Saskatchewan Environmental Society celebrates 50-year anniversary

One of Saskatchewan's longest running environmental organizations will celebrate 50 years of activism this weekend.

100 people joined to form society in 1970; picnic Sunday will celebrate 50 years

The Saskatchewan Environmental Society is celebrating its 50th anniversary this weekend. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

One of Saskatchewan's longest running environmental organizations will celebrate 50 years of activism this weekend.

In 1970, a group of environmentalists joined together to form what would become the Saskatchewan Environmental Society.

At that point, the environmental movement was brand new, especially on the Prairies.

"In 1970, we had seen a couple of decades of rapid and large scale industrial development, and there wasn't very much in regulation in place to protect air, water, soil and nature generally," said society executive director Allyson Brady.

"Back then, the City of Saskatoon discharged raw sewage right into the river."

Brady said the group started small, gathering newspaper clippings and other resources together to provide people with more information on environmentalism.

Soon, they spread into government lobbying.

"There were very few environmental regulations in place and we had to work to get those in place," she said.

"There was a lot of focus on what individuals can do, things like recycling and turning off lights when not using them and stopping using detergents with a lot of phosphates that contaminate the water."

Now, 50 years later, Brady said she's proud of what the organization has become.

"The province now is required to do environmental impact assessments on big projects. It doesn't always get triggered, but it's the law," she said. 

"The society has worked with tens of thousands of students over the years, helping them to save energy and water in their schools."

Still work to do

Brady said one of the her favourite projects was working with forestry company Mistik Management Ltd. to get the company certified with the Forest Stewardship Council.

"They're focusing on protecting woodland caribou and implementing protected areas and harvesting the forest to best practices," she said. "That was a big highlight for me."

However, despite the group's successes, Brady said there's still a lot of work to do. 

"I remember looking back at the 25th anniversary newsletter and I was a bit disappointed in how we were saying the same things in the early 1970s that we were seeing 25 years later," she said

"We were still talking about the pitfalls and exorbitant costs of nuclear energy and how renewable energy, like solar and wind, was up and coming." 

The Saskatchewan Environment Society is holding a picnic in Rotary Park at noon on Sunday, Aug. 30. Anyone interested in attending is asked to RSVP with the society.