Some people are born movers and shakers. While many folks are content with armchair politics, others have an insatiable drive to roll up their sleeves and affect change. Ana Santos is one of those people. The Basque-born, Squamish-based volunteer spokesperson for the Squamish Climate Action Network has driven a countless number of initiatives in the Sea to Sky corridor in the two years the non-profit has been active, involving the public and municipal governments in various campaigns for environmental improvement. Santos has been passionate about ecosystems since her youth, but it was on a trip to British Columbia in the late nineties that she found her true paradise. Given a chance to move here from England, where she was working as a translator after getting a masters degree in English philology (a broad academic discipline spanning English language and linguistics and the literatures and cultures of English-speaking peoples), she applied and received her permanent residency, packed a bag along with her English bike and Spanish pots and pans, and moved to Squamish. That was 2004. Seven years later she and her group are making a big impact on Sea to Sky communities.
Pique : How did you end up in Squamish?
Ana Santos : As a home, I first considered both Vancouver and Whistler. I was put off by the big city feeling and the cost of living in Whistler. I picked up the map and looked for something in between. I found Squamish and I hit the jackpot - I love it and have lived here ever since, now as a Canadian citizen.
Pique : How did you first come to be involved with environmental issues?
Santos : While still in England, I enjoyed distance-learning programs on animal behaviour and wildlife management with the universities of British Columbia and Alaska. I started spending a lot of time as a volunteer with biologists and wildlife experts.
After I moved here, I often volunteered with organizations like the US Fish & Wildlife Service in Alaska. I still do that occasionally, but I changed paths after the summer of 2008, when I realized the huge impact we were having in the ecosystems and the wildlife that I was helping to study. It occurred to me then that it is our own species that's in need of management. Humans are the animals that interest me the least, but I thought it necessary to turn my focus to them - if we manage ourselves properly, everything else will be all right.