vancouver’s North Shore.
Helping citizens to amplify their voices in this time of climate crisis is Cheryl’s passion, and Dogwood organizing provides her with a powerful connection to a community of like-minded people.
When she’s not canvassing or leading team meetings, Cheryl is stand-up paddling near her home, doing yoga, or hiking with friends. Her mantra: Compassion for Future Generations
Jess is a professor at the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia where she teaches classes in environmental politics and researches attempts to make biodiversity conservation investable and profitable. As co-founder of the international network the CBD Alliance, Jess has participated in over a decade of major negotiations of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and worked with many NGOs and social movements (from the North and South) to develop analysis and positions on global biodiversity issues. Jess and her partner Ryan live with their three kids in Vancouver.
The awe of nature entered into Shiraz’s heart from canoeing Ontario’s Algonquin Park as a teenager. Having inherited a social justice mindset from his father, who was involved in South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement, these streams merged when he moved to coastal British Columbia at the height of the Clayoquot Sound movement in the early 90s. At UBC, Shiraz helped establish the nascent anti-globalization movement through his work on the APEC protest in 1997. He worked for the grassroots Environmental Youth Alliance, transforming an industrial wasteland in Strathcona into a beautiful nature refuge. In 2007, he moved to the Vancouver Island coastal community of Sooke, balancing his work as a programmer with the bountiful, stunning, immersive nature of the southern Island. A family came soon thereafter, and today when he is not deep in code, he looks out his cabin-office window to see his children bouncing on the trampoline below. He joins Dogwood with a passion to keep tankers out of the Salish waters in which he paddleboards with the same awe he canoed the lakes of Algonquin.
Maggie grew up in coastal BC and still prefers being in the ocean to being on land. In a confusing twist of fate, she ended up landlocked in northeastern BC for a stint while she earned a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies at UNBC. She then moved further north to live in Chetwynd where she was the Editor of the local newspaper. Living in the north, in the centre of extensive resource extraction, gave her a defined commitment to helping citizens gain control of their resources and their land.
After returning to the coast, and with her northern experience inspiring her, Maggie joined the Dogwood team in October 2009. After six or so years working in fundraising and administration and progressively diving deeper into digital tasks and tools, she took on the role of Head of Digital Systems in 2016. She is committed to furthering Dogwood’s capacity by maximizing the potential of digital tools and data resources and enjoys the digital challenges presented by grassroots organizing.
When not wrangling data Maggie is busy wrangling her son George and two dogs Eta and Ira. All four prefer camping over most things in life and Maggie still retreats to the ocean when things get fuzzy.
In 2020 Jamie brought her enthusiasm and diverse background to the Dogwood team as the Development and Digital Coordinator. She has a civil engineering degree, a certificate in Information and Computer Systems and 7 years of environmental consulting work under her belt. She’s passionate about all things data and constantly on the pursuit to parse out valuable information in seas of numbers.
When she is not sitting in front of a computer, you will find her riding her bike, watercolor painting and exploring Vancouver Island.
Aman is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), bringing a strong financial acumen to Dogwood’s Board of Directors. He is currently employed as the Canada Controller for a global medical device company.
Aman was born and raised in the beautiful coastal community of Tahsis, BC on Vancouver Island, nestled in the heart of Nootka Sound. As a father of two young children, Aman has started to view the world through his children’s eyes and is committed to protecting the province’s environment and resources so that they can enjoy the beauty of BC as he did as a child. Aman and his partner Manreet live in Delta with their two young boys.
Jennie has been actively involved in the environmental movement in BC since the mid 90s. While attending the University of British Columbia, she was president of the Student Environment Centre and founder/chair of the Task Group on Waste Reduction. While attending the University of Victoria, she was an executive member of the Environmental Law Centre throughout her three-year law degree. She also conducted research on a volunteer basis for The Land Conservancy. Jennie has worked for the Environmental Youth Alliance and Sierra Legal Defence Fund (now Ecojustice), first in donor relations and then as a legal researcher. She is currently a practicing lawyer in Vancouver.
Dave landed in Canada at Wallace Island in 1973. Early immersion in those orca and salmon-rich waters imprinted deeply. A University of Victoria graduate, Dave has worked in the resource management and public service sectors in many great locations across our province. Dave believes we won’t amount to much if we lose our connection to this place and the great creatures that inform our identity. He joined Dogwood to help build a bridge to a reconciled, resilient, and sustainable future.
A fifth-generation British Columbian, Kai lives in the Lower Mainland but his heart is in the Skeena. His last name translates roughly to “everlasting rice paddy,” which was probably a lot to hope for in feudal Japan. In his spare time he enjoys hiking and camping with family and friends.
Early in his career Kai worked as a journalist for CBC, CTV and other outlets. Moving home to B.C. in 2011, he soon found himself providing digital content and communications strategy to friends and clients in politics, advocacy, education, First Nations government and the private sector.
