2018 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient:
Kevin O'Reilly (BES 1981, Man-Environment | MA 1984, Regional Plan and Resource Dev) is a Member of the Legislative Assembly for Frame Lake, NWT Legislative Assembly in Yellowknife. With more than two decades of environmental and social justice advocacy, he a national expert on abandoned mines, the perpetual care of contaminated sites, and independent environmental monitoring and oversight boards.
As cofounder of the socio-economic and environmental justice organization Alternatives North, O’Reilly was an Intervener on Mackenzie Gas Project and the Giant Mine, an abandoned gold mine that had left hundreds of thousands of tonnes of insecurely stored arsenic trioxide in close proximity to the city of Yellowknife and its water source. His many years of work resulted in a thorough environmental review of the clean-up plan, the conception, development and long-term funding of a formalized agreement between government and public partners, and implementation of a public interest oversight board. For these efforts, O’Reilly received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 for service on environmental issues.
O’Reilly also served as Executive Director of the Independent Environmental Monitoring Agency where he oversaw the closure of the Ekati diamond mine and was instrumental in creating an environmental review process while promoting and ensuring the participation of both professional scientists and indigenous communities.
Under O’Reilly’s leadership, IEMA became known both nationally and internationally for its excellent work promoting effective environmental management and providing a definitive example of responsible resource management bringing critical oversight, public involvement and transparency to ensure environmental protection of the commons.