Xeni Gwet’in Councillor and former chief Marilyn Baptiste is being awarded the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize — the world’s largest international award for grassroots environmental activism — Monday night, April 20, in San Francisco.
Councillor Baptiste is one of six winners – one from each inhabited continent. She was chosen for her work in leading her community in twice defeating a massive low-grade open-pit gold mine proposal by Taseko Mines Ltd, a press release from the Tsilhqot’in National Government about the award noted.
“The project would have threatened Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) and Yanah Biny (Little Fish Lake)—a source of spiritual identity and livelihood for the Tsilhqot’in Nation, in the caretaker areas of Xeni Gwet’in and Yunesit’in,” the press release stated.
Praising Baptiste’s efforts, Xeni Gwet’in chief Roger William said she worked tirelessly with community and other Tsilhqot’in Chiefs to protect Tsilhqot’in lands from the Prosperity and New Prosperity projects.
“This prestigious award is a great encouragement to all of us,” William said.
It is a great honour to have a community member and leader acknowledged for her work, said Anaham Chief and TNG tribal chair Joe Alphonse.
“We are proud of Marilyn and we celebrate with her success,” Alphonse said. “This is the first time that a member from our Nation has received an international award as prestigious as this – we welcome the positive attention it brings to our Nation’s ongoing efforts to protect our sacred sites.”
Congratulating Baptiste Alphonse also thanked the Goldman Environmental Foundation for choosing to highlight the Tsilhqot’in Nation’s fight to protect their land, culture and traditions.