Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition: Working together to protect our landscape and lifestyle

Our Projects

Christmas-Fundraiser-Auction 2014


Splish Splash, Click!
Can you picture this? Salmon making the long journey upstream guided by instinct and at the end of their journey, they will die but they have birthed a legacy of many more salmon that feed on what their parents have left behind. They are swimming against the current but using eddies and other water features to make their journey and while it can be harsh and tough, it is also beautiful, historic and vitally important to all things. It is also very symbolic of the human race, we are born and raised by our parents who try and encompass a safe haven for their children and grandchildren. There are many obstacles and challenges along the way, but the the life journey is beautiful and endearing. The main outcome we undoubtedly yearn, is a healthy world to live in. Healthy water to drink, air to breathe and for our wildlife and ecosystems to have the opportunity to continue their instinctual journey as they have been for centuries.

This year think about your gift of Christmas as we come together to support the preservation of our wild Skeena Watershed.

Plus, we have some kick ass gear that has been kindly donated from local businesses and some significant Skeena products you won't find anywhere else!

Coming live online VERY SOON.

Check back for details.


Skeena Watershed Ecosystem Valuation

Northwest BC has had no shortage of proposed industrial projects in the past few years. Proponents of coalbed methane, pipelines, mines and power projects claim that their projects will bring jobs and prosperity to the region. The reasoning implicit here is that oil, ore and timber are economic goods that are valuable because they can be extracted and traded in the marketplace. This is the conventional way of looking at economic development. Things that are hard to value tend to get left out of the equation.

At SWCC, we figured that these notions might be worth challenging. The Skeena is one of the great wildrivers of North America - which is definitely worth something! - yet has become a hotbed of proposed development. Many people think we're wealthy because of what we have in terms of our cultures and natural environment. Some people think things could be a lot better. We're thinking that a large-scale ecosystem valuation project in the Skeena could help set the record straight. We think it could help us, as a region, get a better sense of the real value of what we have, as well as understand the true costs that might be involved in industrial development.

In this project we’ve brought together a team of great minds to look at how we might conduct this kind of research in the Skeena, figured out what aspects of which ecosystems make most sense to look at and discussed how we might begin to assign values to important things that are difficult to measure. The
groundwork has been laid and we hope to have some concrete results this year.

How do we decide what counts?
In a world of finite resources, everything we do results in trade-offs. Overall, people have a tendency to play up the benefits of human activities without considering the economic benefits provided by undisturbed ecosystems. Over the next few months, SWCC and a team of advisers will look at ecosystem services and natural capital in the Skeena Watershed and determine how we could determine their value.

For example, the standing trees along the tributaries of the upper Skeena prevent erosion and help maintain the high quality of water that salmon fisheries depend on. Downstream communities depend on sport and commercial fisheries for a large portion of their income, therefore the trees clearly deliver economic benefits without being cut down and sold. What is that value? Hmm. Similarly, intact mountainsides that attract tourists to the region bring economic benefits even in the absence of mines. Which industry actually delivers the greatest benefits for the least cost to the public? How do we place a value on clean water and aesthetics? Hmm.

Economist have pondered questions like these and more. They have named the value in being able to ensure your children and grandchildren enjoy the same natural amenities you do (bequest value), the value of retaining the possibility of using a resource at some future time (option value) and the value of the pleasure that lies knowing that the Sacred Headwaters are still pristine, even though you may never go there yourself (existence value).

These kinds of values are slippery as salmon: how exactly do we determine what these things are worth to us? Over the years, scientists, economists and conservationists have scratched their heads trying to figure this out. It’s generated quite a bit of controversy. Some conservationists argue that by coming up with economic values for what are essentially priceless and irreplaceable natural systems, we run the risk of discrediting arguments that call for protecting wild places and endangered species simply because they are precious and irreplaceable. Meanwhile, those in favour of the process argue that in a world driven by economics, when we call ecosystems and their associated services "priceless" we’re actually giving them a default value: $0.

At SWCC, we figured that these tough questions might be worth looking at more closely. The Skeena is one of the great wild rivers of North America - which is definitely worth something! - yet has become a hotbed of proposed development. Many people think we're wealthy becase of what we have in terms of our cultures and natural environment. Some people think things could be a lot better. We're thinking that a large-scale ecosystem valuation project in the Skeena could help set the record straight. We think it could help us, as a region, get a better sense of the real value of what we have, as well as what kind of costs might be involved in industrial development. Over the next few months, we’ll bring together a team of great minds to look at how we might conduct this kind of research in the Skeena, figure out what aspects of which ecosystems make most sense to look at and discuss how we might begin to assign values to important things that are difficult to measure.