After volunteering with Dogwood, Kai joined the staff in 2014 as a campaigner. He’s been Communications Director since 2016. If you have a question, media request or constructive feedback, the quickest way to get in touch is probably on Twitter: @kainagata.
Growing up on the territory of Lekwungen speaking peoples (Victoria, BC) in close proximity to the ocean and participating in outdoor recreation trips sparked Abbey’s love and appreciation for the natural world. Abbey graduated from Quest University Canada in May 2018, completing her undergraduate thesis on the strategies used to resist the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
She applied the skills she learned in academia in the field on two successful election campaigns: in 2017 she designed and implemented the get-out-the-vote strategy for Andrew Weaver’s provincial re-election, and in 2018 she served as Volunteer Manager and Outreach Coordinator for Together Victoria, helping elect a slate of three progressive city councillors. Abbey also worked as a Wilderness Committee fundraiser.
Through her studies and participation in environmental movement Abbey has grappled with the implications of her activism as a settler on unceded Indigenous land. She strongly believes that it is imperative to respect and uphold Indigenous rights in the fight for a more socially and environmentally just future.
Outside of activism you’ll find Abbey either on the basketball court, dancing to Lizzo, or eating some combination of chocolate and peanut butter.
Lisa Sammartino is a campaigns and communications coordinator at Dogwood. But she is so much more than that. She is also a sister, wife, horseback rider, coffee addict, costume party hostess, and Netflix binge watcher.
Lisa was raised on a horse farm just outside of Vernon, B.C. She studied Social Work at UBC-Okanagan, travelling to Finland to perform her practicum in refugee settlement with the Red Cross. In 2012 Lisa completed her graduate dissertation on the Canadian Residential School System from a gender perspective, earning her a Master’s degree in Human Rights from the London School of Economics.
She comes to Dogwood after spending three years working for a NDP Member of Parliament in Surrey.
Lisa lives in Langley with her husband, Anthony, and her dog, Hunter.
Kimberly is the Director of Strategic Communications at Ecojustice, Canada’s largest environmental law charity. She was born and raised on Vancouver’s North Shore, where she dreamed of becoming a journalist and changing the world.
After a five-year foray out east for university and bouncing around some of the country’s top newsrooms, she turned in her media pass and joined the Ecojustice team in 2010. It has proven to be the perfect home for her and her love of em dashes, bicycles and wandering through the woods
Christina is the Communications Manager, working out of Dogwood’s Victoria office. She has been successfully communicating since she first learned to speak as a toddler, and has since used communications skills for good (giving compliments, telling people in danger to “Watch out!”) as well as evil (karaoke, talking her way out of speeding tickets). After spending the first part of her life communicating with ease, Christina decided to turn it into a certified skill by earning a communications degree from Western Washington University (with a minor in political science for good measure).
After finishing university, Christina explored several career paths including owning and managing a family business, fundraising and marketing, and a regrettable stint in banking. After beginning work at the not-for-profit Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre in early 2012, she discovered a passion for environmental protection and citizen engagement, which led to an interest in, and eventual hiring at, Dogwood.
Christina was born in Victoria but as a child/teen lived in many exotic places… like Campbell River. And Utah. In 2006, Christina decided to move back to the place she always considered home (Vancouver Island) and now lives in North Saanich with her husband Eric, sons Griffin and Voss, two very destructive cats — Beyonce and Becky (with the good hair) — and a dog whose name she *thinks* is Murph, but isn’t sure since he never comes when he’s called.
Matt is Dogwood’s Operations Director and has been with the organization since late 2006. Matt manages the overall operations of the organization including, Development, Digital Systems, Administration, and Finance. Before joining Dogwood he served for four years as the Director of Organizing (and occasional stints as Acting Executive Director) for the Green Party of Canada. Matt was one of the key players in the Green Party’s initial breakthrough on Canada’s federal political scene. When not in Dogwood’s office Matt likes to get out and explore Vancouver Island’s wilderness areas. Matt lives in Victoria with his wife Kelly and Ernie the cat.
As a child of the west coast, Alexandra’s love of the forest and the ocean runs deep, and she’s been asking people to stop trashing the planet since she was in preschool. But it is outrage at the injustices of climate change – and the corporate greed and political inaction that got us into this mess – that fuels her organizing work.
Alexandra moved to London to do a PhD in social movement studies in the mid 2000s, and spent 10 years helping to build the UK’s climate action movement. She played a leading role in successful campaigns to stop airport expansion, block a new generation of coal-fired power stations and reduce public transit fares.
Returning to B.C. in 2012, Alexandra joined the fight to defend the west coast and the global climate from Big Oil, first as a campaigner with Georgia Strait Alliance and now with Dogwood.
Alexandra lives on the Sunshine Coast with her family, but spends a fair amount of time in the city in pursuit of climate justice and good coffee.
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