RRC alumni honoured for going green

Tannis CochraneCook wins 2012 Spirit of the Earth Award

A recent Red River College graduate has been awarded a 2012 Spirit of the Earth Award for helping her north- ern community “go green.”

The Spirit of the Earth Award, sponsored by Manitoba Hydro, is given annually to aboriginal citizens in Manitoba who plan or implement environmental initiatives.

Tannis CochraneCook, who studied computer applications at RRC’s Peguis-Fisher River Campus, set up a recycling program on the Peguis First Nation mainly because the landfill by her home was affecting her health.

“They put the dump by my house and all they did was burn the garbage,” said CochraneCook. “All the fumes were going right to my house and they were doing it at night so I couldn’t even sleep. I was going to move but nobody is going to push me out of my place.”

CochraneCook started her program back in 2009 by removing plastic from the landfill and in the three years since she started her work, it has become a community-wide recy- cling program. She works as project coordinator.

“I would drive around and do the pickups myself and I was also going to school full-time. I had to work hard but I want to be able to breathe and for the community’s kids to be able to breathe.”

CochraneCook also had to deal with people in her community that were against the program. But despite even being threatened, CochraneCook stuck to her recycling guns. “People were fighting with me but this is just the way the world is going now. People shouldn’t be resistant of recycling. It’s just part of life and when I know that I’m right, I push and I don’t give up.”

Daphne Flett, a student support counsellor at Red River College, nominated CochraneCook for the award because CochraneCook’s hard work and dedication inspired her, she said.

“Tannis worked hard to communicate the importance of caring for the earth and acting responsibly with re- gards to the way garbage is disposed of,” said Flett. “She does what she does with great passion, conviction and dedication.”

Flett said it was important for her to be at the award ceremony and see CochraneCook honoured by Manitoba Hydro.

“I had the honour of attending the awards ceremony with her and it was such a privilege to be a part of that and to see her recognized along with other Manitobans who are working hard in many different ways to bring about awareness and change. It was inspiring to see.”