To see the new June 2013 Skeena Watershed Ecosystem Valuation Project Plan in place click here

To learn even more about ecosystem valuation, check out the links and resources below. Thanks for your interest!

Links to More Information:

Ecosystem Valuation - An excellent, straightforward site that describes the nuts and bolts of ecosystem valuation, how it's done and why you'd want to do it.

Genuine Progress Indicators - When policymakers start measuring what really matters to people, economic policy will naturally shift towards sustainability

Ecosystem Valuation Reference Inventory - A searchable storehouse of empirical studies on the economic value of environmental benefits and human health effects.

Ecosystem Marketplace - A clearinghouse of information on environmental markets

Nearshore Natural Capital Valuation - The tenth publication by the David Suzuki foundation to study natural capital and ecosystem services in Canada's major urban centres

This project was made possible thanks to financial support from the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia


10,000 Salmon

In the fall of 2009, we sent Northwest B.C. students 12,000 salmon templates to be coloured and decorated. Almost 10,000 of these salmon were returned to us, beautifully decorated by youth from pre-school kids to Grade 12 students and even a few teachers. The salmon were applied to 28 giant paper-maché salmon as part of a new regional art project, the Grand Opening on June 18 of 2010 in Hazelton, BC where we discovered this was the largest collection of children’s art in the province. From Houston all the way over the Prince Rupert, Nisga'a and Kitimat and extending all the way up North to Stewart, Iskut, Dease Lake and Telegraph Creek!

Local Artist, Bruce Chandler built each of these unique salmon using recycled newspapers (our favourite THREE RIVERS REPORT), giant bags of flour & salt for some homemade mache mixture and 40 gallons of outdoor mod-podge that we special ordered for this project. Along with his 1 year old son, Riley Chandler, Bruce spent 3 months getting this project built. He said he invoked the spirit of Skeena swimmer Ali Howard, “She swam the Skeena stroke by stroke and I just kept thinking of her as I dealt with 1000’s of little paper salmon, applying each of them one by one.”

The exhibit is just ended in Mariner’s Park of Prince Rupert, BC. We are honoured and blessed by the incredible support received from schools, teachers, students and community members. This project truly embodies the spirit of the Skeena swim. A spirit of celebration and connection of the people and communities to each other, to our great river and to the wild salmon of our watershed. Stay tuned for next year’s installment.

Thanks to all those that have helped us get this project going:
Village of Hazelton, The Senden Group, Bruce Chandler, Misty Rivers Art Council, Diamond Willow Boys, Cynthia McCreery, City of Prince Rupert, Randy’s Image Design Signs, BV Printers, Jeannine Knox, Julia Hill, From the Heart Studio, Ali Howard and MANY others!!

Communities that participated in the project include:
New Hazelton, South Hazelton, Old Hazelton, Two Mile, Moricetown, Smithers, Houston, Skidegate, Masset, Charlotte City, Gingolx, New Aiyansh, Gitwinsilkw, Terrace, Port Edward, Prince Rupert, Gitsegukla, Kitwanga, Gitanyow, Kispiox, Stewart, Telegraph Creek, Iskut, Dease Lake, Nass Valley, Gitanmaax, Glen Vowell, Kitimat, Telkwa, and Greenville.

A big thank-you to our SALMON SPONSORS: Each of these organizations/businesses sponsored 1 of these giant salmon for $500!!
Driftwood Foundation
Bulkley Valley Credit Union
Eberts Family
Prince Rupert Back Country Recreation Society

Watch the making of these salmon…

Want to sponsor a salmon too? Contact:
Shannon McPhail, Executive Director
Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition
(250) 842-2494 or 842-8738 (cell)
Email Shannon


Technical Studies - Annual Program

Baseline Inventory Research Our baseline inventory research is designed to contribute to the general understanding of the upper Skeena’s globally significant wildlife, wild salmon, and cultural heritage resources. These projects target selected wildlife, fisheries and cultural heritage features as well as locations of specific conservation concern. Due to a widely recognized deficiency of science-based knowledge specific to the remote upper Skeena ecosystem, there is relevant information that is not included in proposed development plans for the Skeena watershed. Baseline inventories provide an accurate record of the landscape and its components as they naturally occur, increasing the opportunity for effective sustainable development decisions to take place now and into the future.

For more information on current or past baseline inventories please contact: Email Brian Huntingdon.


Skeena Economy Christmas Countdown

Let's Talk About S.E.X Baby!

Skeena Economy Xmas (Christmas)

A 24 day Countdown of gift giving from the Skeena!

Did you know we have secret superheroes in our watershed?

This holiday season SWCC is offering gifts of adventure, innovation, beauty and a sense of Skeena pride in a 24 day countdown of inspiring gift ideas from our secret Skeena Superheroes.

