The Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition was founded in 2004 by a diverse group of people living and working in the Skeena River watershed. Our board of directors and membership reflects the broad interests of the people in this region. We are united in understanding that short term industrial development plans, even 50 year plans, will not benefit our region in the long run if they undermine the social and environmental fabric that holds the watershed and its communities together. Our range of activities all reflect this vision. They include:
- Informing our membership on proposed development plans that may compromise our vision of a sustainable regional economy.
- Working to develop long-term stewardship plans for the Skeena Watershed
- Organizing information meetings between regional/provincial governments, corporate developers and local communities
- Contributing to baseline research of wildlife, water quality, and cultural heritage resources in the Upper Skeena Watershed
- Developing sustainable employment opportunities that are compatible with the globally significant values of the region
- Providing educational programs for the region’s children and youth (school programs and a summer conservation camp) to learn about the values within the Skeena watershed
- Sponsoring gatherings for stories, music, and art celebrating the Skeena Watershed
- Investing in research and development for local projects that offer positive community economic development potential in line with our organizational values
OUR MISSION STATEMENT:
“Cultivating a sustainable future from a sustainable environment rooted in our culture and thriving wild salmon ecosystem.”
The Skeena Watershed
The Skeena Watershed (54,234km2) can be described as the Skeena River and all the tributaries that feed into it as well as the landmass they drain. This is an accurate description and understanding how a watershed works is critical to understanding how fragile it is.
We boast all 5 species of wild salmon, the largest strain of wild steelhead in the world, moose, grizzly, black bear, spirit bear, caribou, wolverine, wolves, mountain goat, stone sheep and many other iconic wildlife in healthy, robust populations.
The Skeena Watershed is home to the traditional territories of many First Nations people and settler descendants who live with each other and share very similar values although we don’t always agree. The one thing we agree on is that we love where we live and are willing to stand up for our future generations.
How We Work
work in a sense of place and trust in each other.
The Skeena’s Journey
It begins its journey in the Sacred Headwaters, an alpine basin in northern BC adjacent to Spatsizi Wilderness Park, where the Nass and Stikine Rivers also find their birthplace. From the Sacred Headwaters, the Skeena flows southeast, between the shallow peaks of the Skeena Mountains. It continues past the Slamgeesh Range, then westward to Fourth Cabin where it turns south. After Kuldo it turns eastward, then flows again south below Cutoff Mountain and Mount Pope. It continues past the communities of Kispiox and Hazelton, where it receives the waters of Bulkley River, then turns southwest. At Kitseguecla, the river is crossed by Highway 37, and then turns south around the Seven Sisters Peaks and Bulkley Ranges, then between the Nass Ranges and Borden Glacier, past the ferry crossing at Usk, through the Kitselas Canyon, and then through the Kleanza Creek Provincial Park. It then flows south-west through the city of Terrace, where the river widens. It continues westwards, passes near the Exchamsiks River Provincial Park, and finally flows into the Pacific Ocean at Eleanor Passage, between Port Edward and Port Essington.
All five species of wild Pacific salmon live in the Skeena system, supporting Canada’s second largest wild salmon fishery next to that of the Fraser. A 2005 study by IBM Business Consulting found that Skeena salmon contribute some $110 million to the region’s annual economy. In addition to a commercial ocean fishery at the Skeena’s mouth, the watershed supports an internationally renowned sport angling industry that draws people from around the world to the region each year. Salmon are also the foundation of the watershed’s First Nations cultures, and traditional food fisheries continue today as they have for millenia, at fishing sites up and down the length of the Skeena.
Our Board of Directors
Todd Stockner moved to the Kispiox Valley from New Westminster in 1994 with his young family. An angling guide in the Skeena watershed since 1982, he now operates his own angling guide business on the Kispiox and Skeena rivers. In the off season he makes his living as a fine woodworker, working out of the workshop on his hobby farm.
He received training in fine woodworking at the College of the Redwoods Fine Woodworking Program in Fort Bragg, California in 1989/90. As well as being a director of SWCC, Todd also sits on the executive steering committee of Friends of Wild Salmon, is an active member of the North Coast Steelhead Alliance, as well as a member of Western Canada Wilderness Committee.
