If “celebration” hasn’t been high on your list of priorities this year, let us give you a moment to pause and raise a toast: We’re proud to announce RE Sources’ 2021 Environmental Heroes.
What is an Environmental Hero? Every year we carefully consider individuals in the Central Salish Sea region who have accomplished inspiring feats that protect the lands and waters we all depend on. These are folks who make us want to step up our game, who inspire us to keep at this work and whose dedication ensures a better future for our communities.
This year, we’re proud to recognize Darrell Hillaire, Mary Ruth Holder and London Fletcher as RE Sources’ 2021 Environmental Heroes. Read more about their stunning work below and if you want a chance to (virtually) shake their hands, we hope you’ll join our Heroes at our virtual event and benefit on Wednesday, June 9th from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. You can RSVP here.
Darrell has served as a coach, mentor, teacher, speaker, and leader for the Lummi Nation for more than 30 years. Currently Darrell is Executive Director of Children of the Setting Sun Productions, leading the projects based upon relationships with many elders and community leaders both regionally and nationally.
Darrell has served on many community boards, and on the Lummi Indian Business Council in various capacities, including Chair, for more than 15 years. As Chair, he provided oversight and guided the development of the Northwest Indian College Campus, Silver Reef Casino, and K-12 Lummi Nation School. Darrell went on to work toward strengthening the wellness of tribal youth, as founder of the visionary Lummi Youth Academy.
Darrell has been widely recognized for his impact as a peacemaker, bridge builder, and culture bearer, both as a representative of Lummi Nation, and as a regional and national leader. Over the years Darrell has accepted a great number of requests to speak publicly on behalf of his community, and continues to provide strategic guidance to tribal and other community leaders on key issues of the day such as: salmon recovery, economic development, sovereignty, and tribal governance.
Mary Ruth Holder
Mary Ruth Holder has spent much of her life engaged in protecting the environment around her. She grew up in Louisiana and credits her mother with teaching her respect for the natural world and its creatures.
After getting a law degree at UT Austin, Mary Ruth worked for the Texas Attorney General. Her work included enforcing state air and water quality laws, supporting environmental groups in a case to stop destruction of endangered bird habitat in Texas’ National Forests, and bringing lawsuits to ensure that low-income people living in Rio Grande Valley colonias had safe drinking water. Mary Ruth next worked for the Texas environmental agency as director of its legal division.
After leaving state government, Mary Ruth worked on projects for national and local environmental groups. She served on Austin’s Environmental Board and volunteered in city preserves monitoring endangered birds, salamanders and plants.
When she retired to Skagit Valley, Mary Ruth drew on her background to work as a volunteer, helping protect the Salish Sea, its communities and wildlife. Among other things, she helped mobilize Skagit Valley residents, NGOs, businesses and elected officials to make public comments opposing the proposed Gateway coal export terminal. Similarly, Mary Ruth helped with opposition to dangerous oil-by-rail projects. For five years, she has represented Evergreen Islands advocating for strong safety management regulations to protect workers, nearby communities and the Salish Sea from refinery explosions, fires and toxic air contaminant releases.
London is a 13-year-old who has been an advocate on behalf of the planet for the past 7 years. During this time, she has focused her efforts on one key issue in particular, the ongoing plight of the Southern Resident Killer Whales. She has continued to be a very vocal advocate for the SRKWs over the years by attending rallies and speaking on behalf of the orcas at events all over Washington State.
In 2019 London alongside Dr. Ingrid Visser formed her own non-profit research organization, Aquatic Research Conservancy which is dedicated to education and the protection of marine inhabitants and their habitats. Alongside that, she is also a research assistant at the Orca Research Trust in New Zealand and the youngest member of the society for marine mammalogy.
As a spokesperson for the generation that is going to inherit the choices that policymakers make today, London has made it her mission to do whatever she can to advocate for the Southern Residents and the ecosystem that they call home. Her career has two paths, advocating for the rights and protection of both captive and wild killer whales. Although London is most well known for her compelling speeches she is also very passionate about becoming a researcher. She is already a published author in the field of Marine Biology for the work she did during her internship at the Orca Research Trust during the austral winter of 2017.
Please join us in congratulating our 2021 Environmental Heroes by registering for our FREE virtual celebration on June 9th. In the meantime, take some inspiration from Darrell, Mary Ruth and London, and think about what one small difference you can make today for this region we all call home. Our Upcoming Events page is a good place for ideas on how to get involved. Whether through lawmaking, activism, art, community science, volunteerism, lifestyle changes, voting, or financial support, we can all be Environmental Heroes in our own way.