New Brunswick has lost a fierce defender of our environment with the passing of Beth McLaughlin on Sunday, Feb. 22.
Beth was on the Conservation Council board for years. She worked tirelessly to make people aware of the dangers of nuclear power and she was one of the key organizers who shelved the Jaakko Poyry recommendations which sought to double the annual allowable cut in our forest in the early 2000s.
Beth organized people around the province to ensure they attended the hearings that determined the fate of our forest. She traveled across New Brunswick and summarized what people had to stay at each hearing, comments which were then used to defeat the recommendations. Even when she became ill with cancer, Beth remained committed to protecting New Brunswick’s Acadian forest and to developing proposed legislation for an Environmental Bill of Rights for New Brunswick. Her dedication and service was honoured by the Conservation Council family when she was presented with a Milton F. Gregg award for environmental activism in 2011.
Beth, a retired school teacher, encouraged her students to be active citizens and to write letters to government. Beth earned a Masters of Environmental Studies degree at the Université de Moncton in 2001. Her thesis was on the topic of sustainable communities. Beth wrote a weekly column for the Times & Transcript as well as plays and fiction with environmental themes. She also ran an educational business focused on sustainable communities with Françoise Aubin.
“From a young age, I always seemed to be aware of environmental issues, if perhaps only in a peripheral way. My father loved to fish and he would try to make weekly excursions to our family camp in the northwest New Brunswick woods. We loved the outdoors,” Beth said as she recalled the devastation caused by a spruce budworm outbreak and the widespread spraying of insecticides over New Brunswick’s forest in the 1970s, during an interview for a story that honoured St. Thomas University alumna.
Beth was also a founding board member of Crossroads for Women, a shelter for women and children living with family violence in Moncton.
Deepest condolences to her partner Helene, to our board members who were such good friends of hers, and to all those who were blessed to know her witty humour, tenacity and passion in the many fights that mattered.
Let’s honour Beth’s memory by renewing our commitment to protecting the Acadian forest that she so loved and to building healthy communities in this province.
A celebration of Beth’s life will be held at the Passage Funeral Chapel, 625 Mountain Road, Moncton on Wednesday., Feb. 25 at 2:00pm.
Tracy Glynn is an editor with the NB Media Co-op.