Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Woman Pockets US$175,000 Environmental Prize

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Woman Pockets US$175,000 Environmental Prize

Article excerpt

B.C. woman wins major environmental award


VICTORIA - A woman who led a fight against a proposed open-pit copper and gold mine in British Columbia has won the North American prize in the world's largest international contest for grassroots environmental activism.

Marilyn Baptiste, 45, will pocket US$175,000 at a ceremony tonight at San Francisco's opera house. She will join five other recipients from Kenya, Myanmar, Scotland, Haiti and Honduras at a ceremony attended by more than 3,000 people.

Baptiste is an elected councillor and former chief of the 400-member Xeni Gwet'in First Nations, located about 200 kilometres west of Williams Lake.

The Goldman Environmental Foundation says Baptiste was chosen because of her work in leading the battle against the Prosperity Mine which would have destroyed Fish Lake, a source of spiritual identity and livelihood for First Nations in the south Chilcotin area.

Goldman Prizes are presented annually to people it classifies as environmental heroes from each of the world's six inhabited continental regions. The awards recognize grassroots activists working against all odds to protect the environment and their communities.

"I was like wanting to hang up the phone and say,' No,' I don't want this,'" said Baptiste in an interview from San Francisco.

"But when I look at the fight and the process ahead of us and all the work we have ahead of us, this kind of an award is something that will help us move forward and will help us gain more allies and more public international education."

Previous Canadian winners include the former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations Matthew Coon Come and now-deceased B.C. environmental activist Colleen McCrory.

Baptiste is credited with contributing to two federal environmental review decisions rejecting plans by Vancouver-based Taseko Mines Ltd. (TSE:TKO), to proceed with its Prosperity mine proposals. The B.C. government's environmental assessment agency had granted approval for the mine. …

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