All our superhero businesses featured in the 24 days of the Skeena Economy Xmas are people who have contributed to SWCC and/or supported conservation in our watershed. So this season we decided to offer our heartfelt thanks to them.

This Christmas purchase gifts that are more sustainable, environmentally sound and watershed friendly.

What does this have to with me?
We're glad you asked!

  • Make sure you are a Facebook Fan to receive the countdown notifications everyday for 24 days.
  • Buy a gift  knowing your gift purchase is supporting your local neighbour, going to a worthy cause and helping to sustain a healthy environment.
  • Encourage your friends to do the same, spread the word and like the events each day so others can feel the love.

Love the SWCC crew.


Before you start - know what the symbols mean:


Handmade right here in the Skeena


1% of the entire annual revenue from this business gets donated to SWCC through the 1% for the planet program.


Day 1: Art & Antler - Profiling: "Heart of the Headwaters" print

The coolest shop in the north! Visit this shop in Hazelton. Hours of Operation: Tuesday to Saturday 10:30am - 5:30pm and Sundays 12-4pm
There is a whole bunch of eclectic and unique northern art work. Has to be seen to be believed!

Art + Antler owner and artist, Leah Pipe, was so inspired by the victory in the Sacred Headwaters that she couldn't help herself and her creative genius went to work.  "I didn't know what it was going to be when I started," said Leah, "it sort of created itself."  Leah spoke her inspiration for this piece, she said it came from all the amazing women behind the victory in the Sacred Headwaters and those who continue to fight for the protection of the birthplace of our wild salmon watersheds.  There are so many elements of the Sacred Headwaters in this piece.  The raven seems to be the manifestation of the legendary "Raven who created the world," a legend in several First Nations, or in the story of "Raven Brings the Light," the title of the recent best-selling book by Roy Henry Vickers.  "I think this is a career piece," said Leah, "it's a piece I'm really proud of."

This Christmas, you can give the gift of the story of the Sacred Headwaters with this amazing piece of art.  $250 for the large unframed print - ALL sales go to SWCC!!

Go check them out at Art & Antler Facebook Page.

Day 2: Bear Mountaineering & the Burnie Glacier Chalet

An amazing backcountry experience. The introduction course entails instruction from ACMG guides and CAA instructors and complete instruction for solid grounding in glacier and backcountry travel. The bonus;  fabulous heli flight over the Telkwas into the Howsons, great food, accommodation with comfortable beds and a whole lot of awesome skiing!
Not looking for an intro course and big alpine and glaciated terrain doesnt appeal to you? There are plenty of comfortable gladed ski run's too. Something for everyone. What a great gift to experience.
(You also hang out 30 km upstream from one of the proposed pipeline routes and see through what kind of country they are going)


Day 3: Craft Fairs Around the Region

Take some time and get around to the diverse range of Craft Fairs this month. Great gift opporunities that are hand made and made in the Skeena:

Smithers - One of a Kind Artisan Christmas Gift Shop at Smithers Art Gallery. 30+ local and regional artisan's work and handmade gifts. December 3-21: Tues-Fri 12-5pm, Sat 10a-5pm.   

Smithers - Join Alana Wadley, Sam Combs and countless other crafting geniuses who will be at the Smithers Craft Fair at the Smithers Secondary School.  December 6 (6-9pm) and 7 (9am-3pm).

Hazelton - Gitanmaax Hall: December 6, 2013 all day, Christmas Bizaaar. Booths from food to traditional art work to bath salts, beads, books on history of Hazeltons.

Terrace - Terrace Art Gallery & Gift Shop, Annual Arts and Crafts showcase, Fri Dec 6th 5-9pm, Sat 7th 10am - 4pm.


Day 4: Roy Henry Vickers

Roy HenryVickers was born on the Nass River but raised in Kitkatla, Hazelton. He is one of Canada’s most celebrated artists and his artwork can be found around the world. "Salmon are honoured and celebrated by all coastal peoples; the fish serves as a powerful symbol of regeneration, self-sacrifice and perseverance". He is also an accomplished carver, design advisor of prestigious public spaces, a sought-after keynote speaker, and publisher and author of several successful books.

We are blessed to be hosting Vicker's art show here in Hazelton this month at Misty Rivers Gallery @ the River Boat, Old Hazelton 250 842 0096. In fact, Roy will be signing and meeting with the public on December 8th 12-4pm.

If you can't make it down to the River Boat you can purchase gifts online from with his amazing collection of artwork including prints, 2014 calendar and many books including his new book 'Raven Brings the Light':

Raven Brings the Light                 Roy Henry Vickers 2014 Calendar


Go visit his website to view the full collection of his brilliant work.


