Gelareh Darabi is a broadcast journalist, multimedia producer and world traveller who has well over a decade's worth of experience in the field of journalism, She has worked in all facets of the industry: television, radio, print and multimedia. The focus of her career work has been as a television reporter, anchor and television host - reporting both news and features for leading Canadian broadcasters such as CBC TV, Global Television, CTV and Citytv.
Her on-air career began right out of journalism school when she was scouted to host, report and produce for the long-standing, CBC National consumer-awareness program Street Cents. Street Cents was a teen-themed newsmagazine TV series that originally aired on CBC Television between 1989 and 2006.
It was one of a few shows at that time that focused on consumer and media awareness for young people. The show has won several Gemini Awards and even an International Emmy for Best Youth Programming or Series. The series was lauded by critics for its efforts to be inclusive and representative of Canada's youth. This valuable experience fostered Gelareh's thirst for investigative journalism and passion for consumer rights. During her time on the show, she traveled extensively, collaborating with producers and researchers and presenting award-winning reports.
In 2006 Gelareh joined Global Montreal, as senior anchor on their flagship morning show This Morning Live. The three hour, live, weekday program served as an excellent opportunity for establishing herself as a skilled presenter and interviewer. During her time with This Morning Live she conducted several live interviews per show, many of them with distinguished authors, celebrities, musicians, politicians, comedians and activists.
After the time spent at This Morning Live Gelareh relocated to Toronto where she reported news for Global Television and covered the acclaimed Toronto International Film Festival for several seasons with Bell TV - as a host and red carpet reporter. The fact that she is fluent in several languages, including French and Farsi, allowed her to interview a number of international stars who would have otherwise been over-looked due to language barriers.
In recent years she has been fortunate enough to bring together two of her most cherished passions; multimedia and the environment. Gelareh was commissioned by the National Film Board of Canada to produce an interactive website inspired by an NFB documentary titled Waterlife. The website is a mutli-layered discovery of the Great Lakes and the many environmental dangers that these lakes are facing. The project has since went on to win several awards including a 2009 Online News Association Award for best multimedia feature presentation and a prestigious 2010 Webby.
Gelareh also hosted the weekly environmental web-series Project Green Generation, a series that profiles the stories of young environmental activists of the web generation.
Gelareh often gets asked about Waterlife, the award-winning web-experience that she recently produced with the National Film Board of Canada. The 6-month long project provided her with an exciting step away from her work in television and the opportunity to bring together two of her biggest passions - the environment and multimedia.
The multi-layered website was inspired by Canadian director Kevin McMahon's documentary Waterlife. The film is an in-depth exploration of the Great Lakes, the last source of fresh drinking water on earth and the environmental dangers they face. The task Gelareh faced was to become an expert on the topic and to create a web-experience that would capture the social and environmental messages of the film - while at the same time finding new ways to engage a web audience.
From Beluga whales dying of cancer in the Saint Lawrence River due to years of environmental stress from nearby refineries, to the alarming impact that climate change is having on the entire Great Lakes international shipping industry, she was immersed in the staggering research revealing just how fragile these bodies of water had become.
Gelareh was fortunate enough to interview a number of prominent researchers, activists and scientists on the topic, such as Jennifer Nalbone of Great Lakes United and Pierre Béland of the St. Lawrence National Institute of Ecotoxicology. Their passion and commitment to the Great Lakes gave great strength and backbone to her research, which in turn helped her to visually tell the story.
The Waterlife website has gone on to win a number of awards including an Online News Association Award for best multimedia feature and a prestigious 2010 Webby. It also helped Gelareh in establishing herself as a multimedia producer and gave her an exciting new platform for storytelling.
See the Waterlife Website
"Gorgeous. Crazy good. Stunning. User experience is unlike anything we've seen. They threw in, in an organized way, the kitchen sink on this project and succeeded in presenting an innovative and informative look at the issue of water. There is multi-dimensional, multiple media story-telling going on here. Heads and tails above the rest." - Online News Association
One of the environmental stories that she covered for a segment of Earthrise on Aljazeera English Network was in the Philippines about whale sharks. Gelareh discovered when she visited the fishing town of Donsol in the Philippines, there was a growing recognition that whale sharks were worth far more alive than they were dead.
She met some locals who are now earning a living from ecotourism after protective legislation was put in place, and went diving with them in search of the elusive shark.
Whale sharks are the largest of the ocean's fish - often weighing up to 20 tons. They pose no threat to humans as they mainly feed on plankton in the warm waters of the tropics. These sharks are harmless creatures – docile enough to allow the occasional swimmer to hitch a ride on thier backs.
Although they are a vulnerable species, they have continued to be hunted for their meat in parts of Asia.
Whale shark hunting hit a peak in the 1990s, with prices of up to $800 per kilo of dried fin meat attracting a fresh influx of hunters to Donsol in the Philippines. In 1997 alone around 200 of the creatures were slaughtered and whale shark sightings started to diminish. After campaigning by the local community and conservation groups, whale shark hunting became punishable by Philippine law in 1998.
WWF Philippines, the UNDP and the local government together developed a community-based ecotourism and conservation program with the goal of providing local people with a sustainable income while at the same time protecting the species. In a few years Donsol had been able to transform itself from a small coastal community into one of the world's most popular destinations for whale shark tourism.
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