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 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!
Noal hails from the land of coastal sage scrub and fish tacos. She joined Dogwood as a communications coordinator after managing communications for Rungh Cultural Society and the Ecologies of Social Difference Research Network at the University of British Columbia.
Noal also works as a collaborative filmmaker and has developed and led outreach for participatory projects with communities in Cameroon, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. She focuses on the environmental knowledge of overlooked communities as shared through stories. She holds an M.A. in Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice from UBC and a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Colorado.
Noal enjoys immersing herself in British Columbia’s terroir, whether it’s out on the trail with her dogs, exploring the Lower Mainland’s food scene with friends, or foraging with her partner.
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 to start the Beyond Coal campaign. She moved over to become Director of Organizing in January 2016, managing Dogwood’s engagement organizing program and team of amazing provincial organizers.
First trained in community and labour organizing in the early 2000s in San Diego, Laura brings more than 15 years of experience working on political, environmental and social justice campaigns from 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.
Mazdak is the digital systems strategist at Dogwood’s Vancouver office. Having immigrated at a young age with his family, he feels extremely lucky and privileged to call unceded Coast Salish territory “home.”
After studying cognitive systems at the University of British Columbia, he worked as a project coordinator in an environmental engineering company and volunteered at a political fact-checking start-up in Vancouver.
Wanting to do more to change the world, he moved into the non-profit space and worked as the grassroots development strategist at OpenMedia — fighting to keep the internet open, affordable and surveillance-free.
In 2018, Mazdak moved to Dogwood. He hopes to work to expand democracy everywhere and to continue to fight for economic, social, racial and environmental justice.
P.S. He’s really into Dungeons & Dragons. Ask him about his characters!
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.
Growing up at the foot of Mount Seymour, Emily spent a lot of her youth camping along the coast and hanging out on her grandparents’ hobby farm in the Shuswap. Emily realized how much love she has for her home province while pursuing a bilingual honours degree in International Studies and Modern Languages at the University of Ottawa.
Studying politics in Ottawa showed her the importance of being both political and involved in political process, which led to working with not-for-profits. Emily was previously a program coordinator with a national friendship organization for individuals with disabilities. Introduced to organizing as a Dogwood volunteer, Emily is passionate about getting citizens involved in the decisions that affect them.
Emily is now very committed to her East Van community, local food initiatives, and getting time in the great outdoors. When not organizing in the Lower Mainland, Emily is likely dancing, gardening, or exploring her Yiddish roots.
Don Gordon comes to Dogwood following 20 years of leading the development of community land trusts in Ontario. Don holds the Certified Fund Raising Executive designation and the National Certificate in Non-Profit Management. “Fund raising is not the most glamorous part of our work, but if we are to be successful in supporting community interests over those of corporations, it is essential that we have the resources to make our voices heard.” Scuba diving in BC’s oceans fuels his passion for change.
Although Avery grew up in Ontario, she had long desired from to call B.C. “home.” It all started at age 13 when she went on a family road trip through B.C. and was blown away by the province’s natural beauty. She made it her mission to one day live in and work to protect this beautiful province. Avery graduated from the University of Guelph with a BSc in Wildlife Biology and Conservation in 2012. She moved to the Canadian Rockies to work in a lodge during the summer months and lived in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island during the winter seasons. During this time she used every opportunity she could to explore and fell deeper in love with B.C.’s coast, forests and mountains.
In fall 2014, Avery learned to dive while living on Vancouver Island. She quickly developed a passion for diving and the need for protecting Canada’s Oceans. In 2015 Avery completed a 6 month internship in the Seychelles where she performed coral reef research diving and taught local youth about the importance of protecting our oceans.
Upon her return to Canada, Avery spent a brief amount of time back in Ontario while she plotted her return to the West Coast. In 2017, after months of planning, saving and converting an old camper (which she named Walden) into a tiny house, Avery finally said goodbye to Ontario and drove across Canada to Vancouver Island. Once on the island, Avery was determined to start a career with an organization that shared her values and love for B.C. and was over the moon when she found her dream job with Dogwood.
Sophie grew up in Vancouver, on unceded Coast Salish territory. She first started knocking on doors with Dogwood at age 17 and is passionate about empowering young people to hold our elected officials accountable on climate change. Sophie studied economics at Stanford University, where she helped organize the student campaign that successfully got the university to divest from the coal industry.
When she’s not out-organizing the fossil fuel lobby, you can find Sophie singing show tunes while riding her bike down Vancouver’s 10th Avenue, marathoning Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or geeking out on UN climate change negotiation proceedings.