Day 5: Mercedes Beans Model Teas

Experience the amazing Sacred Headwaters Blend of coffee, from our very own on-site coffee roasting connection. Proceeds of the Sacred Headwaters blend go directly to SWCC.
Mercedes Beans coffee not only tastes better, it is also easier on our digestive and nervous systems due to less acid then most beans. They choose coffee that is grown 3,000+ vertical feet. Research has proven plants grown at such elevations hold fewer acidic and caffeine properties. Mercedes Beans also specialize in Fair Trade, Arabica coffee beans.
A great gift for coffee lovers.
Check out all their details online.


Day 6: Todd Stockner

"A passion for the material is one of my prime drivers in creating wood furniture" says Todd' stockner. His artistry consists of intricately designed furniture, fine woodwork, cabinetry and millwork. Try and get bored picking this gift out for a loved one. Check out the beautiful workmanship on his facebook page.

Day 7: Skeena Valley Expeditions

Our guide outfitter for the YOW & WOW  programs. SVE are committed to the preservation of wilderness habitats and leave the environments they visit unspoiled for a future generation of explorers.  Enjoy a day of backcountry skiing in some amazing wilderness with people who care. Or take a family float trip down the river in summer and share it with the Pacific Salmon runs, which in turn attract the grizzly bears and bald eagles, wolf, moose, wolverine, and lynx. A great outdoor experience with Skeena Valley Expeditions no matter what time of year you choose to share it with them.

Day 8: Net Zero Structures Ltd

Cost Effective. Healthy. The Right Thing to do! Is the motto of our next local Superhero.
Not only environmentally beneficial, but in the long term fantastic benefits to your wallet. "Net Zero use of materials made from rapidly renewable resources, better indoor air quality and temperature control and available tax credits & environmental certifications for the builder and homeowners". The Net Zero homes even have greater resistance to earthquake damage, snow and wind loads. On average they are built up to 55 percent faster in the construction time. It's a pretty simple choice if you are planning on building or renovating. Give your partner the gift of a super efficient house plan with so many environmental benefits! Go on, take a peek, you know you want to, a simple click to Net Zero Structures' website or facebook page. Feel free to give them a call on 250 877 8678.

Day 9: Two Sisters Cafe

The fantastic food is locally sourced and they use organic ingredients as much as possible. Specialty coffees, delicious desserts and great food and sometime live entertainment! They cater weddings, reunions, boardroom meetings, birthday parties and more. A great place for a Christmas coffee with a friend. Grab a gift certificate or take your staff for a Christmas party, weekends are sold out until Christmas, but week nights are available.

  Sign up to their newsletter and check out the Facebook page. Check out these new shopping bags - not a bad gift idea!








Day 10: Skeena Bookstores

We are inherently wealthy in read's from local writers. We have outlined just some of the great books that are available in our local bookstores and online. Grab a cuppa, stay warm and read up a mountain full of interesting, educational and informative books.

Between Dusk and Night by Emily Mcgiffin, features poems about reconciling environmental and social issues and the cover photo is our very own Brian Huntington's shot. Emily is one of Canada's leading poets, a Canadian literary award winner as well as an SWCC staffer!!

Moose Book by Penny Louie, Kaska/Tahltan artist, explains step-by-step how to prepare a hide for tanning. Louie shares her knowledge about preparing moose hides and sewing skins so that the art of tanning skins the old traditional way will continue for future generations.

The Sacred Headwaters, Wade Davis The fight to save the Skeena, Stikine and Nass rivers. A book portraying the rugged and wild lands while Wade Davis provides compelling text of the region's beauty and the threat the large corporate industry is playing in fossil fuel development proposals.

The Salmon Recipes: It's such a special book that has brought a diverse group of people together along the North Coast to protect an environment that is so highly valued. Not just a deliciously visual salmon recipe book, but it also has so much love and authenticity behind the cultural lives of those that live from the land. Recipes from grandmothers who are passing on "our culture, our cuisine and our way of life down to our children.…..the best recipe we have for stopping a coalition of government and big oil interests with plans for destroying our land". This one can be found online at Prince Rupert Environmental Society.

Check out these stores for the assigned books:

Mountain Eagle Books: 
Lose yourself in the delicious food as you browse the large array of used books and some great new ones! Also a great place to pick up tickets for local shows around town, another great gift idea!

Prince Rupert Rainforest Bookstore
Enjoy a cuppa while you browse the selection of great reads and local art. Or if you can't make it to the store you can utilize their online store.

Misty River Books - Terrace
Shop online or browse the store for the selection of good books.


Day 11: Rachelle Van Zanten


Voice of the Skeena, Rachelle has inspired communities with her voice to help raise awareness about the region and the battles they’re facing with the corporate energy industries.

