Activist. Ally. Mentor. Leader. Friend.
As National Policy Director of the Wilderness Committee for more than 15 years, Gwen guided both this organization and its community of allies through many hard-fought environmental campaigns. She touched hundreds of lives as a mentor, ally, activist, leader and friend. Wild rivers, forests, meadows, all creatures big and small including western toads, mountain caribou, sage grouse, killer whales, spotted owls, and bees – these were Gwen’s passions. She stood for the public good defending parks and waterways against all those who would exploit them for personal profit.
Her loss has left a hole in our hearts. But her positive impact on environmental preservation in BC is undeniable. Through the Gwen Barlee Memorial Fund, her legacy will continue.
The Wilderness Committee and Gwen's friends, family and colleagues established the Gwen Barlee Memorial Fund to honour Gwen’s memory and to continue the vital public policy work that was Gwen’s passion:
Parks - Gwen fought fearlessly to protect the wild. She defended BC parks from industrial development and devastating government funding cuts. In her sights was the protection of key contiguous lands for a new national park in the South Okanagan Similkameen. This fund will continue her work preserving the wild nature of BC and Canada’s parks.
Wildlife - Gwen stood up for some of Canada’s most endangered species on the ground and in the courts. Advocating for endangered species legislation in BC was one of her most important causes. This fund will ensure Gwen’s work continues, fighting for at-risk species from grizzlies to wild bees and pollinators and all those in between.
Wild rivers - Gwen’s ferocious defence of wild rivers was one of her defining campaigns. When corporations dammed and diverted BC’s wildest rivers for costly, irresponsible private power projects, Gwen joined forces with community groups and citizens to stop the BC government’s “ruin-of-river” policies. We will keep up that fight in her memory.
Freedom of Information - Strategic use of provincial and federal Freedom Of Information laws was Gwen’s trademark tactic. She created persuasive campaigns based on data gleaned from the government’s own files. She held decision-makers’ feet to the fire, releasing facts to the public to increase government accountability on environmental matters. This fund will support a new generation of environmental activists conducting investigative research.
Strong environmental and economic policy - Gwen’s activism was motivated by the public good. Whether it was eliminating provincial park user fees so that everyone could enjoy the park, or opposing the Site C dam to protect family farmland and First Nation sacred grounds, as well as managing hydro rates, Gwen always believed that the best environmental policy should be the best policy for people.
Help us continue the work that Gwen started. Consider making a gift to the Gwen Barlee Memorial Fund.