Editor’s Note: This is the second of several posts by Think Green columnist Robert Gardner exploring the stories of the young activists profiled in Emily Hunter’s book, The Next Eco Warriors. Hunter will speak at Montgomery County Community College on Monday, Feb. 25 from 12:30-2 p.m. in the Science Center Theater at Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell. A simulcast of the presentation will be shown at the West Campus in the Community Room of South Hall, 101 College Drive, Pottstown.
Growing up in Winnipeg, capital city of Manitoba, Canada, David Nickarz had gotten accustomed to the sight, sound, and smell of the municipality’s “fogging” trucks. Every year, the trucks emerge when the mosquitoes begin to bite—despite emerging evidence of ill-effects of pesticides on human health.
Nickarz recalls the summer of 2002, when he saw protesters on bicycles. They wore bandana masks and blocked the foggers from passing. The masks “made them look like villains from the old west.” He grabbed his camera to better witness the events and soon went from bystander to front-line photojournalist. Shortly thereafter, Nickarz chose a side.
Year after year, the foggers came. Protestors got arrested. The national press paid attention. In 2005, Nickarz was diagnosed with testicular cancer. His days of blocking trucks were over. However, after chemotherapy treatment, he was declared cancer free and got back to work. He and other survivors formed a group to give a face to the issue. He pleaded with the city government to ban harmful pesticides; still they refused to relent.
After five-plus years of being cancer-free, David Nickarz continues to battle the city of Winnipeg over fogging. He also works to protect nature and wildlife and, now, teaches younger activists how to get involved.