Aside from the many places Arielle has travelled, growing up in B.C. is an integral part of who she is. The oldest memories she has are images of her little blond body bouncing around in nature: climbing in the trees, swimming in the ocean and playing barefoot in the dirt. Her parents had a home on the Saanich Inlet and their regular canoe fishing trips made up her textbook west coast childhood. She admits this privileged history has been one of the leading reasons why she works to protect the environment, but it wasn’t until 2014 sitting around a small table in a coffee shop with 6 other activists that she realized how important this history was to her.
It was then that Arielle started volunteering with Dogwood and she realized the power of social connections to make change in the world. Those activists showed her how face to face conversations can take binoculars and turn them into mirrors. Since then she has hosted art builds, exhibitions and workshops to use art to engage people to take action and give back. Arielle has organized auctions, presentations and rallies to get people to show up and speak up for what they love. And she has dug deep into her own experiences to uncover some of the most limiting and eye opening beliefs to gain a better understanding of how important the integrity of her own voice is when taking a leadership role.
Jess Housty is an Indigenous activist and citizen of the Heiltsuk Nation. She serves her community as an elected councillor and works as a program director for Qqs (Eyes) Projects Society, a Heiltsuk charitable non-profit focused on community capacity building and land-based learning. Jess is a passionate advocate and organizer working on issues like marine shipping safety and ending the trophy hunt in the Great Bear Rainforest. She is a poet, an educator, and past recipient of the Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award and UVic Provost’s Award for Advocacy and Activism. Most importantly she is a mother to two little Heiltsuk babies.
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. An 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 services sector from Nelson to Fort St John, Vancouver and Calgary. He shares the vision of countless British Columbians who want a society that is sustainable, accountable to its citizens, and recognizes the value of the great creatures that have informed our culture.
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 any combination of bows, bikes, brews, bros, etc.
Early in his career Kai worked as a journalist for CBC, CTV, the Tyee 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 took over as Communications Director in 2016. As he likes to say around the office, “this ain’t your grandpappy’s sarsaparilla”. If you have a question, media request or constructive feedback, the quickest way to get in touch is probably on Twitter: @kainagata.
Arie grew up in Tsawwassen, B.C. with her family and a series of loveable keeshond pups. She attained a Bachelors of Arts in Philosophy at UBC and also studied the subject for a stint at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. A course in environmental ethics prompted her transition from contemplating more abstract studies in philosophy towards a commitment to defend democracy in B.C.
Arie has been working with Dogwood Initiative on and off since the summer of 2012. She started off as a canvasser for the No Tankers campaign and then volunteered in various capacities until the Beyond Coal campaign took shape.
When she’s not organizing outreach opportunities for Dogwood Initiative, you can find her listening to her favourite music on her record player or live at venues throughout Vancouver. She’ll otherwise be found wandering in the mountains or at local coffee shops, probably reading about whales.
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 Communications Coordinator in Dogwood’s Victoria office. She has been successfully communicating since she first learned to speak at two-years-old, 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 political science minor 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. Stars aligned, dreams came true… stuff like that.
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, son Griffin, two very destructive cats named Beyonce and Becky (you read that right) and a dog who’s so over it, Murph.
Mike is a Lower Mainland-based organizer building the political power to make better decisions for our democracy, economy and health.
He first got involved fighting Kinder Morgan as a graduate student at Simon Fraser University in 2009. At SFU, the City of Vancouver and across B.C., Mike has organized for fossil fuel divestment and new funding for advanced energy and green building. He’s helped people on campuses, in faith communities, in workplaces and in neighbourhoods build their power to push back against the big polluters that wield too much influence over our governments.
Mike is an enthusiastic reader and loves science fiction. But he believes a bright, exciting future shouldn’t just be something we read about. To get there, we need to get to work today. If we want a better future, Mike says, we need to stop using the energy and democratic systems of the 19th century.
The best way to keep in touch with Mike is on Twitter. Follow his personal Twitter at @mikesoron or email him at work at email@example.com.
Natalie has provided strategic communications to environmental groups across Canada for the past 14 years. She has helped craft and popularize messaging, while driving communications campaigns that influence decision makers, investors and voters. She has worked on a variety of issues, from protecting British Columbia’s coastal temperate rainforest and wild salmon to protecting the boreal forest of Ontario. For the past eight years, since the early days of Alberta’s ‘dirty oil,’ Natalie has worked primarily on the campaign to stop tar sands expansion. Prior to her communications career, she worked in various capacities as a journalist – as a documentary film producer, freelance writer and as a full-time reporter at the Globe and Mail. She holds a graduate degree in journalism from Ryerson University and is pursuing a Masters of Fine Art at the University of British Columbia. Natalie lives in Montreal with her husband, Rene, and two boys.
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.
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