Ellen Zimmerman was a staple of the community in Golden, working tirelessly for women's rights, environmental rights and against any injustice she saw. She passed away on March 8 from cancer. (Photo submitted)

Wildsight Golden honours Ellen Zimmerman on Earth Day

An inaugural award in her honour will be presented online today.

Wildsight Golden is looking to build on the legacy of the late Ellen Zimmerman, a long time resident of the Columbia Valley and Parson who passed away in 2020.

An inaugural award will be presented on Earth Day on April 22 in her legacy, awarding a commemorative ceramic art piece and a $1,000 gift to the chosen individual who has contributed to conservation and eduction in the Upper Columbia Region.

At the start of each subsequent calendar year, a call for nominations will be made across the region for award recipients moving forward.

“Ellen was a fierce fighter for the protection of the environment in the East Kootenay for decades,” said John Bergenske, Conservation Director at Wildsight, who worked alongside Ellen in advocating and protecting our natural world.

Citing her many environmental victories, Bergenske said they might not have happened if it were not for her persistence.

“She was a very strong-willed person who didn’t shy away from a fight.”

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.

Zimmerman passed away March 8 2020 after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Not idle to sit around when she perceived an injustice in the community, 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.

Zimmerman put in countless hours into conservation and education across the region, which led to the implementation of many environmental protections and policies across the province.

READ MORE: Wildsight Golden celebrates earth day online

She not only battled for environmental protections, she blazed a trail of advocacy for future generations to follow. 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 Ellen’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, the 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.”

Originally from Bridgeport, Conn., Zimmerman eventually made her way to San Fransisco and then to Golden with her husband and two dogs in 1970, where they settled down and started their life together.

Wildsight’s Earth Day celebration will be held online, with a family friendly scavenger hunt, that will include picking up a bit of garbage to do your part for the environment. The scavenger hunt can be downloaded and printed from the Wildsight Golden website.

The award presentation will be recorded and shown online at https://wildsight.ca/events/wildsight-golden-earth-day/.