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Memoir chronicles the life of northwest B.C. firebrand, social activist and union organizer

TERRACE – Social activist. Union organizer. Shit disturber. John Jensen’s plain-talk memoir, No Compromise, stands as a primer for a new generation of activists who fight multinational corporations exploiting the many natural resources of northwestern B.C. — while leaving behind clearcuts, poisoned air and toxic waterways.

A proud socialist who championed working people, Jensen joined forces with environmentalists, women’s groups and First Nations to fight corporations such as Alcan, Eurocan, LNG and fracking as well as the many companies chopping down forests to flog raw logs to Asia.

Jensen came to Canada from Denmark. He was a socialist – a conviction and belief acquired from his early years during the Nazi occupation of his home country. Not the socialism of books and the Ivy Tower, his was real-world and frontline where there was, as he would often say, a working class and a ruling class. A biting, sometimes acerbic sense of humour sometimes left people wondering.

The just-released memoirs of a northwestern B.C. labour leader tell the story of the struggle to build Terraceview Lodge on the site of an old army hospital.

Built to care for casualties in case the Japanese invaded the North Coast during the Second World War the hospital sat on the Bench overlooking Terrace.

After the war ended the buildings were converted to an extended care residence called Skeenaview for men of varying abilities.

But when the provincial government ordered residents to be shipped away and the buildings torn down, John Jensen organized a picket line on a cold morning in December 1977 to stop that from happening.

Today Terraceview Lodge, now the largest care facility of its kind in the northwest, sits where Skeenaview once stood.

Jensen’s memoirs also provide glimpses of the people he encountered during his career and a chapter explains what it was like to salvage logs for a living in the waters near Kitimat. Jensen died in 2019, age 90.

With a foreword by provincial environment minister George Heyman and an introduction by Rod Link, a former editor and publisher of The Terrace Standard.

No Compromise launches June 1 and will be available in select bookstores including Misty River Books in Terrace and People’s Co-op Bookstore in Vancouver. Retail price is $20 plus GST.

Walhachin Press is a Vancouver-based publishing co-op. No Compromise is its 13th book.

 

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