"And I cannot forget Mother Earth. She constantly moves me, shakes me, rolls me, and enlightens me with her surprises." Rachelle van Zanten
If you Request "I Fight For Life" on radio or purchase the track online, Rachelle will donate all royalties to Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition Kids Camps.


You can purchase Oh Mother online. Or check out more albums and items on her website.






Day 12 Boat's Soup & Juice

Experience home made and seasonal food on the banks of the Skeena River. Catering dates are still available for Christmas parties. Roy Henry Vickers prints, calendars and books for sale in the Misty River Gallery in December and early January. You can contact the staff on 842-0096.

Day 13: Spatsizi Wilderness Adventures


A remote fly-in lodge for pristine fly fishing, hiking, horseback riding, bird watching and river floats. A gift that would never be forgotten. Extra bonus, you get Dr Wade Davis hosting this adventure! The Collingwood's have donated numerous trips to local organizations and abroad to further the study of wildlife and protect and enhance key habitats around the world. They really take protecting the environment seriously, the lodge is on a complete solar power/ inverter system reducing the use of fossil fuel. Their garbage is composted, recycled and flown out of the Park. Come and spend some time in this amazing untouched wilderness.
Keep in touch on the Spatsizi Wilderness Facebook page.
Take a peek at the video, it will tease you to book a trip.


DAY 14 Dawn 2 Dusk

Two Dudes, one BIG philosophy! North Americas First and ONLY fully solar powered gear store. Dawn 2 Dusk strive to carry the independent brands that have the best environmental initiatives and give those options to the conscious consumer. These guys are constantly figuring out ways to improve our ecological footprint by making the best possible choices in their store for YOU. They only carry brands that share their philosophy, and use the best current environmental practices.
Featured brands include:  
Niche snowboarding:  Industry Eco Award for Sustainable innovation and Eco responsibility.
Picture Organic: Outerwear made from 100% recycled or upcycled product,  they even produce the world first fully Recyclable snowjacket and snowpants.
10 tree clothing: They plant 10 trees for every item sold.
Dawn 2 Dusk carry the LARGEST selection of Skis and snowboards made in Canada and the USA here in BC
You can visit their store or shop online. Feel good about the consumer choice you make with these guys.
Follow them on their very active Facebook page.

Day 15: Bear Claw Lodge

The kids may never want to come back inside!
They get taught swift water safety, various boating skills, saving trapped salmon fry, making bread and jams, identifying tracks and planting trees. The kid's also get to spend enough time with friendly horses enabling them to become comfortable and confident around them. Plenty of instructors and guest speakers to share some wisdom and great knowledge with your kids. The parents have the option to stay in the luxury of the gorgeous lodge and partake in their own activities so you aren't too far away from you children. Check out who the Bear Claw family of wisdom are and find out full details online.

Day 16: Tyler Meers Photography

Beautiful photography makes an artistic statement in any room, and if you're looking for a unique gift, Tyler Meers Photography offers a variety of striking subjects, from still life and landscapes to wildlife and people. He documents life on the coast and looks to capture moments in time that resonate long afterward.
Find Tyler’s framed archival prints, art cards and gallery-wrapped canvas at The Argosy Gallery & Studio (985 3rd Ave West, Prince Rupert, B.C), or browse his current work online on his Facebook page.
Orders for artwork can be placed by email at, or by contacting Tyler through Facebook.
Deadline for Christmas orders is Wednesday, Dec. 18.


Day 17: Dawn Chorus Guesthouse

A valued supporter of SWCC check out this gorgeous little guesthouse. Located in the middle of the Kispiox Valley, a half hour drive from New Hazelton on Highway 16, in northwest British Columbia. Got family or friends coming to visit who need some extra space, this is the destination. If you are on your way to Alaska, the Yukon, Prince Rupert, the Queen Charlotte Islands, or just having an adventure in northwest B.C, then you will be travelling on this route and will be in close proximity to the Dawn Chorus B&B. Drive this way.

Day 18: Nature's Pantry

A tasty health food store, great looking staff and a whole lot of community spirit. Bulk food section with fresh nuts, seeds, bulk medicinal herbs.
Best selection of snacks including fair trade chocolate bars, crunchy munchies and stevia-sweetened soda pop. Large gluten-free section. Fantastic selection of tea, spices, and herbs.
Stay healthy on the Facebook page.

