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NEW WESTMINSTER, BC / TERRITORIES OF THE QAYQAYT FIRST NATION AND hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓-SPEAKING PEOPLES — At the 2022 Land Awards Gala, the Real Estate Foundation of BC (REFBC) presented five Land Awards (for projects) as well as the Land Champion Award and Emerging Leader Award (which recognize individuals).
The Land Awards celebrate big ideas and bold leadership in advancing sustainable, equitable, and socially just land use and real estate practices across BC. They honour people and projects that raise the bar for innovation, forge new partnerships, and advance our thinking about our relationships with the lands, waters, and built environments we are all connected to.
On June 9, REFBC welcomed almost 250 guests to the Gala at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster.
“We’re honoured to celebrate outstanding leaders and projects that are demonstrating how we can protect the lands and waters we love, and create resilient and inclusive communities,” said Mark Gifford, CEO of REFBC. “By sharing successes from across BC, we hope to build bridges and inspire lasting change.”
Fred Lee, Metro Vancouver’s “Man About Town,” emceed the event. Special guests included Elliott Slinn, poet laureate of New Westminster; Shawna Davis, author of Majagalee: The Language of Seasons; Tzo’kam, a family of Líl̓wat singers; and Brejera, a Brazilian music ensemble.
2022 WINNERS AND FINALISTS
Land Champion Award
WINNER: Wayne McCrory (Valhalla Wilderness Society and Valhalla Foundation for Ecology)
Legendary conservationist and professional biologist Wayne McCrory has dedicated his life to protecting large and small tracts of ecologically important land across BC. McCrory is a founder of the Valhalla Wilderness Society and the Valhalla Foundation for Ecology. He is also the foremost expert on human-bear conflict and conservation in Western Canada. Over five decades, McCrory, his VWS colleagues, First Nations, and many others protected the Khutzeymateen/K’tzim-a-deen Grizzly Sanctuary, Kitasoo Spirit Bear Conservancy, Valhalla Provincial Park, and Goat Range Provincial Park. His research led to the creation, by the Xeni Gwet’in, of the first wild horse preserve in Western Canada. McCrory worked with the Foundation to protect the Snk’mip Marsh Sanctuary and Jaŝ Chinook Salmon Nature Sanctuary. For 30 years, he worked with many others to end BC’s grizzly bear trophy hunt. McCrory’s leadership has created a rich legacy for BC and the world and has inspired countless people to stand up for bears, wildlands, and endangered species.
Emerging Leader Award
WINNER: Taylor Wale (Gitksan Watershed Authorities)
Taylor Wale is Lax Gibuu from Wilps xGwoimtxw and works as a fisheries biologist with the Gitksan Watershed Authorities, where she plays a key role in watershed stewardship and fisheries management in Gitksan territory. Wale has a BSc in natural resources conservation and an MSc in forestry from UBC, where she was recognized with the Peter H. Pearse Forestry Award and Skills Award for Aboriginal Youth. She honours the Elders and role models who have guided her and serves as a mentor to youth in her community. Wale volunteers as a girls’ basketball coach and plays for the Gitxsan Mystics. Through her professional and volunteer work, she sets an incredible example for youth and anyone working to protect and restore land and water and uphold Indigenous rights and title.
Land Use and Conservation
WINNER: Tsilhqot’in Wildfire Management Project (Gathering Voices Society)
In partnership with Yunesit’in and Xeni Gwet’in First Nations, this project involves the revitalization of fire knowledge and practice, to protect and restore ecosystem function, mitigate wildfires, and enhance biodiversity. The projects aims to expand Indigenous fire practices across BC, empower communities to implement their stewardship approaches, and reduce wildfire risk.
WINNER: Water for Fish (First Nations Fisheries Council of British Columbia)
The Water for Fish project is a unique initiative that brings together dozens of First Nations, fills collective capacity gaps, and enables Indigenous leaders to improve watershed health and governance. It plays a critical role in connecting diverse First Nations and non-Indigenous partners that are interested in improving water management and governance in BC.
WINNER: Tea Creek Farm (Tea Creek)
Tea Creek is an Indigenous-led, culturally safe, land-based Indigenous food sovereignty initiative in Gitxsan territory. Tea Creek Farm is helping to restore the ability of Indigenous nations to grow fresh, healthy food and medicine in an interdependent economy.
WINNER: First Nations Home EnergySave (Fraser Basin Council)
First Nations Home EnergySave empowers First Nations communities in BC to transition towards energy efficient housing. The project has helped build a network of leaders and practitioners in First Nations communities and inspired new programs and policies.
WINNER: Radon in Real Estate: Transforming BC’s Indoor Environments (British Columbia Lung Foundation)
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas and carcinogen that occurs widely in soils, and which can, over time, reach high concentrations in buildings. This project researched policy solutions for radon in the real estate sector and advocated for change.
The Real Estate Foundation of BC (REFBC) is a philanthropic organization working to support land use and real estate practices that contribute to a healthy environment and thriving, resilient, liveable communities. We do this by funding projects, connecting people, and sharing knowledge.
For further information: Stephen Hui, Communications Manager, Real Estate Foundation of BC, [email protected], 778-357-1423
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