Welcome to our Q & A series with staff meant to help you get to know us better. Alex Tesar is Communications Manager for Oceans North and has a background in journalism and marine policy. He earned a master’s degree in marine management from Dalhousie University and is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Q: How long have you worked for Oceans North and what does your job entail?
I joined Oceans North in March 2019 to work on the communications team. I don’t really have an ordinary day which is a bit of a cliché, but it’s true! For example, I might be writing press releases, pitching stories to the media, writing emails for our mailing list or talking to campaign leaders about how to share our message. When I wake up in the morning, I don’t know what I’ll be doing that day until I do it.
Q: Describe your job in three words.
Moving words around.
Q: What do you like most about your job? What are the biggest challenges?
What I like is that it’s an opportunity to work on something meaningful—specifically ocean conservation in partnership with Indigenous communities. I get the chance to see actual progress and positive outcomes. For example, last December the federal government agreed to invest $800 million in four Indigenous-led conservation projects, including the Omushkego Conservation Project in western James Bay and efforts to protect the Qikiqtani Region in Nunavut. I also enjoy the people I work with and thrive in an environment of somewhat managed chaos.
One of the biggest challenges with our public-facing work is that the world is saturated with information and we’re competing with so many other demands for people’s attention. We need to figure out how to find support for complex issues that sometimes involve difficult tradeoffs. And we have to balance advocating for our goals with communicating truthfully and clearly with the audiences we are trying to reach.
Q: What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I’m enrolled in the creative nonfiction program at the University of King’s College in Halifax right now. It’s hard work but I feel a sense of accomplishment and am getting to use a different part of my brain.
I enjoy cooking fancy meals with seasonal ingredients that I buy at the local farmer’s market, although secretly I could just eat a stir fry every day. I also do a lot of crossword puzzles and can spend up to an hour doing the New York Times spelling bee on my phone!
Hiking with my partner and my dog Dr. Tony Spaghetti is another favourite activity. He’s a husky mix and loves to swim when we go most weekends to the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area, which is under consideration to become an urban national park. For the first few months he was scared of swimming. But now he loves it so much he’ll even break the ice so he can stand up to his haunches in the cold water!
Q: Where’s home?
That’s a complicated question because I have a lot of different homes across Canada. I was born in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, and lived there until we moved to Ottawa when I was about eight years old. Ottawa seemed very big coming from Yellowknife, but it was a good place to be a kid. I moved to Halifax 14 years ago to go to university and love living near the ocean. The city is the perfect size, a mix of big city and small city—you can get food delivered at midnight but your neighbours still smile at you!
Q: What is something surprising about you?
I have a black belt in Taekwondo that I got when I was growing up in Ottawa. I became interested in martial arts because of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! But after I began taking lessons I wanted to drop out. My parents insisted I finish what I’d started and I’m glad I did.
Q: Where do you find inspiration for the long haul?
I like to spend time outside, especially at the ocean, to reconnect with nature and the reasons I’m doing this work. I also volunteer with the Back to the Sea Society, an educational program with a touch tank aquarium where kids can see and interact with starfish, hermit crabs and other sea creatures. I love to see kids’ wonder and awe when they’re introduced to these creatures because that’s what I feel when I go to the ocean.
Ruth Teichroeb is a regular contributor to Oceans North and is former communications director. She lives in Seattle, Washington.