Day 19: Storytellers Foundation

You can purchase the beautiful $10 Skeena calender from Storytellers' Foundation, Upper Skeena Development Centre, Bulkley Valley Credit Union and in Smithers at Mountain Eagle Books.
Storytellers Foundation runs the Learning Shop in Old Hazelton. They are the amazing crew behind several community economic development programs such as YouthWorks catering. They successfully work with people who have been pushed to the margins and help make them thriving, resilient community members.  They also demonstrate the importance of our existing social economy and how it is a strong part in our community. 
Their latest Genuine Progress Calendar showcases much of the heart and soul of our community with amazing local photography.
A great resource for educating and facilitating community development in the local economic development of the Upper Skeena while maintaining sustainability.
Their objective is to deliver this through education on food security and literacy by providing workshops, and seminars, conducting projects and publishing research on these subjects.
Check out all of what they do online.

Day 20: Ksan Historical Village

First Nations Museum and Historical village stands where the village of Gitaanmax has stood for centuries. Comprised of both ceremonial and utilitarian materials, this collection illustrates the great diversity within the material culture of the Gitxsan. Items include bent boxes, ceremonial masks, shaman’s regalia, fishing gear, hunting and assorted lithic artifacts housed in a proper museum facility with environmental controls.
Ksan museum is not government funded and they currently have a campaign running  to donate $5 to help celebrate and preserve the OLDEST cultural facility in Canada. Visit them online for further details or send them an email.

Day 21: The Human Health Project

Servaas Mes has served Northern BC since 1989. He is a Somatic Practitioner and Physiotherapist with training in a variety of supportive disciplines. Servaas is known for his unique knowledge of how the human body works and his fun easy presentation style.
Servaas provides one-on-one treatment sessions, teaches group classes, navigates work place wellness, is a motivational speaker as well as offers lectures and workshops upon request.
You can reach The Human Health Project in Smithers at (250) 877-3528, website , or on Facebook: The Human Health Project.


Up Your Watershed - 2013 - We are the Future!

Inspiration, joy, great energy and tonnes of kids came out of the 'Up Your Watershed' (UYW) events in 2012. The goal of the UYW program is to initiate positive action and behavioral change for our watersheds and to preserve our ecosystems.

How do we do this?

Using music to spread the message with awesome bright colors and interactive entertainment. A contagious happy energy is shared by all who attend. It was a brilliant invitation to schools to contribute and learn about reducing their environmental footprint. From saving salmon stocks to composting in the garden!

Its a great way to share and educate others in gaining a broader understanding of the watershed stewardship. Just listen to the vibrant energy behind this one young lady at the end of the video.

UYW is a musical performance that went through a bunch of schools in the Northwest from Prince Rupert down to Smithers.  Led by Holly Arntzen and Kevin Wright from the students were taught the lyrics and dance moves and put on an incredible production in each school.

The key component was singing about conservation. Ensuring sustainable salmon stocks and the continuation of salmon cycles in the rivers and oceans. Along the way the kids learned that maintaining our waterways so they stay clean and healthy for all involved is essential for both human and ecological health.  All very important issues up here in the Northwest.

When you see the videos it is pretty clear the message is spreading wider then just the kids. While the kids becomed engaged, it sure appears the adults do too!

What a great successful event promoting a very powerful message in an equally powerful way. Lets learn to really sustain the enviroment!
It's time to become proactive right now!


Rafting the Skeena - Summer expeditions 2011

Strategists, activists and conservationalists get a water-level experience on the Skeena River


During August 2011, the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition (SWCC) invited two groups of conservation leaders, philanthropists, program staff of funding organizations, strategists and activists to raft down the Skeena river with us.

The idea behind these trips was to provide a unique opportunity for these individuals to personally connect with the ecosystem, and the SWCC crew while bouncing down the river they are so passionate about saving.

Along with this water-level experience, these expeditions allowed SWCC staff, local volunteers and the visitors to collectively explore the challenges and opportunities to create lasting strategic and financial plans to safeguard this magnificent ecosystem while exploring the Skeena!

A dynamic SWCC crew, including Skeena Swimmer, made for lots of laughs and awesome food

As the groups of 10 guests, rafted down the river together they shared stories, ideas and lots of laughs.  They were guided by the wise Brian Huntington, looked after by the awesome safety kayaker Karen Tam Wu, entertained by the ever effervescent Shannon McPhail, and charmed by the oarsmen Matt Louis and Jimmy Allen.

Swimming beside the raft was, of course, everyone’s favourite heroine Ali Howard. This wonder woman would, after a full day of swimming,  set up her kitchen beside the river and cook sensational gourmet meals.

The groups travelled approximately 140 km of the Skeena, through Gitxsan Territories including Gwininitxw, following the same path Ali swam in her epic 2009 Spirit of the Skeena Swim.

Like all good river adventures, there were lots of excitement; Shannon pouring buckets of water over people while they were enjoying a spot of fishing, Bowser – the dog and expedition mascot – taking an unexpected dip, and lots and lots of adrenalin pumping white water!

