SEN Hero

8th Annual Environmental Activism Awards

The Saskatchewan Eco Network held its 8th Annual Environmental Activist Awards in Spring 2010 as part of SEN's Environmental Film Festival, See the Change Be the Change. This year a number of fine individuals and groups received awards at the Saskatoon, Regina and Craik Festivals. Congratulations to all of the recipients!

Saskatoon Recipients

Over the last thirty years, Candace Savage has written dozens of books and articles that have carried the conservation message across the province, across the country and beyond. Ms. Savage served as a nature correspondent for National Public Radio in the U.S. Closer to home, she has served on the board of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and is currently an active and effective Director of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Saskatchewan Region, who nominated her for this award. Her master work, Prairie: a Natural History, has sold out of its first edition and will be re-released, revised and updated in 2011. A prairie person, born and bred, she has been a co-sponsor of a scholarship in grassland ecology at the University of Saskatchewan and is currently undertaking the restoration of a quarter section in the Carpenter Hills, in collaboration with her partner, Keith Bell. Candace Savage's contribution to environmental awareness has been recognized by the Rachel Carson Institute, Chatham College in Pennsylvania. The Board of Directors of SEN believe that it is time to recognize Ms. Savage in her home province.

Peter Prebble has worked on Saskatchewan protected areas, in particular Dore Lake and the Great Sand Hills. Over 140 hectares were protected due to Peter's diligence and commitment over the years to the Great Sand Hills. Peter worked on water conservation plans for Saskatchewan. Peter's determination that this be a success was truly admirable. Renewable Energy work is in many ways Peter's passion. No one has quite the depth of knowledge and yet the commitment to learn more. He is a champion of renewable energy, travelling throughout the province giving talks and presentations. People in Saskatchewan are truly benefitting from his very balanced and well-researched information. Mr. Prebble's other contributions are in his efforts to re-establish the Office of Energy Conservation and the work that he did to arrange for the purchase of Tipperary Creek, which is now the Wanuskewin Heritage Park. Peter is a kind and gentle man who is always interested in what a person has to say - a truly good listener! He recognizes that though he has taken a large role, the work to which he has been given credit could not have been accomplished without the support and assistance of many others: ranchers, farmers and residents of Saskatchewan.

Karen Weingeist was one of the founders of the Coalition for a Clean Green Saskatchewan (CCGS) in 2006, established with the dual purpose of opposing the expansion of the nuclear industry in Saskatchewan, while promoting alternative renewable, clean energy. The goals of the Coalition were formed with the intention of contributing to environmental sustainability through protecting all living beings, waters and soils from the radioactive toxicity that result from nuclear operations, accidents, and waste storage. Karen has tirelessly worked ever since the inception of the Coalition to maintain CCGS's direction providing a major proportion of the administration of the Coalition on a volunteer basis. Karen played a major role in organizing meetings throughout the province with internationally renowned speakers such as Helen Caldicott, Gordon Edwards, Tim Weiss and others. Ms. Weingeist played a key role in arranging debates between nuclear industry representatives and opponents of nuclear energy. Karen is unassuming and prefers working behind the scenes to advance the cause of sustainable, renewable clean energy.

The Coalition for a Clean Green Saskatchewan too is being recognized. As an entirely volunteer-run organization, hundreds upon hundreds of hours are donated to researching and disseminating information on nuclear energy at a time when nuclear energy is being promoted in the province of Saskatchewan. Pamphlets and letters to the Editor appear everywhere focussing on the comparative costs on nuclear energy vs. cleaner, accessible alternatives; on the hazards of nuclear waste and the contamination of land and water that occurs for hundreds of thousands of years. The Coalition was effective in creating a groundswell of opposition to nuclear reactors and a similar groundswell of support for alternative energy on a smart grid. The Coalition put sustainable energy solutions into the language and on the lips of average citizens.

Regina Recipients

Paule Hjertaas's education in Health Sciences (Diploma) and Biology (B.Sc.) prepared her for life-long learning and sharing in ecology, bird life, environmental chemicals and health, and now the visual arts. When she became extremely “sensitive” to chemicals, she developed expertise in environmental chemicals, their effects on children and adults, and safe alternatives. In 2005, Paule created the Saskatchewan Network for Alternatives to Pesticides (SNAP) and, as president, has persisted in educating the public and politicians. Through her Organic Gardening Classes she shares her knowledge about healthy living and growing. As biologist, Paule has focused on birds and their vital importance in the ecology and in our human lives. Pouring over research and reports, writing for various media, talking with people in conferences and EcoFairs, she spread her passion to preserve ecosystem and human health. Her new channel is visual art and photography, through which she supports environmental and conservation organizations.

Jim Harding is a long-time peace and environmental activist, social scientist, and retired director of the School of Human Justice at the University of Regina. His capacity to detail and speak out persistently against systemic injustices is legendary, and he has inspired a generation of activists in this Province. He is a founding member of the Regina Group for a Non Nuclear Society and the International Uranium Congress, and was director of research for Prairie Justice Research at the University of Regina, where he headed up the Uranium Enquiries Project. He also acted as the Prairie Correspondent for Nuclear Free Press and consultant to the NFB award winning film Uranium. In the 1980s, Jim was at the core of community concerns over uranium mining and plans of the nuclear industry to build a refinery, and he chronicled that struggle in his book Canada's Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System. Foreshadowing the recent renewed attempts by the nuclear industry to expand in our province, his book tour across the country did much to revive awareness about the dangers of nuclear power and to promote development of renewable energy. Jim's speaking engagements, articles on the report, and his organizational work helped ensure a high level of public participation at the consultation meetings.

