Convening a network that changed a national conversation and re-energized a movement. 

For the Tar Sands Campaign

The Story

The tar sands were a giant problem Canadians didn’t want to look at. The country’s government and its oil industry were spending over $100M to greenwash the world’s biggest extractive project and demonize anyone who stood in their way of becoming an energy superpower. Environmental groups and First Nations were vastly outgunned.

After mapping the movement’s strengths and gaps, it was clear a shift was needed from science and policy to more communications and mobilization heavy work. We helped formalize a network to connect, amplify, and support over 60 environmental, Indigenous, and community partners to create stronger, more connected and more movement-oriented campaigns. We built and managed a nimble digital communications shop to promote network members’ work, align national messaging, and drive joint mobilization moments. 

After four years of campaigning, the tar sands brand and Canada’s Conservative government were permanently damaged, while Indigenous rights, climate, and other issues had been brought to the forefront. What emerged for Canadian NGOs fighting the tar sands was a place-based, intersectional and people powered organizing model and a digital, communications, and organizing capacity that was now greatly strengthened.

Our efforts were credited by the Financial Post as being the center of a “sophisticated opposition campaign amplified by the clever use of social media” that industry “failed to understand”. What the Financial Post fails to understand is the reason why the campaign succeeded wasn’t one firm, but the highly networked movement we helped organize and direct. 

Our Impact

  • Crowdfunded over $700K for Indigenous Peoples to stop various projects
  • Planned, launched, and promoted dozens of websites, videos, and social media to influencers and grassroots leaders that changed the national political story and permanently damaged the tar sands brand
  • Co-organized five major national climate mobilizations
  • Supported a movement-wide effort to defeat Stephen Harper as Prime Minster in 2015
  • Grew capacity of Canadian environmental and First Nations groups in digital, communications, and mobilization