Trip highlights include getting a chance to see and touch the ancient petroglyphs just above the Kuldo river confluence, seeing a grizzly running across a meadow from the air, Shannon’s stories and pranks and of course alfresco dining, courtesy of Ali Howard.

In the evenings, the visitors and SWCC crew spent hours around the campfire, telling stories and strategizing and about how to protect the watershed while surrounded by its rugged beauty.

The best laid plans are made around the camp fire, and beside the river you're trying to protect

““The relationship building and collaboration ideas that came out of this trip is nothing that could have ever been replicated in a board room,” says Julia Hall of Skeena Wild. “It was this very simple concept that reinvigorated me to do my work. It confirmed to me that I have no choice but to continue to fight for the Skeena. It was pretty spectacular to watch all of us in our element...out in the beautiful systems that we have devoted our lives to protecting.”

What struck Shannon was that the trips gave the visitors an opportunity to really understand the importance of the river, to the people who live in the watershed. "It was amazing to see how shocked people were to know that we drink straight out of the river, unfiltered and untreated.  Sometimes it's easy to forget that most of the world can't do that,” says Shannon.

Scott Bosse from Confluence says for him the trip was extremely valuable. “Seeing the place and meeting the staff of SWCC was priceless. What an amazingly beautiful and pristine place the Skeena watershed is, and what an inspiring group of people at SWCC,” while Brian Huntington says: “Floating the Skeena day after day over such a huge distance will change your life!”

Each trip ended with a evening of fine dining at the beautiful Bearclaw Lodge where other community collaborators come to Kispiox to share a delicious meal and a vision for the Skeena with the visitors and the expedition crew.

SWCC sincerely thanks the visitors for coming to the watershed. We were delighted by the sense adventure and sincerity of the groups we took down the Skeena. SWCC also thanks the Stork Nest Inn, Bear Claw Lodge, Don Messier for all the fresh veggies, and of course our SWCC staff and volunteers for making these trips possible.


Up Your Watershed Tour 2011

Skeena Up Your Watershed!

The communities of Hazelton, Kitimat, Prince Rupert and Smithers are hosting Up Your Watershed! concerts in celebration of watershed stewardship, salmon conservation and the fabulous, unique rivers of British Columbia. Singers/songwriters/producers Holly Arntzen and Kevin Wright of the Artist Response Team (ART) will join with choirs of local students to perform songs that are the “leading edge of environmental folk pop to rock your world!”

The Up Your Watershed! project is based on the Voices of Nature Community Outreach Model pioneered by ART.

Voices of Nature weaves together music, education and ecology to inspire positive action. Other projects include Salish Sea (ocean protection), Water For Life (water conservation), Winds of Change (climate change) and Cycle of Life (endangered species), through songs that speak right to the heart. The educational foundation for Voices of Nature are School Music Programs where Skeena watershed students have been learning songs over the past couple of months. Teachers are provided with ART’s award-winning Educators’ Handbooks that provide activities linked to the song lyrics that fulfill Provincially prescribed learning outcomes in science, social studies, language arts and other subjects.

The Up Your Watershed! concerts are a forum to celebrate students’ learning and leadership in protecting the Skeena’s beautiful and precious ecosystems. Students sing and deliver their own messages about positive actions. A special focus is being brought to the importance of the small things we all can do, such as recycling beverage containers—an action within the power of a child. Even very young children can make an informed choice about whether to throw their drink boxes into the garbage can or the recycling bin…whether to put their apple cores into the trash or the compost bin. Students learn how recycling reduces their ecological footprint, which helps protect the habitats of endangered species they love…like salmon, bears, eagles and big trees! They latch onto facts like these: when you recycle one aluminum juice can, it saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours!

Music is the medium; songs are the message; the messengers are artists and children. The result is joyous and effective engagement and action.

The coalition of partners producing the Skeena Up Your Watershed! Tour are the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition, Encorp Pacific and the Artist Response Team (ART). Be sure come out with families and friends, to these concerts that put our communities young people at centre stage and will raise the roof!

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Skeena Bike Service - Launched on Earth Day!

We are happy to partner with North West Watch and the Skeena Bicycle Service (SBS) to provide the people of Terrace with a fossil fuel emissions free alternative to driving. You can borrow a bike for free anytime at supporting local merchants. Transportation is too often a significant barrier keeping folks with low incomes from reaching necessary services; a bike is a great way to make important appointments. So, SBS will also be donating bicycles to those that can’t afford one. In addition to providing these free bikes, SBS, partnered with local youth initiatives, will be providing free bicycle repair workshops for our community. Look for Skeena bikes all over Terrace

Email Chris Gee for info


Skeena Elder Stories Project









SWCC volunteer, Gretel Miles, collected the stories of the lives of the elders & oldtimers of the Upper Skeena with the idea of preserving rich, shared heritage for future generations, as well as our own. Gretel compiled the interviews into a book. Some of the folks interviewed were commercial fishermen or worked as net menders on the coast, some were sports fishing guides, and some remember learning from grandparents by the river and in the smokehouse.

