Mother Nature shined on Fred Henne Territorial Park and Ecology North on Sunday, as the storied eco-advocacy group marked its 50th anniversary with a commemorative picnic.

Individuals and families turned out in droves on a sunny afternoon to snack on hotdogs, bet on a silent auction and enjoy some live music courtesy of the Aurora Fiddle Society, Miranda Currie and Ryan McCord, all to celebrate 50 years of local environmental advocacy.

“We’re really pleased, it’s a beautiful day,” said Dawn Tremblay, Ecology North’s executive director. “And it was really nice to see everyone come out and enjoy and celebrate with us.”

Despite the changing times and fluctuating priorities of current issues, Tremblay said Ecology North has stayed consistent in its mission of educating the public and holding leadership accountable on environmental issues.

“The land doesn’t have someone to speak for them, so the more voices that are around to promote a healthy environment, the more likely that’ll be,” she said.

Ecology North’s first campaign, the one that prompted volunteers to form the group in 1971, was related to arsenic, which was then a lesser-known contaminated byproduct of gold production at Giant Mine.

“And so it was (about) bringing some of that scientific research to the public,” said Tremblay.

Having served as executive director for a year and a half, Tremblay said Ecology North will lean into its educational mandate under her direction.

“Our programming is focused on environmental education, and under that banner are topics of climate change, waste reduction, water stewardship, local food production and nature appreciation. A lot falls under that, and I think that’ll carry us through into the future,” she said.

“The significance of having an environmental NGO (non-governmental organization) in the North is still relevant and important when we’re experiencing the triple threat of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. And so, in that regard, the organization is still relevant today.”

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