PERRY, Maine — The Natural Resources Council of Maine has selected Vera Francis of Perry as the winner of its 2010 People’s Choice Award “for her work protecting Passamaquoddy Bay.”
NRCM indicated in a press release announcing the award that the People’s Choice is one of the organization’s environmental awards, which it gives each year to “an individual or group whose actions have made a real difference at the local, regional or state level in the protection of Maine’s environment.”
Francis was nominated for her efforts to keep a liquefied natural gas company out of Sipayik, or Pleasant Point, according to the release. Of several dozen people nominated for the award, NRCM officials said Francis rose quickly to the top as one of three finalists.
A lifelong resident of Sipayik and a member of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, Francis has worked for many years to keep LNG out of the region, which has tremendous cultural and spiritual significance to the Passamaquoddy people, according to NRCM. The Passamaquoddy gather there to pray and partake of ceremonial traditions that go back centuries, the release said.
As part of her effort, Francis established the nonprofit group N’tutlankeyutmonen N’kihtaqmikon, which means, “We are taking care of our land” in the Passamaquoddy language.
“Her skills as an educator have certainly helped Vera communicate about the heart of the issue,” NRCM Executive Director Brownie Carson said in the release. “But it is no doubt her passion and deep understanding of what’s at stake that people respond to. She is a strong and compelling advocate for this cause.”