Working with computers since his earliest teenage years, Dax Dasilva seemed destined for a career in tech.
The Vancouver-born entrepreneur fulfilled this destiny when we founded Lightspeed Commerce in 2005—which remains one of Canada’s largest publicly traded fintech firms.
Although Lightspeed is as successful as ever, Dasilva has since moved on to other projects.
In 2019, the BC techie published “Age of Union: Igniting the Changemaker,” a book that presents Dasilva’s “model for the new changemaker, for the leader in all of us, to find purpose in collectively contributing to a better tomorrow, and give rise to an age of union.”
The business-style book targeted a leadership sort of crowd but Dasilva was also advocating for other forms of change in people.
Realizing a book wasn’t going to cut it, he evolved Age of Union two years later from a work of writing into a fully fledged organization pledging to protect endangered species and vulnerable ecosystems.
Backed by an initial gift of $40 million from Dasilva—some $14 million of which was last year allocated to the BC Parks Foundation—Age of Union is a non-profit “environmental alliance” in Montreal that “supports and makes visible a global community of changemakers working on the ground to protect the planet’s threatened species and ecosystems.”
Union’s latest collaboration is with Stand.Earth, an environmental activist nonprofit based out of Vancouver.
The partnership between AoU and Stand has resulted in Forest Eye, a tracking system that combines satellite imagery, remote sensing, and government data to detect logging and road-building in rare and at-risk old growth forests.
So far, the system has tracked 6,000 hectares of logged land in BC.
“These forests are important for our communities, our climate, and our future,” a statement from Forest Eye reads. “In the absence of transparent and reliable information from the B.C. government, this tool was built to empower the public—it allows you to keep a watchful eye on the places that matter to you.”
Alerts go out regularly to those who subscribe via email or text message.
While the swing from fintech and commerce entrepreneurialism to protecting natural ecosystems through nonprofits may seem off-kilter, Dasliva claims his roots in environmentalism run deep.
According to the Canadian entrepreneur, attending a protest on Vancouver Island as a teenager—during which he witnessed firsthand the razing devastation of clearcut logging—was as fateful for his life trajectory as tinkering with his first computer.
Check out how technology continues to advance the prevention, detection, and combatting of wildfires in BC, across Canada, and around the world.