Bobbi Rose Koe named as the recipient of prestigious 2021 Canadian River Heritage Award
WHITEHORSE, YT – From coast to coast to coast, Canadian Heritage Rivers offer visitors a chance to experience great waterways, learn about our shared history, and share in the stewardship of these incredible places. The Canadian Heritage Rivers System helps recognize and conserve these outstanding rivers that are an enduring part of our national heritage and identity.
Today, the Canadian Heritage Rivers System and the Canadian Canoe Museum are pleased to announce Bobbi Rose Koe as the recipient of the 2021 Canadian River Heritage Award. The award was presented at a joint Canadian Heritage Rivers and Canadian Canoe Museum event in Whitehorse on December 6, 2021.
Presented every two years, the Canadian River Heritage Award recognizes the invaluable efforts of an individual Canadian to celebrate, protect and conserve river heritage for future generations. Bobbi Rose Koe was recognized for her dedication to the preservation and promotion of Teetl’it Gwich’in traditional ties to the Peel River watershed and for her tireless and exemplary work as an organizer, community member, and advocate for youth engagement in river conservation and connection.
Bobbi Rose Koe is a shining example of what can be achieved to preserve and protect rivers and watersheds through collaboration and advocacy. The Canadian Heritage Rivers System and Canadian Canoe Museum are pleased to recognize her many years of exemplary leadership and important work.
The Canadian Heritage Rivers System is pleased to collaborate with the Canadian Canoe Museum to profile this prestigious award in a fitting way and place – by housing it in the Canadian Canoe Museum and working together to promote and honour those nominated for their contributions to Canada’s river heritage.
The 40 rivers which are part of the Canadian Heritage Rivers System play a crucial role in the fabric of Canada. These rivers are integral to Indigenous peoples, who have lived here since time immemorial. Their rich ecosystems serve as a living celebration of our incredible shared history, and they continue to play important roles for culture, recreation, and tourism.
- First presented in 1994 as the Bill Mason National River Conservation Award, the Canadian River Heritage Award honours an individual who has significantly contributed to river heritage in Canada on a scale large enough to be considered as a lifetime achievement.
- The Canadian Heritage Rivers System is Canada’s national river conservation program. Established in 1984, the CHRS gives national recognition to Canada’s outstanding rivers and encourages their long-term management to conserve their natural, cultural and recreational values for the benefit and enjoyment of Canadians, now and in the future. There are currently 40 Canadian Heritage Rivers, totalling over 10,000 km, across the country.
- Parks Canada represents the Government of Canada on the Canadian Heritage Rivers Board and provides secretariat services, policy guidance, and financial support for the designation and commemoration of Canadian Heritage Rivers. Parks Canada is also responsible for the national and international promotion of the program.
- On behalf of the citizens of our country, the Canadian Canoe Museum stewards the world’s largest and most significant collection of canoes, kayaks and paddled watercraft. These craft, more than 600 in number, and their stories of national and international significance, have a pivotal role to play in our collective future.
Biography – Bobbi Rose Koe
Bobbi Rose Koe is Teetl’it Gwich’in (meaning People of the headwaters). Born in Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories, Bobbi Rose was raised by her grandparents (Rosemary Koe, Abraham Koe, Dorothy Alexie and Robert Alexie Sr.) and her community. She now resides on the land and home of the Kwanlin Dun and Ta’an Kwäch’än Territory in Whitehorse, Yukon.
In the patterns established from the day she was born, Bobbi Rose has travelled her traditional lands in all seasons, adding her voice to campaigns to preserve and protect rivers and watersheds.
Bobbi Rose Koe began her formal leadership training at 15 when she joined the 2007 Students on Ice Arctic Expedition.
On a youth leadership trip on the Peel River in 2015, sponsored by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, she teamed up with fellow participants and created the Youth of the Peel. Youth of the Peel helped to increase youth involvement in the Protect the Peel campaign.
The Protect the Peel campaign was instrumental in the successful Supreme Court appeal that ruled in favour of the Yukon First Nations to protect the Peel watershed and respect the land use planning process.
The cultural and environmental action and advocacy that grew out of the Youth of the Peel led to other connections, including the formation of the Western Arctic Youth Collective in 2020. This collective won the 2021 Youth Arctic Inspiration Prize of $97,000 to continue programs dedicated to mental wellness and community empowerment.
In 2020, the Students on Ice Foundation presented Bobbi Rose with their Alumni Inspiration Award.
Continuing to push herself and to lead by example, in May 2021, Bobbi Rose launched her own outfitting company called Dinjii Zhuh (www.dinjiizhuh.com), powered by her own passion and partnerships with the respect, love and permission of her elders. This work allows her to guide Gwich’in youth on river trips to teach cultural connections and foster river advocates. This work also connects people to the rivers and waterways in Yukon with Indigenous-led trips for youth, community, and visitors.
For further information: Contacts: Mike Etches, Canadian Heritage Rivers System, 867-332-4591, [email protected]; James Raffan, Canadian Canoe Museum, 613-540-4319, [email protected]