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Relearn to live in symbiosis with nature

29 August 2017

A text from Mylène Gauthier, Distances+

Symbiosis is a Greek word combining the meanings together and live. Symbiosis is an intimate, lasting association between two different organisms or species. The word is heavy with meaning for Steven Guilbeault, ecologist and this year’s honorary president of The Ultra-Trail® Harricana of Canada.

“In a society like ours where we’ve lost contact with nature and feel like we’re living outside of it, we need to relearn that we are part of the ecosystem. We can’t hope for prosperous development in our societies if we get there at the expense of living conditions on Earth. We have to learn how to live in symbiosis again.”

Steven Guilbeault, young wolf of the forest

Born in 1970 in La Tuque, in the Haute-Mauricie region, Steven once climbed a tree in the wooded area behind his home and would not come down, in an effort to stop a real estate developer from cutting down the forest. “La Tuque is a small town in the middle of nowhere. I was grew up in touch with nature. The forest began right behind my house. That really shaped my life learning. I played in the forest when I was young and I think that has stayed with me, within me, and it strongly influenced my path afterwards.” 

Steven Guilbeault-Fanny Lasselin-2

Educating and spreading awareness: a never-ending ultra-marathon

Ecologist, speaker and writer, Steven also co-founded Équiterre, the leading environmental organization in Quebec. He then worked for Greenpeace Canada for 10 years. In 2008, he returned to Équiterre as the new director and spokesperson. Like a never-ending ultra-marathon, he has pursued his quest to advance the thinking on climate change for the past 25 years. “This is the issue that consumes me. I went to the first international conference on climate change in 1995. I was also at the Paris Accord in 2015. It’s my subject; it’s what I’ve always been doing. It’s what I spend all my time working on.” 

Healthy mind, healthy body, healthy planet

His love for nature is also evident in the outdoor sports he does. A bike courier during his studies, he still gets around on two wheels, in summer and in winter. He’s a hard-core hiker and also skied quite a bit when he was younger. He runs and particularly enjoys obstacle races. “My favourite place to run in Montréal is on Mount Royal. I’ve done road marathons before, but I’ve never run a trail race.” Steven will be at the starting line of the UTHC for his first trail-running experience. He’s excited about the race and is sure he’ll get hooked on the sport. “I already do a lot of hiking. In fact, I just got back from the GR20 in Corsica. I imagine I’ll love trail running!”

“Personally, physical activity is just part of life. I run four or five times a week.” His mantra encompasses the values of overall well-being: a healthy mind in a healthy body in a healthy world, along with being active and nourishing ourselves on a planet where life if good. “Physical activity is a great way to become aware of the importance of air quality, of preserving our natural spaces and of taking action to save nature.”

Experiencing an authentic trail run in the boreal forest. Running on paths in the heart of pure, wild nature. Passing through a rich ecosystem in a protected UNESCO nature reserve. We have no doubt that our honorary president will be in perfect symbiosis at the 2017 Ultra Trail® Harricana.

 

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