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Day on the Hill with a caribou


If you’re reading this blog, I assume you’ve heard about CPAWS’ mission to collect one voice for every remaining woodland caribou in Canada. We did it! That’s right, today we proudly made our way to Parliament Hill to officially present the names of the 32,045 people who signed on to protect woodland caribou and its boreal habitat. And collecting the signatures was the easy part. Getting there…not so easy.

When I started at CPAWS, I never thought my duties would include bringing a 6 foot tall caribou to Parliament Hill...but today I learned they do! (And by 6 foot caribou I mean our Bou caribou mascot.)

The adventure started at 11:00am this morning, when we arrived on Parliament Hill. At this point “Bou” was safely tucked away in carrying totes. Photo-op T-minutes 15 minutes. Everything seemed to be perfectly in place:

  • Media Advisory/Press Release- Check!
  • Press Conference Room booked- Check!
  • 6 Foot tall caribou mascot dry cleaned- Check!
  • Confirmed “Bou”wearer- Check!
  • Giant 32,045 -…. Uhoh!!

With less than 15 minutes before the big event, I realized I’d forgotten the most important part…THE NUMBER!!  As panic struck in I failed to develop any type of logical plan or solution. Thankfully, my fellow CPAWS co-workers were on the ball. Andrée, our Executive Assistant, came to the rescue and coordinated to meet up with Ellen, my Director of Communications, to drop off the number. Off Ellen went in her red coat (acting both as an easy to spot drop off target and quite frankly, a red superhero cape.)  With less than 2 minutes until show time, our giant 32 045 made it safe and sound.

The photo-op went off without a hitch. Reporters lined up to catch a glimpse of our dancing number toting Bou (apparently a dancing caribou stands out from a sea of suits).  However, these dancing moves were not as easy as you think! Let’s just say Bou had a hard time keeping on his dancing hooves.

After the photo-op it was time to head to the press conference in room 130S. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought of it but getting a caribou through security is no easy feat. Besides the fact that security was watching us like hawks (let’s just say it’s not customary to have a caribou in the House of Commons), we also realized that those security scanners aren’t made to fit all sizes…especially size-caribou. I give props to Chris Henschel, our “Bou” for the day, for being so patient. He had to put on and take off the costume more times than anyone should ever have to.

The press conference went well. Reporters showed up and it was quite an attraction. I was so pleased with the turnout that I forgot the 32 045 AGAIN! Yyuuupp it happened. So here we are mid-press conference and I am trying to figure out how to stealthily get the prop to the stage. Well let’s say I fail at being stealthy. If I didn’t already drive enough attention to me as I tried to pass the number to Bou, my Twitter alerts made sure that I was loud and clear. Off went my phone with its many alerts! Never again will I try to be “on trend” and “report in the moment.”

In the end the day was a success. Thanks to all our supporters we made our goal of collecting one voice for every remaining caribou in Canada. In fact we exceeded it! After today’s antics, there’s no way the federal government can ignore the importance that  Canadians and people across the globe place on the need to protect this iconic species and its boreal habitat. In the end we hope that no herd is left behind.