Bonjour Melanie, can you tell our readers about yourself and where you are in the world?
I am Melanie Vivianne,
a shark conservationist, environmentalist, artist and student who lives in Quebec. Most of my life I was involved in groups like Greenpeace
. Although this activism was part of my daily routine, I was still searching for something more. I found my calling last year and since then, I have been devoting each day to saving our oceans and educating people on how to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. I hope to inspire others wanting to take a step towards the sea to be part of a conservation movement that is growing each day.
I am actually involved in a few conservation projects including Canadian petitions to stop shark fin importation and personal ones too. I am working with an American Artist who paints phenomenal art and we plan on organizing an auction soon, and all proceeds will go towards ocean conservation.
Also, I have been studying film and biology to make a documentary and I hope to finish it in a few years, it all depends on where life takes me but I for sure want to put all the passion I have into a movie to raise more global consciousness about these important issues.
Melanie you are absolutely on the move for change in Canada and the world! Taking action on so many avenues and all focused on the ocean. So as a shark advocate please tell us what your mission is and what you're looking to accomplish?
I believe that sharks can be saved from extinction if we truly unite to realize this goal. The way that we are abusing our oceans and marine life has to stop, we know that this is wrong and yet we continue for profit. We need to change legislation where the health of people and a healthy environment come first and abolish unsustainable practices that fuel violence and greed. Failing is not in my vocabulary and I will wear my strongest piece of armor because I am not backing down on the issue of shark finning and the shark fin trade in my country. I want kids and future generations to be able to see sharks one day, including healthy oceans. People should be living on a planet that is thriving with life and although these mistakes cannot be fixed easily, I think that stopping the slaughter of sharks could restore a broken ecosystem. I learned that the Canadian government imports 100 Tons of shark fins each year! The numbers are shocking and this is why it needs to end as soon as possible. Until there are unsustainable practices going on in our world, I won't give up until tomorrow is a little brighter and greener.
100 Tons per year! That is sadly a lot of sharks that have been killed senselessly just for their fins. We did not know that Canada was taking in so many fins where the shark's bodies were thrown back. With your public petitions to help sharks what number are you looking to obtain and where will you deliver the signatures? Is there a lot of businesses that sell shark fin soup and products in Montreal?
I would like enough signatures to help get BillS-238 into the House of Commons. This bill would stop all shark fin import in Canada and I think we know that this needs to pass in order to save sharks and our oceans. I would like 200 000 signatures, I think that this would express how serious I am about this cause and hopefully help in our government accepting this bill.
I am aware that shark products are being sold everywhere and shark fin soup is still being made in many Chinese restaurants but to me, this remains unacceptable. I often go to Montreal and it deeply affects me to see a health food store selling shark cartilage, shark supplements. I want to raise awareness about this and hopefully make a difference.
A lot of Chinese restaurants which sold shark fin soup are now closed, this is perhaps just a coincidence but there has been a lot of pressure on such restaurants for a while and I am happy to see that it's working. Tong-Por is a restaurant that still sells shark fin soup and you can find it on the menu.
"Sharks in a way saved my life and now it is my turn to save them."~ Melanie Vivianne
Thank you for sharing these products because we definitely want our readers to see them. These products do nothing but kill sharks for a fallacy that sharks don't get cancer and by eating them you won't either. Such false information. These bowls of soup have a history of over 400 years ago when a Chinese emperor wanted something that no one else could have and he ordered for shark fin soup. Now it has become a status symbol of wealth and a part of Chinese weddings which has become a drive to fish out every last shark. So Melanie how long have you known your passion for sharks and can you remember that day or situation that brought it to the surface and led you to fight for sharks?
Love brought me to fight for these amazingly gentle creatures. It was years ago, I was just diagnosed with an auto-immune disease and I felt so helpless and I stumbled upon the documentary Sharkwater
and well my whole life changed in a blink of an eye. I remember watching that documentary for the first time it was like being blind and seeing the illumination of the sun; all you want to do is chase after that feeling for the rest of your life and this is how I felt. Somehow I knew that this was my destiny, part of the reason why I was on this earth. I knew that this journey of mine was just beginning and sharks would play an important part in it.
I got in contact with Rob and he became a great friend and mentor through the years that followed my involvement in shark conservation. I had never met anyone like him and his love for sharks truly moved me and as he sadly passed away last year, I swore that I would carry on his legacy because I feel his spirit guiding me to the oceans and it is where I need to be. I was in my mid-twenties when I became passionate about sharks but something in me changed when Rob passed away and then I found a lump in one of my breasts. Regardless of the outcome, I knew that my time on this earth was temporary and I wanted to do my best to be a voice for sharks and inspire the world to take action.
