Friday, February 27, 2009

Celebrating My Friend Pam Today - Nova Scotia's Newest Eco-Hero

This afternoon I left work early, hopped on the bus and headed over to the Public Archives with my friend Patti. We used to work together at Land Registration with Pam Langille, my very dear friend who passed away last July. An email from Pam's sister Barb let me know about an award ceremony she knew I wouldn't want to miss.

Today Pam was posthumously awarded the first ever Langille Honour in the Woods Award. This brand new award was given by the Nova Scotia Environmental Network for her tireless efforts on behalf of the Acadian forest and sustainable logging.

There to watch her daughter Katharine accept the award were about a dozen of Pam's friends, her mother Norma, her sister Barb, her husband Rick, her son Chris and her niece Mary. Pam felt so present to me when her family and other friends walked into the room. Barb brought Pam's picture along for the ceremony, and Pam's beaming smile gazed across the room at all of us, as it would have done if she'd been there herself.

These Eco-Heroes were truly Pam's soul sisters and brothers. The first award was a Lifetime Achievement Award, given to an older man, while the Youth Environmental Leadership Award was given to an energetic and passionate group of high school students who had formed an association called Mind Shift.

The Cole Award for Excellence in Environment and Health was given to a man who has spearheaded a stop-idling-your-car initiative, while the Eco-Hero Environmentalist of the Year was given to another passionate and very humorous woman who works on behalf of renewable energy. The Award for Environmental Political Will was given to the provincial opposition environmental critic, who gave a wonderful speech about how scary his role can be, when he sees what goes on.

And then came Pam's award. Katharine spoke of her mother's Snowflake Theory, where every person's personal snowflake will break a branch if they all collect together. I thought about all the recipients in the room, about how each one had taken what resources they had, focused their passions and took action. And their actions have all made real, lasting changes in our province.

Four years ago, when I made it through the interview that started my employment with the province of Nova Scotia, I was so relieved on a personal level to get a contracted position with a possibility of full-time hire in the future. I went to work at Land Registration, giddy with joy just to be there. It wasn't long before I realized I'd been blessed with a new friend with whom I bonded deeply and immediately.

Every day I arrived at work, Pam greeted me with her mega-watt smile and a delighted "Hi, Julia!" And I had the same smile for her. We laughed our way through the work days, talked passionately during breaks about all sorts of things, sparred sometimes yet always with respect for the others' viewpoint. She was in my corner, and I was in hers.

As I listened to each person's speech today, I saw and heard Pam in the way they moved, in the way they connected to others in the room, the way they burned inside with the desire to stop the damage inflicted upon the air we breathe, the sea that sustains us and the woods that shelter us. Each Eco-Hero that came to the podium shared the same qualities of shining intention, ferocious spirit and single-minded focus that Pam showed me every day.

I'm lucky, very lucky in this life to know many courageous people. Some are artists shedding their blood, sweat and tears. Some celebrate quiet victories every time they make it through the day.

Pam was a dynamo. She spoke passionately and intelligently. She gathered facts. She showed up to question things and demand answers. She sought out alternatives and provided ways to implement them. Pam was an Eco-Hero, and I'm so happy to see the Langille Honour in the Woods Award launched into the world today in her memory.


Heather D said...

Please know that you and what you have shared of your friend Pam will cross my mind every time I set foot into the woods of our beautiful Province.

Travis Cody said...

She sounds like an amazing person. And although you only knew her for a short time, you did get to know her. That's a gift.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Awesome. I wish to be great like that one day.

M. said...

Awesome. Now I'd like to see the Acadian Woods even more.

Anonymous said...

i read your poem "For Helen He Would Do It" and the previous one too .. and also the next .. loved all of them.. why have you disabled the comments on your page ??

and thanks for visiting my blog !!

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Pretty Me - thanks so much for checking out my poems through my sidebar link. I disabled the comments for those because I'm using that section as archives only.

M - the Acadian forest is the original woodland trees native to eastern Canada, and I believe the northeast part of the United States. Anytime you're in the woods on the east coast, you're in the Acadian forest.

Akelamalu said...

You have such lovely memories of your friend and what a wonderful award to remember her by.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful tribute to your friend; she sounds like an amazing woman with a real passion!

Unknown said...

Pam and I go back 40+ years, we went on a few dates together in high school and went camping with her brother Richard around the Cabot Trail in 1974? I was stunned to find her in the obituaries. She was so full of life, that is what made her so lovable. She was one of the friends in my life that I longed to reconnect with. Her passing is a great loss, not only to me but all who knew her.