By Julia Magsombol 

Local Journalism Initiative 

[email protected]

Indigenous educator Bonnie Harvey has received the Columbia Basin Environmental Education Network (CBEEN) 2023 Award of Excellence for environmental education. 

“A real focus in the last five years was to share what I know and give it back to the universe — to pay back for all that I’ve learned and to share with others,” Harvey said passionately.

She is from the Aq’am community, and for the last 15 years, she has been sharing knowledge on cross-cultural presentations, legends, and land connections. 

Harvey is very passionate about what she’s doing.

“Transferring knowledge is so important to share what I’ve learned with others. And so, that sense of responsibility has been real.” Harvey said with a smile. 

From October 19-21, CBEEN gathered local educators for the 2023 ‘Inquiring Voices’ professional development day for teachers, and Harvey received her award that day. 

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“I was honoured that somebody took the time to write a beautiful nomination. I just really appreciate the time and effort, the love and care that went into acknowledging my work,” Harvey shared. 

She described the event as a “beautiful place,” and besides the excellent weather and successful event, she feels honoured to be with fellow educators who share her passion, goals, and focus. 

“And then my turn came [to present], I was just a barrel of emotions. I was very emotional, and I cried. I wanted to acknowledge everybody in the room. They do this hard work of giving. They are investing their time. And so, I wanted to honour them. It was a beautiful evening — then to hear my beautiful nominee’s words from my beautiful nomination.” 

Harvey received the award along with other educators, such as Alfred Joseph from ?Akisq’nuk. He is a respected elder who is fluent in the Ktunaxa language and also teaches the language. 

“And just to be acknowledged in the same cohort as Alfred Joseph made me feel so honoured and so proud.”

After Harvey shared her experiences in the camp, the Pioneer asked about her favourite journey as an educator. 

“When I’m sharing the legend and being able to bring the people on a journey with me . . . being able to pull them into the story and that they believe, just to see that magic and to be able to share that. There’s magic. I love that.”

Harvey hopes to continue to raise awareness and share wonderful stories in her community. She also hopes to support CBEEN and build their internal education networks. 

“I appreciate the effort that my elders have shared with me to help make me a better person. I commit that I will, in turn, share that with others. And I hope that I will have a positive impact on others as much as my beautiful elders have had a positive impact on me,” she said.