New WSC Board Member Art Sterritt has spent much of his career successfully working the highest halls of Canadian power in Victoria and Ottawa. As executive director of British Columbia’s Coastal First Nations alliance, he worked with provincial and federal authorities to establish the 21-million-acre Great Bear Rainforest as a mix of protected areas and sustainable natural resource extraction. He took on international energy giants in the fight to stop the Enbridge crude oil pipeline, which would have crossed more than 1,000 salmon streams, in northern BC.
For his accomplishments, he was awarded the Bright Award from Stanford Law School in 2014.
His inspiration? A childhood spent along the banks of the Skeena River.
“I grew up on the Skeena River—I could actually see it out of the front window of my parents’ home,” Sterritt says. “My father would catch us a steelhead for dinner every Friday—and I mean every Friday.”
“Through that and frequent visits to my aunt’s smokehouse for dried and half dried salmon, I grew up on salmon and other wild animals like moose and deer and mountain goat. This heritage instilled in me an appreciation for the natural capital that flows from our environment.”
Sterritt stepped down from his Coastal First Nations post in 2015. But he still lives near the Skeena in Prince Rupert, BC and is still working to protect the coast and the river that was his first home and the home to his Gitga’at people for thousands of years.
Our failure to care for our place now manifests itself in the failure of salmon to return to their natal streams. They can no longer withstand the industrialization that our society demands. This brings me to the Wild Salmon Center.
Sterritt believes that the current battle over excessive development in the Skeena River region can be settled if conservation groups and First Nations continue to bring solid, science-based information and analysis to the policy debate.
“A well-informed society will make good decisions,” Sterritt says.
His track record proves that tenet true.