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Thesis Defence: An unexpected alliance—A participatory case study of labour-environmentalist collaboration for better transit in the Central Okanagan

March 27 at 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Kristin Pulles, supervised by Dr. Jon Corbett, will defend their thesis titled “An unexpected alliance: A participatory case study of labour-environmentalist collaboration for better transit in the Central Okanagan” in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies – Community Engagement, Social Change & Equity theme.

An abstract for Kristin Pulles’ thesis is included below.

Defences are open to all members of the campus community as well as the general public. Registration is not required for in person defences.


This thesis investigates the role of Kelowna’s public transit union (the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1722 – ATU 1722) and a youth-led environmental group (Fridays for Future Kelowna) in the formation of the Okanagan Transit Alliance (OTA). The OTA is a grassroots movement for better public transit in the Central Okanagan. The central research question is, “how can transit unions engage in climate activism?”. A participatory activist methodology is employed to study the joint campaign for more accessible, publicly managed, and community-driven transit.

The findings are organized into three themes. The first theme is ecosocialism – a political ideology which centers ecological concerns in socialist thought – because the campaign advocates for an ecosocialist goal of ending the private management of Kelowna’s transit. The findings in this area highlight the importance of organizing around people’s basic needs, uncertainty about the role of the government in the campaign, and that engaging in collective struggle is important for developing working-class power. The campaign was co-led by the ATU 1722, and so the second theme, unions, examines their role in the campaign. Under this theme are the findings that the two leading organizations developed a mutually beneficial collaboration, and that the public facing role of bus drivers helped the union build connections with the community. At the same time, contemporary union challenges impacted the ATU 1722’s ability to engage in effective advocacy. Finally, under the third theme of organizing, the research broadly explores organizing tactics to develop the climate justice movement. We found that a welcoming environment and co-creation led to high participation levels, and that relationships were fundamental to the campaign.

This thesis highlights the potential of unions to play a pivotal role in climate activism, bridging the gap between labor and environmental concerns. The case of ATU 1722, Fridays for Future Kelowna, and the OTA serves as an inspiring example of how labor organizations can actively contribute to the broader movement for environmental justice and ecosocialist transformation. This study not only informs the ongoing discourse on the intersection of labor and climate activism but also inspires future collaborations for anti-capitalist climate justice.


March 27
2:00 pm - 6:00 pm


Arts Building (ART)
1147 Research Road
Kelowna, BC V1V 1V7 Canada
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Additional Info

Room Number
Registration/RSVP Required
Event Type
Thesis Defence
Arts and Humanities, Environment and Sustainability, Policy and Social Change, Research and Innovation
Alumni, Community, Faculty, Staff, Families, Partners and Industry, Students, Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Associates