Congratulations to RRC student Tannis CochraneCook (Computer Applications for Business, Peguis-Fisher River Campus), whose efforts to set up a recycling program at Peguis First Nation have earned her a 2012 Spirit of the Earth Award from Manitoba Hydro.
CochraneCook first began advocating for environmentally-safe waste disposal practices while volunteering at the Peguis Landfill site in 2009. (Her motivation was simple: The landfill was located next to her home, and owners were burning materials rather than recycling them.)
She’s since launched a community-wide recycling program at Peguis, for which now serves as Project Coordinator. In just two years, the program has proven so popular that an estimated 25% of businesses and residents on the reserve now recycle on a regular basis.
CochraneCook has also found a way to link her community efforts with her classroom work. She completed her practicum requirements for the Computer Applications program while working for the landfill, during which time she organized volunteer clean-ups, distributed recycling bins throughout the community, collected recyclables at community events, and co-produced a proposal related to the landfill site.
“(Tannis) is a role model for her people in promoting environmental awareness and change,” said Peguis-Fisher River staffer Daphne Flett, who nominated CochraneCook for the award.
“Her belief is that she has been given the mission of leaving behind a clean, safe and healthy environment — land, air and water — for her children, grandchildren and generations to come. Her passion in devoting herself to this mission, despite obstacles and challenges, is a lesson for all of us in what can be accomplished when we take a small seed of knowledge and belief, plant it in our area of influence, and then watch it grow into something strong and beautiful.”