2003 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award
Awardee: Jeannette Armstrong
"Today we human beings face the biggest of obstacles, and so the greatest of challenges to our creativity and responsibility. Let us begin with courage and without limitation, and we will come up with surprising solutions."
Jeannette Armstrong is honored as the recipient of the 2003 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award for her work as a community leader, educator and indigenous rights activist. She is a member of the Okanagan Nation and currently resides in Penticton, British Columbia, Canada. Armstrong plans to use the fellowship to restore the land surrounding the En'owkin Centre through the replanting of native and traditional medicine plants.
Armstrong currently serves as Executive Director of the En'owkin Centre, located in the Penticton Reserve. This indigenous cultural, educational, ecological and creative arts post-secondary institution practices and implements indigenous knowledge and systems. The school is affiliated with the University of Victoria.
Armstrong also serves as consultant to the Center for Ecoliteracy in Berkley, California. This foundation fosters education that leads to sustainable patterns of living. She has served as a consultant to other environmental and social change organizations including the Esalen Institute, Omega Institute, Center for Creative Change and World Institute for Humanities at Salado.
As an indigenous rights activist, Armstrong serves as an international observer to the Continental Coordinating Commission of Indigenous Peoples and Organizations. She was also appointed one of seven Indigenous Judges to the First Nations Court of Justice called by the Chiefs of Ontario and to the Council of Listeners in the International Testimonials on Violations of Indigenous Sovereignty for the United Nations.
Armstrong has served on various international councils and working groups on a wide variety of issues. She has addressed conferences and assemblies at universities in Japan, Moscow, Switzerland, Germany, New Zealand as well as the USA and Canada. Armstrong is also currently serving on the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and recently served as a representative to the Third World Water Forum in Kyoto, Japan.
She is also a visual artist and author of a number of books, scripts and a collection of poetry. Armstrong's books include Slash, Native Creative Process, Breathtracks and Whispering in Shadows. She has also published numerous articles on the impacts of globalization. Her work includes a local storytelling TV mini-series and a Vision TV talk show, Arts Express.
Armstrong received a Bachelors of Fine Arts from the University of Victoria in 1978 and recently received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from St. Thomas University, Fredericton. She is a fluent speaker of the Okanagan language and has studied traditional teachings for many years under the direction of the Okanagan elders.