Manitoulin Streams receives prestigious environmental award from the province

TORONTO—The Manitoulin Streams Improvement Association has received a prestigious environmental award from the Province of Ontario, recognizing the work the organization and its many local volunteers and private landowners have accomplished in rehabilitating the lakes, rivers and streams of Manitoulin Island.

In citation for the 2013 Minister’s Award for Environmental Excellence, the groups honoured in Toronto “have demonstrated their strong commitment to environmental excellence by using innovative approaches and new technologies to protect the Great Lakes and the environment.”

The citation goes on to note that the recipients of the 2013 Minister’s Award for Environmental Excellence have “collaborated with schools, industry leaders and volunteers to restore wildlife habitat, conserve water and energy, and prevent pollutants and nutrients from entering our Great Lakes.”

“Today we celebrate just a few of the most outstanding efforts of individuals, groups, and companies in protecting our environment,” said Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Glenn Murray in the release announcing the awards. “We hope the examples we see today inspire others to be innovators in protecting our natural heritage; not only because it’s good for the environment, but because innovation helps build a strong economy and create new jobs.”

“Being recognized by the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change for the restoration work and initiatives that Manitoulin Streams has done to date is rewarding for us a grassroots volunteer organization,” said Ted Williamson, chair of the Manitoulin Streams Improvement Association when contacted by The Expositor. “But this award and others we have received would not have been possible if it was not for the private land owners of the sites we have worked on, the volunteers, stewardship rangers, school groups, municipalities, the professionalism of the local contractors and our many funding partners, both private and governmental. This award is for you. Thank you all.”

“Our success is basically the success of all the volunteers and private landowners,” agreed Manitoulin Streams Executive Director Seija Deschenes. “This organization is all about the community.”

Ms. Deschenes noted that most of the funds that flow into Manitoulin Streams help to provide local economic stimulus as well. “We try to spend all of the funds locally,” she said, “including the trees and shrubs that we use. We make every effort to source those materials from local greenhouse operations.”

The award ceremony provided Manitoulin Streams with an opportunity to chat one-on-one with the minister and to see how far-reaching their work has been in promoting Manitoulin.

“Ted Williamson and I were able to sit directly across from the minister during the luncheon and were able to talk to him about our initiative and all the great work that is taking place on Manitoulin Island with all of our partner groups,” said Ms. Deschenes. “We were last to receive the award and the minister took the time to ask how many people had been to beautiful Manitoulin Island and I think almost everyone raised their hands, which was great to see. He complimented us on our great work which was really nice to be acknowledged.”

Manitoulin Streams was not the only Island and Northern Ontario connection with this year’s awards either, noted Ms. Deschenes. “It was nice to meet Doug Hietkamp, who is the director for sustainable programs of Teknion Limited,” she said. “He was also an award recipient and originally from Gore Bay. We also meet Craig Bartlett, who is the Manager of Waste Operations for the Regional Municipality of Durham (originally from North Bay) and we might be looking at seeing if we can get information about their curbside battery recycling program which will help prevent mercury, cadmium and other heavy metals from contaminating the environment on Manitoulin Island and our precious waters.”

The North Bay program provides a fundraising opportunity for the Durham program as well as helping to safeguard local waters from contamination and Ms. Deschenes said that she hoped a similar program can be set up on the Island.

Other groups recognized by this year’s awards included the County of Simcoe; Regional Municipality of Durham; Alderville First Nation Black Oak Savanna; Murray and Wilma Scott; Western University; Teknion Limited; Credit Valley Conservation and IMAX Corporation; and Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) Ontario.