A small group gathered to celebrate Kat Hartwig at the Castledale rest stop Thursday, April 21. (Wildsight photo)

A small group gathered to celebrate Kat Hartwig at the Castledale rest stop Thursday, April 21. (Wildsight photo)

Kat Hartwig selected as Ellen Zimmerman Award recipient

It’s the second year that the award has been given out

Kat Hartwig has been selected as the recipient of the 2022 Ellen Zimmerman Award.

From her early efforts as president of Wildsight’s Invermere Branch in the 1990s to her internationally-recognized conservation leadership today, Kat Hartwig has been recognized as this year’s Ellen Zimmerman Award recipient.

The Ellen Zimmerman Award committee made a unanimous decision to honour Hartwig after a call for submissions drew an impressive list of candidates from across the region.

“Kat is the perfect candidate for the award because of her unwavering commitment to protecting high environmental standards in this place she has called home for most of her life,” said Baiba Morrow, current president of Wildsight Invermere.

“She has always been a passionate defender of wildlife, biodiversity, wild places and water stewardship.”

Hartwig has deep roots in the upper Columbia Valley where she grew up and continues to call home. She was heavily involved in the East Kootenay Environmental Society (the precursor to Wildsight) and the land use and forestry battles of the 1990s, wearing many different hats during that time. In 2005, she began the Lake Windermere Project.

Hartwig went on to found Living Lakes Canada, using the Lake Windermere Project as a model for successful community based lake stewardship. Living Lakes Canada facilitates collaboration in monitoring, restoration, and policy development initiatives for the long-term protection of Canada’s lakes, rivers, wetlands and watersheds impacted by climate risk.

Hartwig’s work continues today locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. She is an advisor on the Panel for Global Water Futures, Canada’s First Research Excellence Fund, and for the Lake Windermere Ambassadors; BC Water Leaders Consortium. Her current board positions include: the Columbia Basin Water Stewardship Network, and German-based Global Nature Fund.

The Ellen Zimmerman award was created in 2021 to honour the late Ellen Zimmerman, who passed away in 2020 after a length battle with cancer.

Zimmerman was known in the community for her staunch championing for the wild creatures and places in the Columbia Valley that she will be most remembered for.

She was a passionate volunteer and advocate for the Golden Women’s Centre and Wildsight.

She stuck up for the environment and was a tireless advocate for conservation in the East Kootenay, being a proud and trusted member of Wildsight for more than 30 years.

Her tireless advocacy resulted in the protection of the Cummins River Valley as a BC provincial park.

The upper Wood River presently remains as intact wilderness as the result of multiple negotiations with government and industry inspired by Zimmerman’s passion. She was recognized internationally for her work, receiving the prestigious Femme de Terrre (Woman of the Earth) award in 2006.

“Ellen helped pace the way for women to find our place in the environmental movement,” said Robyn Duncan, executive director at Wildsight.

“Ellen was passion embodied – fiery, passionate and doggedly stubborn, she never backed down from a fight to protect nature or defend women’s rights. She leaves behind a tremendous legacy.”

The inaugural award went to Rachel Darvill in April 2021.