Eulogy for Robert Hunter - 1941-2005

Bob Hunter with megaphone on GP campaign 1970's
Bob on Greenpeace campaign, 1970's

Bob Hunter at
At the "Free Paul Watson" rally,
Holland, 1997

The time has arrived when we must begin to examine the underlying realities of our relationship to all life around us, the life that we are just beginning to appreciate as the true medium of our innermost identity. We need to move neither further to the Left nor further to the Right - rather, we must seriously begin to inquire into the rights of rabbits and turnips, the rights of soil and swamp, the rights of the atmosphere, and ultimately the rights of the planet. For those in the end are the containers of our entire future evolution, and everything else rests upon whether or not we come to terms with the politics of Earth and sky, evolution and transformation, God and nature. Otherwise, in our lifetimes, we shall suffer the enactment of the saga of Genesis, our expulsion from paradise and the fall of nature itself.

-Robert Hunter
Warriors of the Rainbow 1979

Captain Paul Watson traveled to Toronto for the memorial service for Robert Hunter that was held at Hart Hall at the University of Toronto on Sunday, May 15th.

The Memorial was held at the University to recognize the honour paid to Bob by the University with the establishment of the Robert Hunter Scholarship for Environmental Studies. For Bob, this was a very sweet tribute as he was a lifelong admirer and student of one of the greatest minds that ever graced the faculty of the University of Toronto - Marshall McLuhan.

Hundred of mourners attended the service filling Hart Hall. Outside on the lawn, television screens presented segments from Bob's incredible life. Upon a long table lay hundreds of spruce saplings. The roots wrapped in burlap with a note from Bob asking that the little trees be planted.

The speakers sat on the stage after being escorted into the room by a Scottish bag-piper. It was not lost to the crowd that only at a memorial honouring Bob Hunter would Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty be seated on the dais with Captain Paul Watson sitting on his right and Steve Shallhorn of Greenpeace sitting on his left.

In the audience was a "who's who" of the Ontario environmental community mingling with the staff of City TV, politicians, and friends and family of Bob Hunter.

Some of the co-notables in attendance were Elizabeth May, the Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada; Dr. David Lavigne; Steve Best; LeeAnn Mallet; Dan McDermitt; Michael Mandolsen; and so many more

The presentations were hosted by Gord Martineau of City TV.

Letters were read from Prime Minister Paul Martin and from David Suzuki.

Premier McGuinty opened the ceremony with a wonderful speech praising Bob and his contributions to the environment, to the media, and to activism. He said that he was a student of Bob Hunter and that Bob was instrumental in influencing the government's approach to seeking alternative energy and cutting back on the use of coal in power plants.

The Premier was followed by Emily Hunter, Bob's youngest daughter. Emily crewed on the Farley Mowat in 2004 like her elder sister Justine did in 1987 on the Divine Wind and her father before her on so many occasions. Emily gave a beautiful eulogy for her father.

Emily was followed by Moses Znaimer, the founder of CityTV and the man who brought Bob to Toronto for his television career.

Steve Shallhorn represented Greenpeace and spoke about Bob's contribution to the founding of the Greenpeace Foundation.

Bob's eldest son Conan Hunter's eulogy brought laughs to the room when he began his talk with "I am Conan, son of Bob." It was an inspiring presentation of love and fondness for the man who fathered two sons and two daughters.

In the audience, Bob's son Will and his daughter Justine wept as Conan spoke as they did when Emily spoke.

Bob's children have followed in his footsteps. Conan with computers; Justine as a journalist; Will as an energy activist and gas-masked activist at the Quebec World Trade Organization demonstrations; and Emily as an artist and marine wildlife campaigner.

Captain Paul Watson followed with a powerful speech in remembrance to Bob. Watson was followed by CityTV news director Stephen Hurlbut, and finally, by Bob's incredible wife Bobbi Hunter. She said that Bob promised her only one thing when they were married and that was that life with him would never be dull and he more than delivered on that promise.

