Denman Island Chocolate : Sweet Solidarity
RAVEN and Denman Island Chocolate go way back: all the way to 2014, when the island-based social enterprise stepped up to support our campaign to stop a tar sands pipeline. We spoke with owner Daniel Terry about how and why his company is dedicated to putting solidarity into action.
“When the Enbridge pipeline was proposed to run out of Kitimat against all common sense, we signed on with the Pull Together campaign to help support First Nations’ legal battles to fight the pipeline along its length,” said Terry. “We came up with a fundraiser bar to raise money for the cause. Chocolate bars punch way above their weight: they’re a tiny little billboard. That was one that we actually won: that felt good.”
Now, Denman Island Chocolate has stepped up again, this time as a festival sponsor for RAVEN’s unique “Festival Afloat”. With floating shows on the water in Victoria, on Salt Spring, Vancouver and Montreal, the festival is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate marine ecosystems, while raising solid funds for important Indigenous legal challenges to protect the environment.
“We’re kayakers,” says Terry. “The idea of a festival afloat is just a fantastic idea. We got on this right away: of course, supporting RAVEN is also a great thing.”
Speaking about how his social enterprise has been a vehicle for him to put his values into action, Terry says, “If you’ve been given a lot of advantages, it’s incumbent on you to share and give back. Working with RAVEN was a really good example: it was something I felt passionate about but it wasn’t my story. It was a First Nations story. They were doing all the hard work. Without the First Nation legal efforts, it’s possible that pipeline would be being built right now.”
“In the best possible scenario, you’re supporting a business that shares your ethics, and is accurate and forthcoming about how they put that into practice. Worst case scenario, it’s greenwashing. I think everybody has to be a little bit more personally proactive: if necessary, call someone up, and tell them you like their product, but ask them about what their stand is on the issues. Don’t just trust their social media feed.”
“I get to feel good about what I’m doing when I get up in the morning and go to bed at night. We also attract partners who share our values, so it’s a bit of community building. The parts that are good are really good. That’s more important to me than what the balance sheet says.”
Another bonus? “We live in part of the chocolate factory, and everything does smell of chocolate: my clothes, my hair… I’m imbued,” he laughs.