Mark Warawa passed away on June 20 after a battle with cancer. A celebration of life was held for him on Friday, July 5 at the Christian Life Assembly Church in Langley. (Langley Advance Times files)

VIDEO – GREEN BEAT: Warawa himself was an environmental hero

A tribute to the man: a late Member of Parliament, who created special awards, was deserving himself

By David Clements/Special to the Langley Advance Times

The annual environmental hero awards that MP Mark Warawa for Langley-Aldergrove began in 2006 have been a unique way to showcase efforts by Langley residents on behalf of the environment.

Most recipients of the award, organized by Warawa’s office in partnership with Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS) over the years, could be referred to as “unsung” heroes because without the recognition the award brought, these local heroes would be largely unknown to the public.

With Warawa’s passing on June 20, after a short battle with cancer, the Langley Advance Times conducted a poll to ask whether residents felt the award should be continued as a tribute to Warawa’s long-time commitment.

READ MORE: MP Warawa remembered for kindness, faith, convictions

Not surprisingly, 95 per cent of respondents favoured continuing the award.

So I trust the award will continue to celebrate individuals, youth, and groups that strive to better the environment in Langley.

Mark could be said to have been an unsung environmental hero, himself.

In her moving tribute to Warawa, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May described Mark as doing all kinds of things for the environment on a personal level, including installing solar panels on his home.

Warawa was never a cabinet minister, but as secretary to four different environment ministers from 2006 to 2011, he did much behind the scenes.

I remember highlights of Warawa’s impassioned talk on climate change at TWU in 2007, in which he provided details on how the government had implemented measures to regulate industrial emissions.

In the often politicized debate on climate change, these measures failed to make the headlines then, but nonetheless Warawa was committed to doing something about greenhouse emissions, even if no one was paying attention to his actions.

Last December, I met up with Mark and Ann Blaauw – the benefactor who donated the funding to establish the Blaauw Eco Forest – for a Facebook interview to raise attention to odour, noise, and light pollution issues associated with a proposed cannabis facility nearby.

WATCH THE INTERVIEW WITH ANN BLAAUW

Warawa lobbied for our cause at the highest levels among his federal colleagues.

The grassroots-style advocacy using a “homemade” Facebook video somehow typifies the efforts of this hard-working MP who cared about his constituents and cared about the Langley environment.

As May prayed at the end of her tribute in parliament “God greet one of your wonderful spirits, a soul who has served you well… give him eternal rest but light perpetual shine upon him, and thank you Lord that we came to know him and call him friend.”

Indeed, rest in peace, Mark Warawa, an environmental hero.

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– David Clements PhD, is a professor of biology and environmental studies at Trinity Western University

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