Gretel compiled all these astounding stories into a digital book, simply click on the image (below) to open up to a wealth of amazing Skeena history.


Skeena Swim 2009

The summer of 2009 saw Ali Howard become the first person on the planet to ever swim the entire 610km Skeena River. After 26 days of whitewater, boulder gardens, crazy currents and community celebrations, she had done it! Ali is now touring the region and beyond with slideshows, video footage and discussions about her epic adventure. The documentary, Awakening the Skeena is available for purchase. Check out our Spirit of the Skeena Swim page

View film trailer

It is our plan to ensure we continue the Spirit of Ali’s swim in the years to come.


Skeena Awareness Project

A discovery expedition of the Upper Skeena lead by Director, Jim Allen. After completing a Swiftwater Rescue Technician course, the 10 person field crew completed 2 consecutive 10 day Upper Skeena River rafting expeditions in hopes of finding and reviving ancient heritage trails for archaeological documentation and development of eco-tourism. It was a joint project with Hereditary Chief, Gwinninixtkw, who lead the Cultural Heritage portion of the expedition. The project found and revived 12km of ancient Gitxsan trail as well as campsites for future use by outdoor adventurers. 

Among these trails and campsites were ancient village remnants, fish pits and gravesites. This type of sustainable development not only helps local economy, it also demonstrates an alternative to industrialization or less sustainable developments in the watershed while establishing a strong history of use and occupation of the land. The first expedition was flown in by bush plane to the Mosque River and the second was transported by rail car to the Sustut river and Skeena river confluence. A short film, “Devil’s Club & Blazes – searching for the trails of our Gitxsan Ancestors” was produced and is available in our Merchandise section.


Public Education and Outreach

SWCC public education initiatives provide accurate and current information on conservation issues and opportunities within the Skeena watershed. These programs take the form of film nights, slide shows, guest lectures, technical presentations, field courses and information brochures. They occur at all levels of the regional community including; schools, band councils, town councils, chambers of commerce, stakeholder groups and community meetings.

The Skeena watershed is a large complex ecosystem on an internationally significant scale. The recent pace of development proposed in the Skeena is challenging for any one person or group of people to keep with. Our public education programs utilize a well connected network of government, industry, NGO, First Nation and community service groups to deliver forward moving education and outreach products. Education is the foundation of effective stewardship and sustainable development planning.

Conservation Camps for Kids!

In collaboration with the Cliffs at Kispiox River, SWCC helps organize and instruct camps for youth aged 10-17. Over the years we have hosted 3 weeks of camps in August at the wilderness resort where participants learned to identify edible & medicinal plants, swiftwater safety, bear awareness, tracking and the art of wildlife identification, campfire cooking, oaring a raft, horsemanship, fly-fishing and MUCH more.

All these skills are integrated with a conservation based curriculum that helps instill our youth with a unique and passionate connection to nature. Most students come from the local area and the camps this year boast a number of international students including a group of orphans. SWCC donates the skills of our outdoor instructors and camp facilitators and would like to thank BC Parks, Raven Rescue, Chris Howard and Kispiox Fishing Company for donating their expertise as well.

For more information contact: Joy Allen at Cliffs at Kispiox River: or phone: 240-842-6287 or check out the website.

Film Nights, workshops, presentations and guest lectures

Hosted in a number of communities within the watershed, our film nights are home to many of the initiatives working within the watershed and internationally. Film events in our communities have included the Vancouver International Film Festival and other fun outdoors film events! Admission generally always by donation and many stay after the film for a discussion.

SWCC hosts a number of workshops to educate our community about the importance of a healthy and sustainable river system. These workshops and presentations help to encourage community members of all ages to engage in conversations about developments in our watershed, learn about the risks associated with these developments, and about what we can all do to make a difference.

Examples of workshops and presentations include, keynote speaks such as Ali Howard and Wade Davis and other environmental leaders as well as workshops such as Conservation Leadership Action Workshops (CLAW) which are now in their second year. 

These workshops offer  a unique opportunity for local people who want to learn how to stand up for their communities, culture, economy and environment in Northwest BC.

Over 2 days of mega training with regional experts, participants learn all kinds of important skills including:

  • How to give a good interview
  • How does government work
  • How to use social media for your cause
  • How to get your story told
  • How to fundraise for your cause
  • How to build a campaign

 Contact us to learn more about any of these public outreach activities Cynthia McCreery.