on new year's eve, renownedanti-nuclear activist Irene Kock died in an automobile accident north of Toronto. She was on her way to a party with friends. Her death has left the environmental community reeling. Together with partner David Martin, Irene had taken on the job that few in the movement wanted -- campaigning for nuclear safety, a cause that is virtually unfundable.
For 20 years, the couple worked tirelessly under the banner of the Nuclear Awareness Project and Durham Nuclear Awareness -- both organizations founded by Kock and Martin -- before joining forces with the Sierra Club of Canada last year to raise the profile of nuclear safety nationwide.
Humble intelligence and dedication were her hallmarks. At her funeral Saturday, even those who knew her best were only beginning to understand the immensity of her loss.
Irene's love for the planet, which began at the family greenhouse, was complemented by her gift for research and analysis.
Her passion and professionalism brought national attention to an issue that other environmentalists often found too risky, unpopular and difficult to confront. Irene made these sacrifices, though at tremendous personal cost.
Thanks to her extraordinary efforts, the Canadian anti-nuclear movement attained broad public support in recent years.
As Elizabeth May, executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada and Irene's close friend, said, "It's easy to raise money to save the big trees in BC or furry little animals, but nuclear issues aren't safe and they definitely aren't what you can support (financially) without rocking the boat." Most recently, Irene was working to raise awareness of the Iter project, a proposal to build a $ 14-billion experimental fusion reactor at Darlington. She was my very dear friend, and I will miss her.
Donations in Kock's memory can be made to the Sierra Club of Canada Foundation (416-960-9606).