When not taking up time with all of the above, you can find him playing hockey on the pond in front of his house with friends and family during the winter; listening to and watching the amazing bird life all around us in the spring; cutting firewood, mowing the lawn, and floating the rivers in the summer; and – when not guiding – he can be found on some remote and beautiful part of our rivers fly fishing for steelhead every fall. Email Todd.
Gene’s family has 5 generations in the watershed and currently makes his living as a wilderness resort operator, rodeo stock contractor and maintains an active trapline. Gene worked as a logger and guide outfitter for most of his life and lives on his horse ranch in the Kispiox Valley. He is a leading member of the Kispiox Watershed Monitoring Committee and the Skeena Quality Waters Initiative, both of which are government recognized programs to ensure that sustainable development occurs on the land. Gene was also a leading campaigner against the clear cutting of the headwaters of the Kispiox River and was successful in creating the Swan Lake Wilderness Area, preventing such development from proceeding. Gene has been a director of the SWCC since its inception in 2004.
Wade Davis holds degrees in anthropology and biology and received his Ph.D. in ethnobotany from Harvard University. A native of British Columbia, Dr. Davis has worked as a park ranger, forestry engineer, logger, big game hunting guide and conducted ethnographic fieldwork among several indigenous societies of northern Canada. He has published some fifty scientific articles on subjects ranging from Haitian vodoun to the global biodiversity crisis. His magazine articles have appeared in Newsweek, Premiere, Outside, Omni, Harpers and several other international publications. He has lectured at the American Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, California Academy of Sciences, Missouri Botanical Garden, Field Museum of Natural History, New York Botanical Garden, National Geographic Society, America’s Society, Royal Ontario Museum, Royal British Columbia Museum, the Explorer’s Club as well as more than fifty major universities including Harvard, Yale, Tulane, Vanderbilt, M.I.T., University of North Carolina, UCLA, University of Pennsylvania, University of Colorado and University of Wisconsin. His photographs have been widely published and exhibited at several galleries including the International Center of Photography (I.C.P.) in New York.
Presently a Research Associate of the Instituto Caribe de Antropologia y Sociologia in Caracas, Venezuela, he is an Honorary Research Associate of the Institute of Economic Botany of the New York Botanical Garden, a Collaborator in Botany at the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biology at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, Research Associate of the Department of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, a Fellow of the Linnean Society and the Executive Director of the Endangered People’s Project.
Harriet and her partner finally relocated from Sepwepmec territory to Spookw, in the Laxwilp, after years of exploring the northwest. They have a small restorative agricultural enterprise that revolves around raising sheep, berries and bees while encouraging local birds and wildlife. Professionally, she practices as a Registered Massage Therapist with an interest in helping people achieve optimum function. She is a director of the Hazelton Farmers Market Society and is a member of the Food to School Learning Circle. Harriet’s roots are rural and she is keenly aware of the importance of protecting, maintaining and restoring natural ecosystems. At the same time, she understands the importance of developing sustainable economic enterprises to support the human members of the community. From Amchitka Island, the Stein Valley, Site C and various local community initiatives, she has worked, over the years, to draw attention to issues, educate folks and protect the environment. For relaxation and joy, Harriet runs, hikes, swims, bikes and paddles in our beautiful mountains, lakes and rivers.
Cathy lives on the banks of the mighty Skeena River, in awe of the beauty and bounty that is at her fingertips. Cathy was raised in the Hazeltons’ and chose to make Hazelton her home where she and her husband raised 2 boys. Cathy works by day at the local Credit Union and in her free time enjoys the beauty of her surroundings. From hiking local trails and kayaking the Skeena River and lakes, surrounding her home, to fishing out of Prince Rupert for fresh fish to carry them through the winter. Cathy, and her husband Paul, own and operate a value-added birch sawmill that focuses on utilization of all the products and byproducts of the operation. They only take what they can use by selectively harvesting timber. Cathy takes an active roll in the operation by rolling up her sleeves and tossing around a board or two. Cathy first became involved with SWCC while participating in the Women On Water program. During the 5 day program, she was introduced to how important the watershed is and how SWCC is working to protect this very sensitive and unique area. This was further enforced during a weekend trip to the headwaters of the Skeena on a family vacation. “There is no other place on Earth quite like our back yard and we need to protect it.”
