Plastic Oceans Canada is honoured to have the support of Jessica Winkler who is coming onboard as an Ambassador.

Jessica is a professional kitesurfer, having won world and national titles in freestyle, speed racing, course racing and wave riding in Canada, Mexico, Caribbean and South Africa. She is also an author, speaker and world traveler. Her new book Confessions of a Warrior is aimed at helping people who have been raped or abused through the healing power of sport and the ocean. She conducts Warrior Training seminars at retreats and conferences around the world.

Jessica Winkler is mid-air kitesurfing

Here are some words from Jessica on why she has decided to join our mission to “rethink plastic”.

“I’ve always been passionate about the ocean. As a professional kitesurfer I work and play in the water sometimes up to eight hours a day. It is my life force and my soul. When I started getting sick, suffering with chronic eye infections and getting rashes under my arms I began considering the health of the ocean more seriously. I discovered Google Earth has a feature which shows data on the nature of dead zones in the ocean (periodic, seasonal or persistent), size, date it was first observed, impact on fisheries, impact on deep-water ecosystems and a reference. This information horrified me at the time but like most of us my life got busy and I forgot about it.

It was brought back to my attention when I was forced to close down my second kiteboarding school because my students were getting violently sick after being in the water. They suffered from fever, diarrhea and vomiting. Word spread, people left bad reviews and eventually all my clients cancelled. I can’t say I blamed them. What they went through was awful and at the time I couldn’t find a reason for it. After much research, I found out the local gas and oil company had a leak in one of their pipes leading to a filling station out to sea. The content of oil in the area near my school was so high that when the water warmed up it caused an outbreak of algae blooms. I learned that these algae cause sickness when ingested in high quantities (like by the people learning to kite). I even noticed that marine life was washing up on the beaches with bulging eyeballs. I knew I needed to take a stand and voice my story to the world about what happened so I wrote an article about my findings and my experience. It was published in four magazines around the world and sparked a discussion on the TED community. Many people had various opinions on the subject but at the end of the day nothing was done to fix the problem. Defeated and broke I decided to move to a different country and start over only this time I would research where the cleanest water in the world was located and move there.

Fast forward five years, Vancouver, Canada. I’m speaking at a conference called Warrior Women of the Sea. I met a group of passionate women all working to solve the problems affecting the ocean. I was so fired up by what these women are doing to save our planet that I wanted to get involved in any way I could. This is where I met Emma, the Director of Plastic Oceans Canada. Emma asked me if I had watched “A Plastic Ocean”. I had heard of it but not watched it yet. I was so excited to see the film I ended up watching it that night. I felt like I was hit with a two by four. The impact this film made on me was so great, when I got home to Turks and Caicos, where I live, I immediately disposed of all my plastic water containers and purchased glass ones. Walking around the grocery store was and still is extremely difficult as ninety percent of everything we eat is packaged in some sort of plastic. This film completely turned my life upside down and I can never go back.

Plastic Oceans Canada and the countless other non-profits out there working to save our world are more important to our survival then anyone realizes. I’m dedicating a portion of myself to helping them because I believe that without change I will lose my livelihood. Even though I no longer live in Canada it’s my home and I’m choosing to spread awareness of this problem and encourage people to change their plastic behaviour – in purchasing and in disposing of products in their home as well as when they travel. We need to respect the planet as a whole and not think its everyone else’s problem.  My role as a Plastic Oceans Canada Ambassador will be to help people learn about the issues and encourage them to get involved and make a difference.”

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