50-year old climate activist Ann Cognito was the victim of a theft last Friday, when various items essential to her campaign were stolen from a locked storage area.
Cognito has been traveling the 3,300 km distance between Calgary and Ottawa by kick bike, to eventually confront prime minister Justin Trudeau about his inaction regarding the climate crisis. During a temporary rest from her journey, Cognito stored her belongings in the basement laundry room of a friend’s apartment complex. Her belongings were last seen at 10 a.m. Friday morning, but were confirmed missing by 2 p.m. that afternoon.
“It seems pretty clear it was one of the other tenants who has an addiction problem,” Cognito said in an interview. “I made a police report and they said they might call her and see what she has to say about it. And that’s it. It’s really frustrating.”
Among the items stolen were a Rhinowolf tent, an Honest Outfitters sleeping bag, a Voltaic Arc 20 Watt Solar Charger Kit with universal laptop battery, personal and veterinary documents, and a hand-painted sign she previously used to promote the movement. A full list is available on her Facebook page.
Cognito is currently staying with a friend in Winnipeg’s West End, but she will soon move to a hostel to plan her next step. The theft has not discouraged her from her journey.
“Lots of times people will put something like this on hold for two months or something, and there’s no way in heck I’m gonna wait that long—we have an election coming up,” she said resolutely.
She has maintained a positive outlook on the situation. “It’ll work out, and it gives time to figure out a better solution for how to continue from here, because the Ontario highways have gotten so bad that even the cyclists are having trouble.”
Due to neglect, the edges of the highway between Winnipeg and Barrie are crumbling away, leaving very little room for non-motorized vehicles to safely occupy space. Cognito intends to find an alternative form of transportation that is as eco-friendly as her kick bike, and she has so far looked into marinas and sailboat charter companies.
Cognito spearheaded Alberta’s chapter of Extinction Rebellion, an international movement for climate action that began in the United Kingdom and has since spread across Canada. Cognito passed on her leadership to other members of the group shortly before she set out for Ottawa. “Our government is treating [the climate crisis] completely backwards and completely irresponsibly, and I just refuse to sit and watch that happen,” she said when asked about her motivation. “One day I got fed up and I said ‘that’s it, I’m going to bloody well walk to Ottawa and give [Trudeau] a piece of my mind!’ And I couldn't think of a valid reason not to.”
Supporters from across the country are signing the letter that Cognito will present to Trudeau. She is urging that Canadians do whatever else they can to speak up about Canada’s lack of progressive climate policy.
“It’s just too late not to anymore,” she reasoned. “We have everything to lose and our own future to gain. That’s all it comes down to.”
Cognito has a Patreon account for those who wish to contribute to the movement. Her colleagues are looking into other platforms to facilitate the replacement of her stolen belongings. Details about this and the movement are frequently posted on her Facebook page.