Kat Hartwig, striving to inspire

Photo: Kat Hartwig, 2023 Mitchell Award of Distinction designate

Kat Hartwig of Brisco, BC inspires those she leads through an unwavering commitment to freshwater protection. As the founder of Living Lakes Canada, and its Executive Director for two decades, Kat recognizes that global water challenges caused by climate change need to be addressed locally. She’s played an instrumental role in many large-scale, environmental conservation initiatives including the Jumbo Wild campaign and the Columbia Wetlands.  

Her work has positive effects locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. And because of her exceptional commitment to elevating her community while empowering those she leads, Kat received the 2023 Mitchell Award of Distinction designation. Kat delivered the awardee address on behalf of her cohort of 20 awardees at the 2023 Community award ceremony at Government House in Victoria. With Her Honour, the Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of BC presiding over the ceremony, along with the BC Achievement board of directors, friends, family and colleagues the 2023 awardees were honoured and celebrated for their efforts in building stronger and more engaged communities.  

The 2023 Mitchell awardee shared what inspires her work, feeds her passion and gets her up in the morning. 

“It is a distinct privilege to speak on behalf of my fellow award recipients whose stories and achievements are both uplifting and inspiring. It has been heartwarming to learn about the commitment, kindness, and vision embodied in the work of the award recipients.   

It can feel as though this remarkable work is eclipsed by the seemingly insurmountable challenges facing society today — so celebrating our successes through the BC Achievement Community Award helps to bolster our fortitude to carry on. 

My parents emigrated to this country after World War II and I grew up on our family ranch near Invermere where my bond with nature was firmly established.   

I have been privileged enough to find a path of work in environmental and water stewardship. This work has been deeply rewarding despite the overwhelming sense of urgency to address the climate and the biodiversity crises we have put ourselves into.   

Fortunately, we also find ourselves in a long overdue era of applied reconciliation, where we have been given another chance to heal relationships with the original people of this land. Perhaps through this process we will learn how to cultivate more respectful relationships with the land and water that we ultimately all depend on. 

So, in service to our communities and by mentoring applied optimism for our young people, we may rejoice in the collective action we all strive to inspire.   

Today we celebrate work that addresses inclusion, accessibility, equity, health, creativity, for the most vulnerable in our province.  From Masset to Salmo, from Victoria to Lillooet, from Surrey, Richmond, Delta, Vancouver, Burnaby, Bowen Island to Ashcroft and Brisco.  

To quote Tao Yuanming, a Chinese poet born over 1600 years ago: ‘Though I am different from you, we were born involved in one another, not by any means can we escape the intimate sharing of good and ill’. The BC Achievement Community Award program provides the space and the platform for us to gather to share and celebrate the good with our families and friends and inspire achievement.” 

Congratulations once again to each of the 2023 Community Award recipients. You can watch the celebration of the 2023 awardees at this link. If you know someone who deserves recognition for their commitment to their community, nominate them starting December 1, 2023 at bcachievement.com 

BC Achievement: Elevate Excellence. Share Success. Inspire Change.

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