Age of Union it is the name of a new international environmental organization. A non-profit, its objective is to support and make visible a global community of activists committed to protecting endangered species and ecosystems. “The next decade will be crucial” believes Dax Dasilva in this interview, the first carried out by a French media. “I want to show through my journey that tapping into our spirituality and our passions can be helpful in self-realization to become the agents of change we want to see in the world.”
With an unshakable faith in human beings, the businessman carries his foundation with the faith of a modern-day missionary who intends to participate in the construction of a better world. “We absolutely have to change our discourse on the environment. To make it a speech of hope”.
Meeting with an atypical entrepreneur who has become the partner of many NGOs such as Sea Shepherd in France.
Born in Vancouver, he grew up in a family from Uganda. From the age of 14, he revealed his homosexuality, while attending a Catholic school for boys. At 16, he took part in demonstrations of the Battle of Clayoquot Sound to protest the logging of an ancient forest. Dubbed the War in the Woods, this movement is still the largest act of Canadian civil disobedience to this day. “It was then that I realized how important the environment was to me” Dax Dasilva tells us.
He will pursue graduate studies in computer science at the University of British Columbia, before turning to religious studies and art history. Subsequently, he moved to Montreal in 2001 and became one of the spokespersons for LGBTQ+ rights.
In 2005, Dax Dasilva created Lightspeed. Founded on the principles of inclusion and diversity, the company is becoming one of the most promising IT companies in Canada. Today, the New York and Toronto Stock Exchange-listed company provides the most advanced e-commerce platforms. Its IT solutions are used by retail and restaurant professionals in more than 100 countries.
In 2019, he published a book called Age of Union. Based on four pillars — leadership, culture, spirituality and nature — it is intended as a guide for anyone determined to become an agent of change. Age of Union therefore provides practical advice for those wishing to start a business or a non-profit organization, while encouraging environmental protection. “This is a toolkit for anyone who wants to make a difference, in any way, and realize their full potential. I believe that every individual has the power to transform our world for good”.
Dax Dasilva has never hidden his appetite for spirituality. “Basically, spirituality is the belief that we are connected with the rest. That there is something greater beyond us” Dax confesses. “It’s also the fact of saying that we are all equal between humans, but also between different species. Spirituality is something that connects us. If we are the equals of animals, that inevitably leads to wanting protect them”.
“Where there is action, there is hope”
To walk the talk, Dax Dasilva launched in 2021 Age of Union Alliance, a non-profit organization that supports on-the-ground projects to protect endangered species and ecosystems around the world. Dax Dasilva then injected 40 million dollars into the creation of the foundation.
“I founded Age of Union as an action-oriented environmental initiative, due to the immediate urgency to save endangered species and ecosystems on the planet”explains the founder of Age of Union. “The next decade will be crucial: we absolutely must change the discourse we hold on the environment, into a message of hope. Through Age of Union’s conservation efforts, we hope to inspire change based on the notion that all gestures, small and large, when taken together, can alter the course of our planet for the better.”
For a year, the foundation has already supported ten projects, from the protection of the Dulan forest in Borneo threatened by coal mines with the program Kalaweit to the preservation of the Las Piedras river in Peru with the ranger program JungleKeepers.
Among its other contributions, the foundation donated 4.5 million euros to Sea Shepherd to combat illegal fishing and prevent accidental catches of dolphins.
A partnership with Sea Shepherd to protect dolphins
“When we launched Age of Union in October 2021, one of the first partners we wanted to work with was Sea Shepherd” says Dax Dasilva. “Paul Watson, the founder of Sea Shepherd, has been a great inspiration to me for as long as I can remember. What Sea Shepherd has done over the past 50 years, including saving the whale population of extinction, is truly inspirational.”
Its partnership with Sea Shepherd helped finance the vessel “ M/Y Age of Union » for missions in French waters. These missions reveal the dramatic consequences of unselective and dangerous fishing methods, focusing on the illegal catches of dolphins off the French coast, while the French government does not intervene.
Around 10,000 dolphins are killed each year by unregulated commercial fishing off the French Atlantic coast in the Bay of Biscay, twice as many as all other countries combined.
“The effects of these wrongful acts will continue to destroy our oceans and everything that lives in them if we don’t act now.” considers Dax Dasilva. “Even though we may not be able to see these magnificent creatures in our daily lives, there is a huge underwater world and we have only shared a small snippet of how important they are to us and our environment. We cannot close our eyes and let our most precious species get caught in these nets.”
“This is what brought Age of Union and Sea Shepherd together – the shared mission of saving marine wildlife and preserving fragile ocean ecosystems. While many people are concerned about the fishing methods practiced in France, perhaps be that the French government will better enforce the laws intended to protect these species.”
This is the objective of the film CAUGHT which looks back on the mission Dolphin. For Dax Dasilva “the only way to save ocean ecosystems and protect important species like dolphins is to understand what is happening beyond what we can see”.
When asked what personality inspires him today, Dax Dasilva has no hesitation: “Lamya Essemlali!” (the president of Sea Shepherd France). “Lamya is truly an embodiment of these agents of change. She is the heroine of the film and a woman of action”.
The film CAUGHT is part of the official selection of the Wildscreen Film Festival 2022. A satisfaction for Dax Dasilva. “The goal with the films made around the preservation missions supported by my foundation is to help raise awareness and invite people to get involved to encourage governments to take action”.
In our interview dedicated to Lamya Essemlali, the president of Sea Shepherd also confirms that since the release of Caught solutions are currently being discussed with the Ministry of Ecology in France. Like what, the strength of the images allows the awareness even among the leaders.
And Dax Dasilva does not intend to stop there, the next film which will be presented to the public is devoted to the protection of gorillas in Congo. And here too there is urgency. The mountain gorilla is now in critical danger of extinction under the combined effect of poaching, habitat loss and diseases brought by humans.
“I believe in the power of art and culture to influence the way we view the world around us”
Pending the posting of these films on the foundation’s website, Dax Dasilva has just inaugurated Center Earth to Montreal. The site hosts a 10,000 m2 environmental art exhibition space where the public can explore the French coast, the St. Lawrence River, as well as the Peruvian Amazon through photos and videos that illustrate the process. conservation of the foundation with its partners Sea Shepherd, Nature Conservancy of Canada and Junglekeepers. In the interactive part, visitors will discover the work of Aude Guivarc’h, an allegory of the state of our planet and the impact of human activity on its health.
“I believe in the power of art and culture to influence the way we view the world around us” explains Dax Dasilva. “As dangers old and new continue to threaten the Earth, we hope to inspire change by employing art to remind humanity not only of its role in destroying precious ecosystems, but of its responsibility to restore and preserve Earth for its natural beauty.”
Drawing on his personal journey, Dax Dasilva has invented a new approach that combines art, cinema, music, technology and cultural inclusion in the environmental projects supported by the Foundation. An approach in which the head and the heart are intimately linked and sources of solutions. The entrepreneur-turned-activist invites us to become the actors of the change we want to see: “Now is not a time for pessimism. We need to turn this energy into fuel to find solutions and act now. We are hopeful for the future, so let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work!”
Dax Dasilva: journey of an atypical entrepreneur turned environmental activist – CDURABLE.info