A member of the community of ʔakisq’nuk, Jim Clarricoates has been a land steward for most of his life. Working in the silviculture industry as a teenager he often saw instances of poor forest management where there wasn’t enough buffer to provide fish habitat in nearby creeks. This eventually inspired him to enrol in the Integrated Resource Management Program delivered in partnership between the College of the Rockies and Nicola Valley Institute of Technology.

“It was a great program that examined how to balance forestry, fisheries and recreation,” said Clarricoates. “Many of my fellow graduates have gone on to share this knowledge in land steward roles in their communities. It has been instrumental to how lands and resource development takes place in our Traditional Territory.”

After graduating in 2002, Jim became a fisheries technologist with the Canadian Columbia Inter-tribal Fisheries Commission which were foundational in establishing salmon restoration efforts for the Upper Columbia Basin.

“While in this role I was able to really learn about fish habitat, and how each species has a unique role within the ecosystem,” continued Clarricoates. “I primarily worked in Elk Valley area examining impacts of mining on cutthroat in the Upper Flathead and monitoring for invasive species.”

“This experience provided me a holistic view on how to approach reintroducing salmon. In my current role as a Land Steward for Ktunaxa Nation Lands & Resources, I am called upon to provide my feedback to the Columbia River Salmon Re-introduction Initiative. I am really excited by the work they are doing!”

“The Elders have always shared their stories on the importance of salmon to our community, and I am happy to see how the youth have embraced this. The youth have learned how to smoke and dry the smaller Kokanee salmon that inhabit the Kootenay River, and has become an important touch point between generations. I can only imagine how powerful this moment would be with Chinook salmon prior to the dams being built. I look forward to seeing that happen again.”