It was with great pleasure that the United Nations Association of Canada – Vancouver presented Saskia Vaisey with the 2013 John Gibbard Memorial Award today, Sunday November 3rd, at the Vancouver Unitarian Church.
Saskia Vaisey, a first year university student earned the award for her work in promoting environmental awareness on a local and global level. Amongst her many accomplishments was completing an endurance marathon in Botswana while raising awareness of water shortages in developing countries. This past summer, Saskia also cycled 1700 km to Inuvik in order to raise awareness about climate change and promote connections between youth in the North and South of Canada.
In her acceptance speech, Saskia spoke about the need for all of us to take risks in order to make the world a better place. She gave detailed examples of how each of the challenges she has undertaken started out seeming impossible, but were indeed possible with devotion and determination. It was a fine parallel for the immense challenges faced by the United Nations in 2013 and her speech was a beacon of hope for the future. Reverend Steven Epperson picked up on Saskia’s theme and spoke about the need for Canada to use the United Nations as a forum to make a positive difference in the world.
John Gibbard was a member of the Unitarian congregation, and a long-time devotee to promoting the ideals of the United Nations. The John Gibbard Memorial Award is given annually to a young student or group of young people from the Lower Mainland who demonstrate dedication and commitment in working for a better world.
It is with great pleasure that the United Nations Association in Canada – Vancouver Branch announces the recipient of this year’s John Gibbard Award, Saskia Vaisey. Saskia is a first year university student at the University of British Columbia whose dedication to promoting awareness of environmental issues both locally and globally is inspiring.
This past summer, Saskia biked 1,700 km from Vancouver to Inuvik with three students to raise awareness about the impact of climate change in the Arctic. The group held workshops along the way and reached out to youth from summer camps, community centers, and youth centers. Through blogs, articles and social media, Saskia worked to make North-South connections between youth, inspiring them to think critically about environmental and social issues.
Saskia was also one of eight fully sponsored North American Youth Ambassadors for i2P’s Botswana Expedition. In Botswana, she ran a 182-km ultra-marathon in four days to raise awareness about the impact of water shortages in developing nations & about defying personal limits. Saskia’s own story attests to the importance of defying personal limits as she went from battling Lupus five years ago to an ultra-marathoner today.
The selection committee was also impressed with Saskia’s work locally. She has continued to present to classrooms and speak at community events on issues that she is passionate about. She also volunteers with the Canadian Parks Society, the Mossom Creek Hatchery and the Catching the Spirit Sociey.
2013 is the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation. Saskia’s work in promoting discussion around climate change and water shortages highlights the fact that youth are actively involved in attempting to fulfill the ideals of the United Nations and making the world a better place. The John Gibbard Memorial Award is named after a man who was dedicated to involving youth in the creation of a better world for all. Saskia Vaisey embodies the ideals of Mr. Gibbard and the UNAC-Vancouver branch is pleased to recognize her inspiring work.
Today we salute Saskia and all the other young people who inspire us to try to make the world a better place.
The John Gibbard Memorial Award will be presented at the Vancouver Unitarian Church, at 11:00 AM on Sunday, November 3rd. The Church is located at 949 West 49th Avenue, at 49th and Oak Street in Vancouver and all are welcome.