I admit that I would feel a lot more at ease talking to you at –20C out in the woods or on the lake, am not an indoor person and certainly am not good at making even short speeches. So please accept my comments.
I am very humbled by this recognition of what comes onto natural to me and has been my way of life as far back as I can remember: taking care of our environment. If there is anything positive that can be said about growing up in “hard” times, it is that it makes one appreciate so many things that are taken for granted during “good” times.
Growing up the way I did taught me a lot. Thanks to my parents, esp. my father’s influence, I learned to appreciate what nature had to offer and to try to protect and conserve it for those who come after us: our children. That is fairly easy when one lives in a rural area, but in a large metropolitan area, it is a constant awareness that nothing really remains untouched by “progress”…and that often means pollution by various means or destruction of environmentally sensitive and irreplaceable environments.
I learned fairly early on that one can not take on the Big World.
Once a friend and I asked David Suzuki for moral support against the destruction of part of the Big Lake wetlands.
He told us to take care of our own backyard.
And that is what I have been trying to do since then.
The Big Lake area is large back yard, and the anthropogenic impact on it never ends.
My role models in Alberta were Martha Kostush, Barb Collier/Lily Lake, moral support from David Schindler and Richard Thomas, to name just a few.
I asked for and received help and encouragement from more people than I can thank for here and name: scientist including zoologists, limnologist, foresters, ornithologists, bryologists, botanists, hydrogeologists, engineers, soil scientists, even a trapper, to the staff of the Environmental Law Centre and like-minded supportive friends from BLESS like Dave Burkhart, my son Gunnar who runs my website, to the last council who recognized my efforts and supported councilor Watamaniak’s motion to name a man-made nature conservation area after me.
In 1998, the Grade 5 children of Sam school nominated me as their environmental hero in, and I received an Emerald Award for it. This recognition by the children was a huge encouragement. I was asked to talk to the children and told them the story of George the Dragon slayer. My father’s name was George. When I was quite young, he gave me a silver pendant which I still wear today. It shows Saint George fighting the dragon who stood for evil and had to be defeated. My father told me that evil takes on all different shapes. It does not always look like a dragon, that in our days it was the pollution of our water, soil and air.
My father, in the early 1950’s, had an indoor hydroponic garden patch, was composting secretly under ground since it was illegal in a large city, long before then, taught us to gather wild foods from greens, nuts, roots and berries to mushrooms. Blue candles…