Langley’s Environmental Heroes for 2016 were celebrated under soggy skies at Fort Langley National Historic Site on Saturday afternoon.
In front of about 65 people crowded under tents, winners were named in three categories – Individual, Group or Business and Youth – before a heritage apple tree was planted outside the fort’s palisades.
Ann Blaauw won in the Individual category for establishing Blaauw Eco Forest in north Langley. The family donated millions of dollars for the project in memory of Ann’s late husband, Thomas.
The donation was part of a covenant agreement with Trinity Western University, whereby students will preserve the forest for education, research and community engagement.
Speaking on behalf of her mother, Janet Wiens said the donation not only allowed the family to have a beautiful place to remember their father, but enabled them to “give Trinity Western a place to continue their environmental studies, which in return will help to grow, protect and educate future generations, as well as provide a park and green space for the Langley Communities to enjoy.”
Also nominated in the Individual category were: Royanne Jantzen and Brenda Hobbs.
Janet Wiens, right, speaks on behalf of her mother, Ann Blaauw, who was named this year’s Environmental Hero in the Individual category.
The winner in the Business or Group category was the Coastal Painted Turtle Project. Represented by biologist Andrea Gielens, the project team won for their efforts to return the endangered turtle’s population to a sustainable level.
Gielens said the $500 honorarium, which each group received from TD Canada Trust, as part of the award will be used to purchase additional incubators, allowing them to protect and rear more turtles.
Also nominated for Business or Group were: New West Gypsum Recycling; Phoenix Fire Prevention; Langley School District and Cloverdale Fuel Ltd.
Desiree Chek-Harder won in the Youth category. The Langley Fine Arts School student spoke about the importance of volunteerism and education.
“I believe it’s important for people to be educated about nature and sustainable development in an engaging way, and that is the type of education we strive to promote throughout the Fort Langley Community Garden,” she said.
Also nominated in the Youth category were: Chloe Gillis and Denver Haak.
The awards, which are now in their 10th year, were introduced by Langley-Aldergrove MP Mark Warawa.
Warawa called the anniversary “a milestone.”
“For 10 years we have highlighted the important work of those who give their time and energy to promote environmental stewardship in Langley.
This year, John Aldag, MP for Cloverdale-Langley City joined the list of sponsoring organizations, which also includes Fort Langley National Historic Site; Langley Environmental Partners (LEPS); TD Canada Trust; Township of Langley; City of Langley and the Langley Times.