11-year-old Rupert Yakelashek is mobilizing the right to a healthy environment in British Columbia.
#17 - RUPERT YAKELASHEK
HOMETOWN: Victoria, British Columbia
At the young age of eleven, Rupert has demonstrated that there is no minimum age required for promoting environmental rights. He is also proving that, no matter how young you may be, it is never too early to understand what a healthy planet is supposed to look like.
Rupert’s largest contributions are connected to the initiatives of the Blue Dot Movement, a program coordinated through the David Suzuki Foundation that focuses on the importance of adequate food, water, and air for all Canadians. Since discovering that Canada is not included in the list of 110 countries that have recognized environmental rights, Rupert has been dedicated to turning this around. Rupert organized a rally in front of Victoria City Hall, appropriately called “Rupert’s Rally for a Healthy Environment”, with the goal of convincing city councillors to vote in favour of a declaration recognizing the right to a healthy environment. Though it may be another seven years before he can even vote, Rupert and his family made such a strong case for environmental rights that the councillors voted unanimously in favour of the declaration – a highlight of Rupert’s life thus far.
Since then, Rupert has attended several other council meetings, and wrote to every municipality on Vancouver Island, eight of which have already committed to recognizing the right to a healthy environment. He is also looking to influence the Government of B.C. to adopt an Environmental Bill of Rights at a provincial level.
Though once it was uncommon to see children in conversation with municipal leaders and in attendance at council meetings, Rupert’s community and the local government continue to support Rupert and other youth in their Blue Dot initiatives. Even adults who know Rupert have rediscovered their passion for environmental advocacy after seeing the outstanding accomplishments of someone so young.
Do not be mistaken – Rupert still has all the traits of a typical eleven-year-old. In addition to his commitment to moving forward with the amendment of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms to include the right to a healthy environment, continuing to work with the Blue Dot movement, and becoming an innovator in biotechnology, Rupert has not relinquished any future plans to grow a beard and get his driver’s license (to drive an electric car, of course!).
Join us in congratulating Rupert on his successes thus far. We look forwarding to reading more about his achievements the future (considering he still has 14 more years to qualify for the Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 program).
The Starfish Canada's Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 Magazine showcases the 25 finalists from 2015 with longer articles, new pictures, and captivating stories from across Canada. All proceeds directly fund The Starfish Canada's programming to assist youth in understanding and amplifying the environmental issues they're most passionate about.