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Leading Haida Lawyer and Gitanyow Hereditary Chief Joint Winners of 2014 Andrew Thompson Award

November 12, 2014

The winners of the 2014 Andrew Thompson award were announced at our 40th anniversary celebration last week. 

The award was established in 2002 by West Coast Environmental Law and the Thompson family, as a legacy to the late Dr. Andrew Thompson, one of BC’s foremost environmental lawyers.  The award is given periodically to individuals who have demonstrated a significant lifetime contribution to environmental protection and sustainability in British Columbia through the law.  The 2014 award recognized individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the fields of environmental and Aboriginal law, or to the revitalization, recognition and/or enforcement of Indigenous environmental law.   The  award was granted in two categories: the people’s choice and the judges’ choice awards.

This year’s People’s Choice Award winner is Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson, gid7ahl-gudsllaay, a lawyer and citizen of the Haida Nation.  She was the founding Executive Director of EAGLE (Environmental-Aboriginal Guardianship through Law and Education) and has devoted her entire career to protecting ecological and cultural rights, including as lead counsel in the successful 2004 Supreme Court of Canada challenge to protect old-growth forests and the resulting reconciliation over Haida Gwaii.  This award was selected by over 6,000 votes cast online.

The winner of the 2014 Judge’s award is Glen Williams, Malii, President and Chief Negotiator of the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs.  He has spent decades fighting for the preservation and implementation of Gitanyow laws, successfully litigating and negotiating long-term protection for the Gitanyow lax’yip.  This award was selected by a panel of three distinguished judges.

In addition to the award winners, finalists were also honoured at the awards ceremony with a blanketing ceremony performed by Tsleil-Waututh member Rueben George, and West Coast Environmental Law’s Executive Director (Jessica Clogg) and President (Cheryl Sharvit).In addition to the two winners finalists included:

  • Xeni Gwet’in Chief Roger William, who fought against clearcut logging in Tsilhqot’in territory and won the first ever declaration of Aboriginal Title in Canada;
  • Grand Chief Bob Pasco, Chair of the Nlaka'pamux Nation Tribal Council, and who has devoted his life to Nlaka’pamux title and rights to protect and sustain the environment; and
  • Ardith Wal’petko We’dalx Walkem, a lawyer and member of the Nlaka’pamux Nation, who has provided legal analysis, advice and direction to the Union of BC Indian Chiefs for 15 years, serving as a bridge of understanding between environmental laws and policies of the Crown and the inherent laws of Indigenous Title and Rights.

We were deeply honoured to have the opportunity to recognize the award winners and short-listed nominees for their extraordinary work in using environmental, Aboriginal, and Indigenous law to advance the goal of environmental protection.  We congratulate them on their achievement and express our gratitude and admiration for the work they do in helping to keep lands and waters safe and protected.

By Hannah Askew, Staff Counsel