An author, environmental activist, speaker, and supporter of Indigenous Peoples’ rights is bringing his new book to Smithers.
B.C. author Thom Henley will be at the Smithers Public Library on Nov. 12 with this 10th book entitled Raven Walks Around the World: Life of a Wandering Activist.
Henley lives in Victoria when he’s not travelling, or at his summer camp on the Skeena River.
He has also spent a lot of time on Haida Gwaii. The Haida people formally adopted Thom bestowing upon him the name Yaahl Hlaagaay Gwii Kaas (Raven Walks Around the World).
In 2005, he founded In Touch With Nature Education, a program that offers outdoor education immersion to students from some of Asia’s most prestigious schools.
He was in Thailand last week when he spoke over the phone to The Interior News.
“I’m leading a trip in northern Thailand and we are going to be looking at elephants, ethical issues, and tourism and elephants. It is pretty sad what is going on here with tourism and elephants. We are going to a sanctuary where they don’t allow riding and the kids can interact with the elephants,” he said. “We are also going to be doing a service project there.”
Once that trip is done, Henley kicks off a 10-day promotional book tour in Canada with a stop in Smithers.
“I really didn’t intend to sit down and write an autobiography. I was just taking some notes on my campaign in Haida Gwaii and starting up Rediscovery [a program designed with Haida elders to put youth (often in crisis) back in touch with themselves, their culture and the natural world] and I thought maybe my nieces and nephews might like to read it one day.
“But then I was asked by the museum society if I could write a short piece on the train caravan we had during the Haida Gwaii campaign. I said I was really busy and I don’t have time but I have something I’ve written before that you can have and use however you liked. Then I heard back from people that I should really consider publishing it,” he explained.
The book is now on the B.C. best sellers list.
There are a couple of things he hopes readers take away from his book.
“I hope it sheds some light on the current debate in Canada about relations with aboriginal and non-aboriginal people. People need to come together and share meals and experiences together,” said Henley.
He also hopes it gets people thinking about citizen action and environmental issues.
“Certainly we’ve had that with the Skeena and sacred headwaters, everything from Enbridge to LNG debates, and I think the things that’s missing from these debates is looking at how do we really make healthy communities and what really consists long-term jobs. I’ve heard times in the Telkwa region where they say we need real jobs, we need resource extraction industry as well. Certainly that has been the history of Canada, but I’m not sure those are the only real jobs out there,” he said.
Henley also wants people to think about global economic partners.
“Who are we partnering with? I’ve spent enough time in Malaysia to know that Petronas, the company [that was before deciding to not to invest earlier this year] pushing the LNG proposal along the Skeena, is probably the last country I would want to partner with as a Canadian. The corruption there is mind boggling,” he said.
Henley will be reading a section of his new book and hoping to have some open dialogue.
He is also willing to talk about travel if people are interested in asking about countries he’s been to.