August 20, 2010

Jennifer Atchison, 1938-2010, Passionate Burnaby Streamkeeper, Environmental Advocate

Jennifer was always swimming upstream, leading by example, pushing and prodding, collaborating and cajoling. She was the heart of the Stoney Creek Environment Committee, and was instrumental in that group achieving so much environmental restoration in her watershed in conjunction with many partners including the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the City of Burnaby.

As president of the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society, I extend our condolences to Jennifer's family and our fellow streamkeepers at Stoney Creek.

I am grateful I had the opportunity to work with Jennifer at least a little over the last ten years. She was always a joy to meet at streamkeeper events and activities. I was also fortunate to be present when she received two well-deserved awards: the City of Burnaby's Environment Award for Community Stewardship in 2010, and a BC Achievement Award in 2008.


City of Burnaby Environment Award 2010
L to R: Greg Bartle, City of Burnaby Long-Range Planner - Environmental Stewardship;
Jennifer; Burnaby Councillor and Environment Committee Chair Dan Johnston


BC Achievement Award 2008
L to R: MLA Harry Bloy, Jennifer, BC Premier Gordon Campbell

As you can see by the above photos, she was physically diminutive, but she'd latch onto my arm, tilt her head up, focus on my eyes nearly two feet above her own. . . and keep me fixed in her sights until she'd imparted a key message she wanted me to hear :-).

Many of us in the streamkeeper community, and I suspect many politicians and bureaucrats as well, will miss that arm lock, that intense gaze . . .

So let's remember and honour her unwavering message of watershed restoration and protection, and the right of every human being, fish, and animal, to live in clean water and a healthy natural environment, even in urban areas.

Posted by Paul at August 20, 2010 10:28 PM