Dylan Powell lives in St. Catharines, Ont. Co-Founder of Marineland Animal Defense, he is active in the animal and earth liberation movements, as well as involved in solidarity organizing with the Haudenosaunee of the Grand River, the migrant justice advocacy community and at risk youth in the Niagara Region. Dylan is graduate of Brock University (Honours History) and current Addiction Education student at McMaster University in Hamilton. Through advocacy work Dylan has lectured and spoken across North America and been featured in International news media outlets. When not hanging out with animals, or dreaming up schemes for social justice, you can find him writing about women’s flat track roller derby.
I came into this world in November of 1984. As my mother was giving birth my father was on a hunting trip up North – stranded and facing hypothermia. As we both returned home safely, we took shelter in a trailer alongside my fathers small shipyard. The Grand River, its mouth reaching out to Lake Erie, was our front yard.
We would spend winters house sitting for an elderly couple who retired each year to Florida. One of my earliest memories was the sheer terror I would feel if I ever got so far away from the house that I could no longer see it. The desire to lay down the strongest roots has been with me my entire life.
Advocacy came to me through two overlapping experiences. First, my parents encouraged a sense of wonder in my sister and I for other animals. From a small age we rescued turtles, rabbits, birds, snakes, cats, dogs and more. My sister, now a veterinary technician, and I never had to struggle to see the natural world, and those we share it with, as having worth. That was apparent.
Alongside this came what felt like an inescapable poverty and endless court and legal battles. The emotional traumas of the rural poor are graft onto me.
I did not need to be convinced that this world was not just. I grew up in an isolated rural community where drugs and alcohol were ritualized – but I made it out alive and found my voice. I took what I saw as the positive qualities of the rural working class mentality I was raised around and applied them – awkwardly.
The trial and error of my life has pushed me to broaden and also sharpen my understanding of what exactly it is we push back against. I fundamentally know that we cannot win, or even hold small victories, without an understanding of community, health, autonomy and solidarity. Everything written here is driven by that knowledge and meant to keep me on that path.