Born and raised on the west coast of B.C., Jordan Soet has spent his whole life exploring his home province. At an early age, his parents instilled in him an appreciation for the limitless opportunities the British Columbia wild has to offer – something that has stayed with him ever since. From outings at sea to coastal camping and mountainous hikes to forested retreats, Jordan has had a myriad of adventures in his 20+ year life – the most memorable being a hike along the West Coast Trail with his mom (cool parent alert).
It comes as no surprise that the early experiences Jordan had exploring B.C. have stuck with him into adulthood as treasured memories, which explains why he had such a visceral reaction upon first hearing about Enbridge’s oil tanker and pipeline proposal.
“The project just read irresponsible from start to finish,” Jordan said, “but even with the public outcry from so many British Columbians and all of the risks, the federal government decided to approve it.” In a moment of disbelief and ire, he made the choice to jump into action.
Jordan signed his name to the list of speakers at the Enbridge public hearing sessions, wanting to express his distrust of the ill-planned project. “I wanted to explain the reasons I thought building the pipeline was a bad move – the imbalanced risk vs. reward to the livelihoods of British Columbians who rely heavily on fishing and tourism – not to mention the possible impact to the natural world I thrived on growing up.”
Unfortunately, what Jordan expected to be an empowering and impactful moment turned out to be just the opposite. “I felt really disappointed with the whole process. I didn’t leave feeling like I’d made any kind of difference,” Jordan said.
“It seemed clear that the government interest was to push the pipeline through – flaws and all – even after so many people showed up to speak out against it.”
Feeling hopeless, Jordan became stagnant. He didn’t know where to focus his energy and started to believe that no one person had the power to make an impact. “It was around this time I heard from a friend who happens to be a regional organizer for Dogwood Initiative,” he said. “She encouraged me to check out a Dogwood meeting.”
Jordan took his friend’s advice and met with local organizers who like him were dedicated to making change. “I really liked the concept of a citizens’ initiative,” Jordan said. “It was the only thing I’d heard about that actually seemed like it had the potential to stop Northern Gateway.” His spark of hope returned almost instantly.
It’s been one year since Jordan became involved as an organizer for Dogwood. He’s now a team leader in Vancouver-Fairview and has built lasting relationships with his co-organizers as well as the local people he’s met along the way while canvassing.
“The best part for me is really getting to know the other members of my team and hearing their stories. It’s so inspiring to be around such bright and passionate people of all ages.” Especially impactful has been his relationship with fellow organizer, Hisao. “He’s an amazing person and someone I never would have had the chance to meet otherwise.”
So what keeps him motivated while knocking on doors? Jordan says it’s the amazing connections he’s able to make.
“So many people are on board and want to share their stories with us. Even people who disagree with a citizens’ initiative have valuable things to say. It teaches you to be respectful of all opinions and that you can find common ground with almost anyone.”
Most importantly, Jordan says that being a part of a Dogwood team gives him hope that nothing is a done deal – especially with the work that will be done around the upcoming federal election.
“I see this as an incredible opportunity. Our team will actually help influence the future of politics through organizing, which could mean a change in the rules we operate under during a citizens’ initiative. It’s too important to miss!”