Catherine Verrall was born in 1929, the year women legally became "persons". This seemingly diminutive woman packs a large punch when it comes to human and environmental rights. She sees the environment as encompassing the whole cosmos, including all beings within the cosmos, and the well-being of humans depends on the health of our natural environment. She sees war as destroying the nature support systems as well as the people. Catherine leads by example, she discovers ways to walk more lightly on the earth daily. In Brantford, Ontario, Catherine was active stopping an access road which would have environment damage and impact health and social well-being through the Brantford Transit Users' Group, the Ontario Better Transport Coalition, and the Brant Country Environment Group. In Regina, she has been involved with the Regina Raging Grannies, the Regina Peace Action Coalition, the Regina Citizen's Public Transit Coalition, Transport 2000 Prairie Branch, Making Peace with Earth Conference, the "Making Peace Vigil" and the Environment committee of Kairos. She was given the 2009 Women of Distinction Award (Regina) for Science, Technology and Environment.

Campbell Collegiate Envrionmental Club has been recognized for their achievements on working towards a sustainable future. During the 2008-09 school year, the students at Campbell Collegiate successfully pursued two very ambitious projects. For their year long project, the students raised over $20,000 to install solar thermal panels for the roof of their school. With the support of their families, the community, Kelln Solar, The Co-operators and the Regina Public School Board, the panels were installed in the summer of 2009. The students also organized and hosted a city wide eco-fair at their school in the spring of 2009, which brought together elementary schools, other high schools and faculty for a day of eco-learning.

For the 2009-10 school year, the students are at it again. The project for 2000-2010 is the Campbell Extreme Makeover: School Yard Edition. The students are planning to revitalize an inner courtyard which is currently unusable by students. The plan is to clean up the space, open it up to students and make it an example of urban sustainability. The plans will include composting, rain water collection and the use of native prairie species. The students are currently working with the City of Regina and Regina Public Schools to develop the plan. Again the students are showing enthusiasm and dedication to their cause. They are becoming leaders in their community by setting an example of sustainable living.

Craik Recipients

by Kelly Green

I would like to nominate 2 people as environmental activists in my community of Craik, Saskatchewan: Shirley Eade and Glenn Hymers. Both are founding members of the Craik Sustainable Living Project, and are still very active in the organization to this day.

Shirley Eade is the first person I met in Craik while she was the Town Administrator back in 2006. Upon noticing a pamphlet about the CSLP/eco-centre/eco-village I inquired with her and she enthusiastically started to tell me about it. It was then that I thought I'd like to make Craik my home. Shirley gave me the keys to look at the home I now own. Since moving to Craik, Shirley has been active in just about every event and project the CSLP has been involved. Plus, Shirley has no doubt helped her husband who is also deserving of praise for the thousands of trees he's planted in the area over the years, and doing the work necessary to get the Craik Golf Course Audobon Certified. Austin and Shirley also help with tours, Eco-Centre maintenance, construction, and renovations. Shirley has been the lead organizer for the Annual Solar Fair since 2007. The Solar Fair draws people from across the province and beyond. Shirley has also been instrumental in the CSLP Health Committee. Often the meetings are in her kitchen. That sub-committee of the CSLP has organized several Eat Local events and Family Fun Days. To sum up, Shirley is a pillar of our community and a vital part of the CSLP and all of its efforts.

Glenn Hymers is probably one of my favourite people of all time. We first met when I was only a few days in town. While dragging a projector, batteries and inverter down to the town elevator for a late night screening, he was out for a stroll. He was intrigued by the unannounced screening and later on came by with his wife, Brenda Heaslip. I can't remember if we talked about CSLP or the environment, but did have some conversation about the state of the world as it was thematically displayed on the movie.

A founding member of the Craik Sustainable Living Project, Glenn was the Chair of the CSLP when I joined. His knowledge and enthusiasm of the CSLP and its projects was immediately infectious. Glenn was, and is supportive of every CSLP project. Glenn has acted as MC for many events, and often speaks on behalf of the CSLP at others. Glenn has conducted many tours of the Eco-Centre and surrounding area. I interviewed him and recorded a tour he gave me once for the rabble podcast series "Green Town Times". Every time I have an opportunity to listen in on one I wonder what it must have been like to be a student of his. Glenn taught school in Craik for more than 30 years. Glenn's thirst for more knowledge is immense. He helped to organize the CSLP Library Collection, which is now available across the province. He was instrumental in construction of the Eco-Centre xeriscape garden and has laboured very hard in its upkeep. He has hand painted a number of 'no idling' signs for the community, and been active in the campaign for pesticide reduction and awareness - both initiatives of the Health Committee. Glenn and his wife have made many carbon reducing renovations to their house. They have a wonderful, bountiful, pesticide free garden.