Vancouver’s natural beauty is worth protecting. Our children not only need places to play, but also places to enjoy and explore nature. We all need places of tranquil refuge from our busy lives. The animals and birds that help make our city lives enjoyable need places to nest and raise their young.
People and nature in balance is my vision for our parks and recreation system.
23 June 2017
Wilderness Committee mourns the passing of Gwen Barlee
For Immediate Release - June 23 2017
VANCOUVER – The Wilderness
Committee is deeply saddened by the passing of Gwen Barlee, one of
Canada’s leading environmental advocates. Barlee worked as the
Wilderness Committee National Policy Director since 2001. She was an
invaluable member of the organization’s executive leadership from early
on, guiding the organization through many hard-fought environmental
a strong leader, and a tireless activist for social change. Over the
past 16 years, Gwen distinguished herself as an extraordinarily
talented and determined defender of Canadian wild nature – especially
in her home province of BC. She showed a passion beyond compare for the
defence of the land and the species that call it home. She was a YWCA
Women of Distinction nominee in 2016.
“Gwen was a hero and a mentor. She was one of the most compassionate
people you’ll ever meet – when it came to wildlife, animals, creatures
of all kind,” said Joe Foy, Campaign Director for the Wilderness
She was a fierce defender of species at risk. Gwen laboured for years
to push the case for standalone endangered species legislation for
British Columbia. She was instrumental in convincing the BC government
to set aside tens of thousands of hectares of land for the protection
of the northern spotted owl – one of Canada’s most endangered species.
She continued to call for an even greater amount of protected forest
habitat, not just for the spotted owl but for other species at risk
including BC’s southern mountain caribou, marbled murrelet and goshawk.
“Gwen was a fearless defender of the public good and that was reflected
in the environmental policies she advocated for,” said Foy.
Gwen fought for the establishment and protection of provincial and
national parks. She helped stop government plans to put large private
resorts in provincial parks. She was a ferocious defender of wild
rivers since the mid-2000s against the government's policy of giving
them away for private power projects. She helped mobilize thousands of
BC residents to protect the Upper Pitt Watershed, Bute Inlet rivers and
Glacier and Howser Creeks from industrial power projects.
What distinguished Gwen as an environmental advocate was her research
ability and her commitment to enhancing government accountability,
upholding the right for British Columbians to scrutinize government
activities and promoting transparent, fair and inclusive decision-making
through filing freedom of information (FOI) requests.
She worked hard to create unique alliances of people and facilitate a
common vision for coming together on an environmental issues – whether
working with union leaders, park rangers, First Nations communities,
beekeepers or kayakers, she was committed to working with people who
loved BC’s spectacular wilderness and wildlife.
“Gwen shaped the place that we live in today. She was born and raised
here, surrounded by nature in the South Okanagan-Similkameen, her
father was an NDP MLA so she was raised around politics,” said Foy.
“She believed we as British Columbians had the right – and the
responsibility – to stand up for this place and say what was needed.
And she did just that.”
The Wilderness Committee will announce a celebration of Gwen’s life and