Canadian artist Roy Henry Vickers is an accomplished carver, design advisor of prestigious public spaces, a sought-after keynote speaker, and publisher and author of several successful books. In addition, he is a recognized leader in the First Nations community, and a tireless spokesperson for recovery from addictions and abuse. Roy has received many awards and honours for his art and community involvement. Among them are a hereditary chieftainship and several hereditary names he has received from Northwest Coast First Nations. He is a recipient of the Order of Canada.
In 1994, Maclean’s magazine included Roy as the first artist ever in its Annual Honour Roll of Extraordinary Canadian Achievers. In 1998, the Province of British Columbia appointed Roy to the prestigious Order of B.C. and in 2003, Roy received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal. In 2003, a video featuring Roy was part of the successful Vancouver 2010 Olympic Bid. In 1987, at the Commonwealth Summit in Vancouver, the original of Roy’s painting A Meeting of Chiefs was the official gift of the Province of British Columbia to Queen Elizabeth II. Limited edition prints of the painting were presented to the 48 Commonwealth Heads of State. During their Vancouver Summit in 1993, former Soviet leader Boris Yeltsin and former U.S. president Bill Clinton received artist’s proofs of Roy’s print The Homecoming as the Province’s official gift.
Roy’s father was a fisherman with the blood of three northwest coast First Nations – Tsimshian, Haida and Heiltsuk – flowing in his veins. Roy’s mother was a schoolteacher whose parents had immigrated to Canada from England.
Brad was born and raised locally, in Gitanmaax (located near Old Hazelton). He is from the Fireweed Clan and his Gitxsan name is Aks Xsin Tzihl. Translated, his name means “when the river meets the ocean, a whirlpool is created and can spin upriver up to 1km.” Simple translation “Water Tornado.” He comes from a large family : his grandparents had eleven kids : 10 girls and 1 boy. He went to school in Kamloops and returned home as a Red Seal Certified Chef. Growing up, Brad spent a lot of time on his family’s traditional territory – trapping with his grandfather, attending family gatherings, etc. and this taught him that land has a value to one’s soul. It’s important to protect it. “There seems to be a $ value on everything these days. But, sometimes, there’s a larger value than just money.” Brad views his position on our Board of Directors as an oppotunity to have a voice and to connect regarding territorial management.
Shannon lives and works in the watershed and grew up on a working ranch, spending much of her youth fishing and hunting in the Skeena mountains with her family. She has worked as a white-water rafting guide, a big game hunting guide, a welder and a nutritionist at a women’s health center after her education in the field of chemical technology. Shannon’s diverse background allows her to understand and relate to people within the watershed that have a variety of opinions and concerns. It is important to Shannon that all voices are heard when decisions are being made regarding the future of this unique place. Her commitment is so strong that she spent 7 years working for the SWCC as a volunteer. Shannon is a mother of two. While motherhood certainly keeps her busy, it hasn’t slowed her down or prevented her from working to keep our Sacred Headwaters free of coalbed methane and our Skeena River wild. Email Shannon.
Brian is one of the founding members of SWCC. He has been chasing trail, building cabins, writing reports, running rivers and taking photographs in just about every corner of the Skeena watershed ever since. In 2007, Brian was adopted into the Gitxsan house group of Wilp Gwininitxw as a result of his meaningful work and commitment to the lands and resources on Gwininitxw territory in the upper Skeena. His focus at SWCC is to achieve permanent protection for the Skeena’s key ecosystems, support transformative experiences on the land and water for residents of the Skeena and develop decision making power for Skeena communities with respect to the integrity of our unique environment and culture. Brian is also one of the Youth on Water trip leaders and supports all aspects of running a safe, well organized and kick-ass program for the watershed’s next generation of talented river guides. Email Brian.
