Three Langley residents were commended this past weekend for all they do to help the environment.
Conservative MP Mark Warawa presented the 12th annual Environmental Hero Awards Saturday at Fort Langley National Historic Site.
He gave the youth award to Elysia Park, the individual award to Ted Lightfoot, and the organization/business award to John Hewitt of Nicomekl Enhancement Society.
Recipients received a $500 donation to an environmental charity of choice, and their name was included on a bronze plaque erected next to a new tree planted along the perimeter of the grounds in the apple orchard at Fort Langley National Historic Site.
Warawa also presented a special acknowledgment during the weekend celebration.
A lifetime achievement award was given in memory of one of Langley’s most devoted environmental stewards, Rhys Griffiths.
“In recognition for his outstanding contribution toward raising environmental awareness in Langley,” Warawa said.
Griffiths passed away in February. The award was accepted by Bob Puls on behalf of Griffiths’ widow, Annabel.
Biographies were provided for each of the winners. The following is those unedited and unverified summaries:
• Elysia Park, with her impressive projects, has been taking the lead when it comes to alleviating environmental problems. After travelling to Ghana as a medical volunteer, she discovered her true calling when she was impacted by the large amount of plastic pollution that was inhibiting development. When she returned to Canada, she contacted a UN-award winning organization that recycles plastics to distribute profits to populations in developing countries. After extensive interviews, Elysia Park became the first Junior Project Manager with this organization. Her role includes acting as a liaison between her community and The Plastic Bank. As part of her advocacy, she led a year-long research project named RATO (Researching Acidification and Temperature of the Oceans). RATO is a multidisciplinary, collaborative research and awareness project that engages others with visual displays of fish tanks, opportunities for research and other ways to contribute to bettering the environment. It is evident that Miss Park has had a profound impact on her community and school. Her nomination for the “Staples Superpower Your School” contest won a grand prize of $20,000 for Walnut Grove Secondary School. She is already a leader who will continue to make an impact from Langley to the neediest parts of Africa. As Elysia expresses it, “I believe that I can’t change the world, but I am certain that I can change myself. If there are enough people changing themselves, then the world will be changed too.”
• Ted Lightfoot has been doing positive things for the environment for over 50 years. Ted continues his positive work for the environment as a steward protecting the fish habitat and riparian area for Nathan Creek (North Langley). Ted and his wife Lynda took on the task of restoring the “Leaf House” in Aldergrove and received Heritage Designation for their work. Ted formed the West Creek Awareness Group and began active participation in WOLF (Watchers of Langley’s Forests), Glen Valley Watershed Society, Langley Field Naturalists and became a director of LEPS. His tireless effort on behalf of all these groups is invaluable to our community. In 2017 Mr. Lightfoot built a mobile display trailer depicting beaver habitat and the beaver as a keystone species of Canada. At his own expense, Ted travelled from Langley to St. John’s (NFLD) bringing awareness to the beaver, its habitat and importance to the history and natural environment of Canada. This trip was highlighted by the raising of the Fort Langley Flag at Signal Hill (St. John’s). This journey touched many who were able to see the display and visit Ted along the way. Along with this epic adventure the display has also been present at the Fort National Historic site, the Fort C.N. Station, the May Day Parade, LEPS summer gatherings and many other special occasions. Mr. Ted Lightfoot is a true environmental hero and ambassador for Langley and continues to lend a hand to any and all that share his interest in our natural environment.
• The Nicomekl Enhancement Society is a 100% volunteer based organization, incorporated under the BC Societies Act in 1991. It is a CRA registered charity and operates a salmon hatchery facility under Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Enhancement Program. On average the Society takes care of rearing and releasing approximately 300,000 salmon fry and smolts annually (Chinook, Coho and chum) into the Nicomekl River and its tributaries. The Nicomekl Enhancement Society works with other community groups, schools and government agencies in maintaining and improving salmonid habitat by providing the following: “eyed” eggs for the “Classroom Incubation Program”, placing spawning gravel throughout the watershed, conducting stream clean-up, planting native riparian trees and shrubs along the stream banks to provide habitat, shade and food for the salmon and to help stabilize the banks to reduce erosion and many other habitat restoration activities. As one of about 50 members and many other volunteers that donate their skills, knowledge and time to support this Salmon Hatchery, I feel we are helping to make a contribution in enhancing the wild salmon stock returning to spawn in the Nicomekl River each year.