The Sunshine Coast Conservation Association has given the John Hind-Smith Environmental Award to Sechelt resident Linda Williams in recognition of her long-term commitment and work in protecting local ecosystems.
The award, named for the renowned local conservationist who died in 2005, was presented to Williams during the association’s 22nd anniversary celebration, held at Roberts Creek Hall on Saturday, Feb. 9.
Williams, a longtime resident of Tuwanek and a founding member of the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association (SCCA), told Coast Reporter she was shocked when she received word of the honour because she thought others were more deserving of it at this time.
“Someone called me up and said I’d won the award and I said, ‘What? I was hoping maybe I’d win it posthumously.’”
The award is not bestowed annually, but as the occasion arises. It was given to the shíshálh First Nation in 2016 and to environmental advocate and former Gibsons councillor Dan Bouman in 2014.
Bouman was on hand Saturday to share presentation duties with SCCA member George Smith. The pair listed 10 reasons why Williams deserved the honour, including her 21 years on the SCCA board, which she left last year. They also cited her leadership of the Tetrahedron Alliance; her environmental stewardship as head of the Tuwanek Ratepayers Association; her involvement in the proposal to create a Mount Richardson Provincial Park; her contribution as a founder and director of the Sunshine Coast Water First Society; and her part in advocating for recognition of the shíshálh First Nation’s consistent efforts in environmental protection.
Said Bouman: “Her brilliant work has been like that of a hidden hand making strategic considerations and conducting research into law, policy and history. In doing these tasks, Linda empowered others to address issues appropriately and knowledgeably.”
Smith recalled Williams’ role in maintaining steadfastness at a time when opponents were subjecting association members to “hurtful abuse” during a dispute over Tetrahedron Provincial Park.
“When things got rather ugly, Linda performed a bit of a mother role by softly telling us not to worry, that our detractors ‘were just being bad boys,’” Smith said, and that kept everyone on “a more balanced high road necessary in respecting all members of the community.”