Kathy grew up in West Vancouver, and ended up in the north by marrying Todd and following him and his passion for the northern rivers. It only took 24 hours for Kathy to feel that it was the right move (while Todd took less than a minute). Now, she absolutely loves her rural home and close-knit community, and would never want to live in the city again. They have a small acreage in the Kispiox Valley, where they run a small steelhead guiding operation in the fall. During the summer, the lovely guesthouse that Todd built is used as a bed & breakfast for visitors from all over the world. The Kispiox Valley has been a wonderful place to raise their two kids, now off on their own adventures. Kathy has worked mainly as a typesetter for print shops, newspapers and book publishers over the years, and is now the office administrator for the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition. Email Kathy.
Energy Coordinator - Skeena Energy Solutions
Kesia moved to the Kispiox Valley from the South Coast in the summer of 2016 with an intent to learn to homestead, get connected, and do something useful with herself. It was a leap of faith that has payed off beyond her wildest dreams. Shortly after landing she joined the SWCC team as a Community Organizer Intern, and from there stepped up to steer the SES ship, further specializing the programming toward resilient ecosystem agriculture, regenerative poultry, and community economic development. With a background in sustainable agriculture and an interest in renewable energy and alternative building techniques, she finds this job endlessly fascinating and rewarding – but it’s the people she meets and works with and the landscape she moves through each day that truly fulfill her. She loves working collaboratively with local communities on projects she believes in. When not on the farm or out in the watershed, Kesia is also a singer-songwriter and Ki Aikido teacher. Email Kesia.
Operations Manager - Skeena Energy Solutions
Jennifer belongs to the Lax Gibuu (Wolf Clan). She recognizes her Wilnaatahl, her future role as a matriarch and the responsibilities that come with that. She makes an effort to practice the Sim’algax (Gitxsan language), and is continuously learning about her Gitxsan traditions and Ayook, which strengthens her relationship to the land – to the Lax Yip. Jennifer was born in Terrace and was raised there for several years until moving to Sik-e-Dakh when she was 9. She grew up with a fear of water, but in 2011 caught wind of a ‘Women On Water’ rafting program and convinced herself she needed to sign up so she could face her fear head on – and it absolutely helped! She’s been on several rafting trips, both through SWCC’s programs and on her own with friends and family. While she’s moved away from the Hazeltons a handful of times, something always draws her back. After returning to Hazelton a few years ago, she attended Coast Mountain College where she completed her first year of carpentry at the top of her class, being only one of three women in the program. Jen has had a hand in the construction of the new Gitanmaax Food & Fuel building, a winter bee-shed for Senden, and recently joined the SWCC team to help build the new solar-powered YOW base, and the infrastructure of Skeena Energy Solutions’s latest Poultry-Centered Regenerative Agriculture project. Indigenous food sovereignty, sustainable building methods, and regenerative agriculture are some of the things she is most passionate about, as well as some of the things she gets to work on at SWCC. Email Jennifer.
Special Projects Manager
Senior River Guide
Raised by a master fisherman and an outstanding office-mom, Simon had a good head-start in life as a little alevin. As a fry he grew his love for the outdoors including the Kispiox Valley which he has called home his whole life. Through his teen years as a parr, he started spending more and more time on, in, and around rivers. At 14, he was lucky enough to spend a few days in the Sacred Headwaters of the Skeena, seeing off the Skeena Swim team in 2009. He then participated in the second and third ever Youth On Water programs when he was 15 and 16 years old and took up fly fishing. After graduating high school the young smolt journeyed away from his Skeena home to pursue music as a drummer/booking manager in his band at the time, The Racket, always keeping his river roots close at heart. As a young adult, he traveled far and wide, venturing from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean and reaching as far as Southern Africa where he worked with youth. Now as a matured adult, Simon has returned home and is rooted as ever in the rivers that raised him. With over three years of river guiding experience, Simon is dedicated to his role in SWCC to mentor, empower, and learn from our local youth. Simon is in love with this job and the amazing life it imparts… a life on water. Email Jesse.