Friday, May 13, 2016

Passing: Steve Lawson, Warrior Defender of the Living World

In honor of the life of Steve Lawson 1948-2016

13 May 2016

From the family of Steve Lawson...

This is to honor the life and memory of well-known environmentalist, Steve Lawson, who passed during the night of May 8th as the Northern Lights danced across the sky from his home on Wickaninnish Island off Tofino to his birthplace in his Anishinabe Territory of Shoal Lake and Whitefish Bay in Southern Ontario.

His family and friends and all who knew him mourn this loss and miss him deeply.

His life as an Indigenous child raised in foster homes to his adult life on the west coast spanned a tumultuous and changing era of recognition of Native rights. From designing and building boats to withstand the open ocean to carpentry and fishing, he managed to be a great father to five children and then a grandfather to five more.

Acting on behalf of the natural world, he is well known for his work as an ecologist in Clayoquot Sound and on Vancouver Island where he attempted to bring an end to the logging of the old growth forests and an end to mining in B.C.'s oldest park, Strathcona Park. He made international news in the effort to stop the trophy hunting and parts market of black bears and to ensure the wild salmon and marine life wasn't harmed by logging and fish farming on the west coast.

As an Ojibwa Native man, his heart was rooted in the natural the wildlife around us and to the spiritual teachings he inherently knew. A wisdom teacher and a patient, peaceful and dedicated man of few words, he was a leader in the most humble sense who strove for integrity and understanding and was an example to all who knew him.

He went to prison for blockading the old growth logging of the forests of Clayoquot Sound, standing beside many chiefs and members of First Nations communities in the defense and preservation of their lands and waters and all future generations. He has been the longstanding coordinator of the First Nations Environmental Network of Canada as well as serving on the board of the Canadian Environmental Network.

Due to his passion for the living world of nature, he was awarded an Animal Action Award by the International Fund for Animal Welfare in 2006 and received a citation from the B.C. Minister of Environment, Lands and Parks in 2000 in recognition of his contribution to the protection and enhancement of British Columbia's environment. He was noted for his work with David Suzuki as well as the Sea Shepherd Foundation.

His legacy remains integral to the well being of British Columbians and global policies. He represented Canada at international levels of Forest conferences for the United Nations and greatly due to his work as well as many others, Clayoqout Sound was declared a UNESCO Biosphere and Strathcona Park was preserved from further mining and resource extraction. Meares Island in Clayoquot Sound remains today a Tribal Park, one of the few designations around the world to have that status and due to the battle for Meares Island, Aboriginal Title was finally recognized across the country in law and brought into the history books in libraries and schools.

Dealing with cancer over the past year and a half brought great challenges but also brought a deeper understanding of the traditional and spiritual knowledge of his people.

It is with deep sadness that his wife, Susanne, his children, Keila, Matahil, Quoasinis (Cosy), MitlaNova (Misty), Oren and his grandchildren, Laterra, Brennan, Mila, Jett and Della as well as the many friends and extended family and acquaintances mourn his passing.

From being a child raised in foster homes with no close family to being an adult having such a great and widespread family of so many, his life has been a fulfilling, productive and powerful example of accomplishment leaving behind a better world.

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