Tzeporah Berman was a teenage art student studying in Europe when she first became aware of environmental degradation – pollution eroding ancient ruins in Greece and huge forests decimated in Germany. Tzeporah returned to Canada to find deforestation also taking place in BC rainforests she had previously not known existed.
“We found out that these forests…some of the oldest trees left in the world, were being made into phonebooks… Scott Paper was making toilet paper out of them.”
“I had never been to a protest in my life. And, and I ended up coordinating the blockades in 1993. It became the largest civil disobedience action in Canada’s history. Over 10,000 people came that summer. It was a real tipping point in Canada for environmental issues.”
Tzeporah spurred a movement that ended clear-cutting in Clayoquot Sound. She would eventually co-found Forest Ethics and take on behemoths like MacMillan Bloedel, Staples and Victoria Secret. Never afraid of a fight, or controversy, Tzeporah continues to battle big companies and governmental bodies on behalf of Power Up Canada and Greenpeace.
“What I’ve found is there’s no one silver bullet. There’s no one right way to engage with this issue. You have to do what you feel strongly about.”
As Tzeporah told George Strombolopolis on The Hour, Everyone remembers their moment, the one that thrust them into action, and set them on a path to realizing a goal and finding a solution to a cause they believe in.
For this GreenHero, it was a summer in University when she returned to a previously lush piece of B.C. forest that had been clear-cut. The green haven that she had enjoyed the summer prior rife with streams and wildlife was now a dusty plateau.
In response, Tzeporah mobilized. She was responsible for orchestrating one of the largest displays of civil disobedience in Canadian history. Her 10,000-strong Clayoquot Sound protest in 1993 against a massive logging organization saw her arrested and charged with 850 counts of criminal aiding and abating for which she faced six years in jail.
When she was finally acquitted of the charges, she decided to take a different tactic and moved from blockades to the boardrooms. Instead of manpower, Tzeporah invoked the sway of hundreds of voices. She co-founded Forest Ethics and got her followers to call into the head offices of companies that used paper products sourced of B.C. logging. After being inundated by unhappy members of the public, the companies changed their practices. Presently, several large companies including Victoria’s Secret, and Home Depot work in conjunction with Tzeporah to pursue sustainable solutions and practices for their products and packaging.
These days, she shows no sign of slowing down. Tzeporah is currently Executive Director and of PowerUp Canada the company which she co-founded and works for Greenpeace International as Co-director of their Climate and Energy Program.PowerUp! Send them a postcard message about climate change and get them to take legislative action on a cleaner energy policy.