"Love is where nature is and I want to live in the core of it."~ Melanie Vivianne
Wow so much passion fueled by Rob Stewart's amazing documentary Sharkwater. He was a legion with such a caring and humble personality. So incredible to see you taking on his legacy in your own powerful way! How has your passion for the sharks changed your thinking and your life?
My whole world has changed in a drastic way and I will admit that I am a new person since I started this journey and my growth has been incredible and I look forward to learning more. I am more aware of my actions and how they affect the environment. I am a vegetarian who is slowly transitioning to becoming a vegan but I try to have a different approach to buying food. How was it made? Where was it made? Is it sustainable? Is it zero waste? What was the environmental impact of this product? Life is not about being perfect but trying to be the best that you can be and I think that waking up a little more knowledgeable every morning is a blessing to me. I actually do not drive, I take public transport, make my own products at home and buy my clothes at thrift stores. Educating yourself makes you more aware how big your carbon footprint really is and once your eyes are open, you take immediate action to reduce it. I want to live off the grid or possibly in a tree house or on a boat in the ocean. Love is where nature is and I want to live in the core of it.
Great way to look at this world through your own existence and how your choices affect it. Becoming aware of your surroundings is a great way to change your life to the life you want to see in this world. Thank you Melanie for walking the walk you want. So since you took on the mission to help sharks do you feel its helping build a strong character and skills within you? Can you describe?
I grew up with a certain fear of life because I went through so many health problems that it somehow prevented me from living my life to the fullest. I have Crohn's disease and it's quite difficult to lead a normal life with an endless list of daily challenges. Through my profound love and passion for sharks, I learned that anyone can really make a difference. You don't need to be diving each day and connecting directly with the ocean to let it move you and push you to save it. Regardless of your situation, you can change the world if you follow your heart and this is exactly what I am doing. Sharks in a way gave me a second chance at life and transformed my attitude, judgment, and understanding of everything in general. I asked myself if a creature that I was told was a monster was so gentle, well then maybe all people said was not spoken in honesty or even the truth at all. I think that sharks sparked something in me which is now burning ever so brightly and leading me even further than I could possibly understand. Today, I left my worries in yesterday's shadows and live fearlessly in the light and hope that tomorrow brings. Sharks in a way saved my life and now it is my turn to save them.
It is incredible to hear your strength. You are showing all of us that with perseverance and determination we all can make a difference no matter what is happening in our lives. You are right we don't need to be in the ocean daily to care or even live beside it. Everything we do no matter land locked or beach side affects the water that leads to the ocean. What ocean conservation organization is your favorite and why?
is such a great one but I want to talk about the
. Last year we lost Rob Stewart and through the loss of our beloved brother, this project was born. This organization is all about promoting Rob's legacy and message through art. I think that art can truly alter your mood, help elevate your soul to another level of consciousness and perhaps open your heart to caring about the world around you and inspire you to.. like Rob would have said, do something.
Art shapes society daily and as our world advances so rapidly it can remind people what truly matters, the conservation of our nature and oceans; which ultimately preserves the human race.
As an ocean artist myself I love that you have added this to your answer. Art is definitely something that has shown us what is happening in centuries past. Today it is definitely all about our present nature change be it the land, ocean, and air. Art tells the stories of present, past, and future. Melanie in your own words, what would you like people to know that was a great lesson you have learned because of your passion to stand up for the sharks?
In a world so superficial, you always need to look at things with an open mind and heart and question what you are being told is evil and dangerous. Constantly question life and seek adventure to see if what they say is true (by always being careful of course) because most of the time, people lie and dramatize stories in order for them to sell. Sharks have nothing but love in their hearts and could not care less about us humans. These Apex predators taught me so much and I think that if people truly looked them in the eye, they would see their true colors and join this fin free movement
Yes! So many people deter others from following their hearts to lead them to the answers they seek. You have followed your heart Melanie and we are happy you were able to attract us to your journey for the protection of sharks! So tell us what would be your favorite thing about the ocean?
Hands down, hammerheads. I have always been an outcast and to me, hammerheads are like the oddly beautiful ones of the ocean, plus they look awesome. Have you ever seen schools of hammerheads swimming? It's a beautiful glimpse into wonders of our world and I believe heaven lies in the ocean.
We believe heaven lies within the ocean too Melanie! Thank you for joining us today from Montreal. We absolutely appreciate your time and the journey you have taken on even more so now that Rob has passed. He has truly made leaders in this world and you are definitely on that list! Keep up that great work and touch base with us on what happens with your petitions.
Check back next week on the Ocean Passion Series to find out who our next ocean passionate guest will be and you will never be disappointed! Check out our past guests here >>Ocean Passion Series<<
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