Bob Hunter on SSII Looking to Sea
On the Sea Shepherd II, looking out to sea

Bob Hunter on SSII with crew
2nd from left, on SSII with crewmembers

Text of Captain Paul Watson's Eulogy for Robert Lorne Hunter:

Eulogy for Robert Lorne Hunter

Bob Hunter was my friend and teacher for thirty-five years.

But more importantly Bob Hunter was a friend of our planet Earth in ways that still have not been fully appreciated or recognized.

If Ecology becomes the religion of the future - as I believe it will - Bob Hunter will be known as our ecological Messiah.

Although Bob was not resurrected in the flesh, 2000 years from now, there will be Hunter admirers and scholars who will swear that he was indeed resurrected.

And they will still read of how Hunter and his comrades sailed into the hellish jaws of the nuclear monster in 1971

And how Hunter and his ship-mates sailed forth to battle the Whale-killing Goliaths of Doom in 1975 and 1976.

And how Hunter and his crew stood down the sealing ships, blocked the super tankers, and created a global movement.

Bob was a visionary who searched for and offered solutions. The future that Bob foresaw was not the future he desired for his children and grand-children. His life was dedicated to leading us to a better tomorrow.

His books, especially Thermaggedon and Warriors of the Rainbow, will be read hundreds of years from now when his legacy will be more understood and more deeply appreciated.

Bob Hunter is a Canadian who is bigger than Canada. He belongs to the world now because he was first and foremost - a citizen of the Earth.

I have been collecting the articles and obituaries for Bob from around the world these past two weeks. I don't believe there is another Canadian since Pierre Trudeau who has received such outpourings of global grief and accolades of recognition.

Of course, Bob's most loyal supporter was his wife Bobbi. By himself Bob was a great man - with Bobbi by his side he was a greater man. I know from my experience with both of them that the one made the other.

And how perfect that they shared the same name - Robert and Roberta.

Bob Hunter believed in reincarnation. I had many discussions with him about this because I used to believe in reincarnation, in another life, although not in this one. But if Bob is right, then I am certain that he collected enough karmic points in his latest life to put himself well along the road to Nirvana in his next life.

Today we honour his last incarnation, a life blessed with many skills and virtues: Writer, journalist, philosopher, activist, ecologist, field tactician, artist, screen writer, teacher, visionary, media critic, politician, and loving husband and father.

A man blessed with an incredible sense of humor and joi'd'vie.

Bob was a Warrior of the Rainbow. He took risks. I was there with him on the front lines before the harpoon guns and in front of sealing ships and what I saw was a man without fear. He was where he was because he loved life and he loved this beautiful, wonderful, magical planet we called the Earth.

And love always triumphs over fear.

He was a man of great love and forgiveness who never let a disagreement or political difference fester into ugliness. He could sail on a Greenpeace ship or a Sea Shepherd ship because he was a part of us both. He understood the Foundation and the 2nd Foundation. He always saw the bigger picture.

Bob Hunter loved his family and his friends, and I can see from all of you who are here today, many of whom have traveled from far away that you, like I, loved this man and he will remain forever as an icon, an inspiration, and example of a truly great human being.

On May 2nd, Robert Lorne Hunter returned to the Earth from which he came. He is gone from our lives but not our hearts and he will forever live on in the legacy that he has left not just to all of humanity but to all sentient beings.

In the sea, the dolphins cry and the whales lament the loss if this brave defender. The wind whispers his name through the Eastern Maples and the western cedars, and we, well, we will carry on his call to action and return to the battlefields, be it the courts, the schools, the airwaves, the legislature, the high seas, the forests, or the urban jungle.

In honour of Bob, Sea Shepherd will be embarking on a capital campaign to purchase a sailing ship to be powered by alternative fuel sources like wind, solar, and bio-diesel. It will be a ship dedicated to research and activist campaigns including global warming and climate change.

The ship will be the Robert Lorne Hunter.

Bob is going back to sea.

Donations and pledges can be made towards the purchase of the research vessel Robert Lorne Hunter by sending to Sea Shepherd and earmarked for the vessel.