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Greenpeace was founded in Vancouver in 1971, originally as the Don’t Make a Wave Committee to protest the testing of nuclear weapons on Amchitka Island, Alaska. With the growing international awareness of environmental issues and to better coordinate their efforts, Greenpeace offices around the World came together in 1979 to form Greenpeace International, based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Greenpeace Canada has been a part of Greenpeace International since its inception in 1979. With offices in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, Greenpeace Canada has a national presence which it uses to raise funds in order to support campaigns.
Greenpeace is independently funded and aims to promote environmental causes through lobbying, public awareness campaigns, and civil disobedience. With Greenpeace International helping to coordinate campaigns in more than 55 countries across the globe, local offices have an important role to raise awareness and respond to local environmental issues. Since its founding, Greenpeace has focused on causes that include ending the testing of nuclear weapons and the dumping of toxic waste in the World’s oceans, opposing whale hunting, raising awareness of acid rain and uranium waste, and achieving environmental protection in Antarctica. While Greenpeace has been involved with a number of civil disobedience activities as part of their campaigns, Greenpeace has also relied upon market boycotts and public awareness to convince people to change their behaviour and businesses to stop buying certain products. This notably occurred with Greenpeace’s campaigns in Clayoquot Sound and the Great Bear Rainforest, which led to forestry companies re-evaluating their logging practices to reduce the amount of old growth forests harvested through clearcutting.
Though Greenpeace Canada is responsible for national and local programs, as a member of the larger international organization Greenpeace Canada supports and participates heavily in international campaigns organized by Greenpeace International. The functions of Greenpeace Canada are divided into five categories which include campaigns, education, democratic development, fundraising, and administration. Campaigning by Greenpeace Canada in recent decades has focused on conservation of wildlife and protecting forest ecosystems throughout Canada, notably with campaigns in Clayoquot Sound in the 1990s and in the Great Bear Rainforest from the 1990s to 2017.