SEN Hero

11th Annual Environmental Activism Awards

The Saskatchewan Eco Network held its 11th Annual Environmental Activist Awards in Spring 2013 as part of SEN's Environmental Film Festival. Dianne Rhodes, one of SEN's board members and representative of presented the 11th annual Environmental Activist Awards to two organizations and one individual. These are environmental leaders who have shown exceptional dedication and courage in their support for environmental issues.

Saskatoon Recipients

Mike Nemeth grew up on a farm in Yellow Creek, Saskatchewan and came to the University of Saskatchewan in 2003 where he completed his degree in Mechanical Engineering. While at the U of S, he became involved in Footprint Designs, an engineering group focused on sustainability-related education and projects. With this group, he designed and built a bike battery charger, biodiesel processor, and (part of) a wind turbine. He also helped coordinate conferences, tours, and events. Mike volunteered with We Are Many for a number of years. He was the principle driver for streamlining critical administrative and logistical components of the organisation (volunteer coordination, internal/external communication) and helped greatly with the Tap Water Station. He also initiated the development of a solar energy co-operative (currently on hold), called Prairie Fire Energy Co-Op, with other members of WAM. As a supporter of active modes of transportation, Mike was the catalyst for reversing a City bylaw which banned long-boarding in certain public areas in Saskatoon. Mike has been integral to getting Energy Efficiency Codes for Buildings on the provincial government's agenda by helping plan a one-day session linked to the Building Saskatchewan Green conference in 2012. Subsequently, the Province of Saskatchewan has started consultations to pass a building code. One of the most valuable things that Mike brings to the table, is his incredible ability to transform ideas into actions and potential outcomes into realities. He is not just a thinker, but a true 'doer' who draws on his cumulative experiences as a farm boy, engineer, and social/environmental activist to bring about practical and meaningful change to our communities.

The Saskatoon Nature Society is a charitable organization, founded in 1955, to bring together those interested in the natural world; to promote the appreciation of nature and encourage a deeper knowledge of nature through observation and sharing of experience; and to support nature conservation projects and be an active advocate for the preservation of plant and animal habitats. The Society's regular activities include: free public monthly meetings featuring information talks, films and other presentations on topics related to nature; many opportunities to observe birds, mammals, insects and plants on free field trips hosted by knowledgeable naturalists; bird counts at Christmas and at other times during the year as part of Bird Studies Canada and the Audubon Society's continent-wide census providing data for scientific use; Young Naturalist Program (in partnership with the Saskatoon Zoo Society) for young people aged five to eleven including workshops, field trips, building and installing birdhouses, banding birds and exploring; and contributing regular articles on nature subjects for publication in local newspapers. The Society supports and promote youth education including the Ecology Camp for Kids at the University of Sasketchewan. It is steward of the Saskatoon Natural Grasslands and Peturrson's Ravine, and has worked in partnership with other organizations to protect the Northeast Swale, and to plan the first annual NatureCity Festival (May 2013). Members represent the Society on local and regional committees dealing with (e.g.) wetlands policy, Saskatchewan River valley developments, and provincial parks.

The Committee For Future Generations was started in May 2011 to work against any proposal to establish a high-level nuclear waste repository in Saskatchewan. At the time, English River First Nation and the village of Pinehouse had already been drawn into negotiations with the Nuclear Waste Management Organization; the village of Creighton was subsequently added to the list.The Committee organised the 7000 Generations Walk from Pinehouse to Regina - about 900km - in the summer of 2011, culminating in a public assembly outside the Legislature building. They organised a petition, calling for legislation banning the storage or transport of nuclear waste in the province: this was presented at the Legislature in May 2012 with more than 12000 signatures from over 200 communities. They have worked tirelessly to educate themselves and their fellow northerners about the dangers of nuclear waste, arriving at stagemanaged meetings in various communities to challenge NWMO and present opposing arguments. They have spoken at numerous meetings throughout the province, funding their travel largely out of their own pockets and through garage sales. They have secured supportive resolutions from Metis Nation Saskatchewan, the Northern Saskatchewan Trappers Association, the Native Womens' Association of Canada, the Saskatchewan Aboriginal Womens' Circle Corporation, Canoe Lake First Nation, the village of La Loche, Beauval N-12 Fur Block Trappers Association and Beauval Interagency Group. Members of the Committee work out of a profound connection to and respect for the land, and stand firmly for a sustainable future, built on traditional wisdom but open to the use of cutting-edge technology when it works in harmony with the natural world. They have moved from simply opposing nuclear waste storage to resisting all advances by the nuclear industry in the north. They have been particularly active in opposing attempts by Cameco and Areva to silence opposition to their expansion plans through a "collaboration agreement" with the mayor and council of Pinehouse signed in December 2012. Through nearly 3 years of struggle, members of the Committee have demonstrated courage, integrity and compassion in all their dealings.

Regina Recipients

Jim Elliott is living an exemplanary life of voluntary simplicity. He does not own a car, rides his bike year round and has been doing so for over 30 years. He has held many careers in the enviornmental field such as as Biology Lab Instructor, Big Blue Box Recycling Centre Manager and a PFRA Tree Nursery Soil Technician. He utilizes his extra time by being heavily involved in his community doing volunteer community work with an environmental focus. He organizes Wings Over Wascana (a nature festival) every year, is involved with the Council of Canadians and Cinema Politica in Regina. Jim Elliott has tirelessly devoted his life to strengthening the environmental movement in Regina.