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Betty Krawczyk, Proud Fanatic

The queen of protest on activism, prison life and second acts after raising kids. A Trees and Us podcast.

Mark Leiren-Young 1 Jun 2009TheTyee.ca

Mark Leiren-Young is the writer and director of the widely praised The Green Chain. Mark's also a regular contributor to The Tyee. For more on Mark, visit his website: www.leiren-young.ca.

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Krawczyk on court steps: Fighting still.

Betty Krawczyk is proud to call herself a "fanatic."

Krawczyk has been in and out of jail so often that she could probably be labelled a "habitual offender." She did her first jail stint in 1993. She was 65 years old. Her crime -- blockading logging trucks.

Last Tuesday she appealed both the judgment and sentencing she received (10 months in prison) for her part in the Eagleridge Bluff protests. "Although I have already served my time, I am asking the court for a new trial on the grounds of abuse of process in the way civil contempt was raised to criminal contempt in my case, and judicial bias," Krawczyk told The Tyee. She represented herself.

On Friday, the panel of Appeal Court judges rejected her appeal but Krawczyk isn't ruling out taking her case all the way to Canada's Supreme Court.

Passionate roots

Krawczyk credits her birth in Southern Louisiana for her passion. "All southern Louisianans are too passionate for their own good." Her first protest -- an anti-segregation rally in the early '60s -- changed her life. "I joined a small group of white people called SOS, Save Our Schools. We went down to the same elementary school my children were going to and we picketed the school with signs that said 'Don't close, integrate. Let's be civilized, integrate our schools. Don't close. Closing is defeat.' There were only seven of us. It was the first time I'd ever been spit on by anybody."

After that, Krawczyk split with her church -- because they sat out the segregation fight -- and protested the Vietnam War, before moving to Canada and discovering her new cause, saving the forests around her new home, Clayoquot Sound.

Artifacts from past wars

Krawczyk's east-end apartment is cluttered with papers and boxes full of papers from dozens of battles, including running for mayor of Vancouver with the Work Less Party.

Krawczyk shares her adventures, experiences and opinions on her blog at www.bettyk.org, and in three memoirs Clayoquot: The Sound Of My Heart, Lock Me Up or Let Me Go: The Protests, Arrest and Trial of an Environmental Activist and Grandmother and Open Living Confidential: From Inside the Joint.

I talked to Krawczyk about her adventures in activism, life in prison, why the world needs more fanatics and her accidental discovery of environmentalism after she moved to B.C. and all her children had left home.

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