About SWCC

board of directors

swcc staff

Our Story

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

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  • 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:

“To cultivate a sustainable future from a sustainable environment rooted in our culture and a thriving wild salmon ecosystem in the Skeena watershed.”

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 Pacific 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.

How We Work

We believe that building unity through our shared values can create a vision for the watershed that speaks to all that live here. We know that collaboration with First Nations can further secure the future health of our watershed. This means we must improve human and mental health in the region and that the conservation efforts must support social justice issues. In this region, conservation work requires a relationship based approach and this is why our connection to both place and people are such an asset. By building strong relationships and being an active participant in the communities we live in, we ground our 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.

Skeena Salmon

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.
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Our Board of Directors

Harriet Hall

Harriet Hall

Co-Chair

Harriet Hall and her partner relocated in 2008 from Secwepemcúl’ecw to Spookw, in the Laxyip, after years of exploring the northwest. They have a small regenerative agricultural enterprise that revolves around raising sheep, berries and bees while encouraging local pollinators, birds and wildlife.  Professionally, she practices as a Registered Massage Therapist with an interest in helping people achieve optimum function. She is a certified Pollinator Steward with several projects on the go. 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.

Brad Wilson

Brad Wilson

Co-Chair

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.
Wade Davis

Wade Davis

Board Member

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.
Taylor Wale

Taylor Wale

Board Member

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Marilyn Brown

Marilyn Brown

Board Member

Marilyn’s Gitxsan name is Taa-bekxw, and she is Lax Gibuu (Wolf clan). She has been working for Northern Society for Domestic Peace in the Smithers and Hazelton area on Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en territory for 18 years. She moved to the Gitxsan territories in 2001. Since moving here she has been submerged in the teachings of her Gitxsan culture ever since, and admits it has been challenging to decolonize the oppressive teachings from her growing up years. Her interest is bringing together IFOT (Indigenous Focusing Oriented Complex-Trauma) training, in all she does; this is leaning into the land for healing self, others, and moving in community through this lens, when bringing & sharing her knowledge. She believes in the need that our rivers, lakes, forests and all living creatures need protecting. Her hobbies are hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding – which, by the way, started because of the SWCC – W.O.W. program! Her highlight was jumping off the 4-Mile River cliff – that is where she said she faced every fear that was living in her body – by standing at that cliff’s edge. When she jumped, she said she faced that fear, slayed that fear, and her life has been fast tracking ever since! She also enjoys daily nature walks with Sitka & Lexi (Jennifer’s cute fur-babies). She strives to keep on learning one new thing a day. Lastly, she has taken on learning her mother tongue: Sim’algyax. She completed 101-GITK, and is now in GITK-102, which is basic learning. 

Trevor Doersken

Trevor Doersken

Board Member

From Bulkley Valley Hive & Honey: Beekeeping is a lifestyle.  Once you go “bee” you don’t go back to a normal existence.  Trevor the beekeeper lives and breathes bee.  He took a deep dive into the world of beekeeping in 2016 when we participated in a study with some friends from New Zealand; spending 12 weeks learning from Master beekeepers in our own backyard.  He caught the bug and we’ve been steadily increasing our hive numbers each year.  A red-seal Stone Mason by trade, Trevor decided to transition out of working away from home and beekeeping offered a perfect opportunity for quality of life and financial freedom.

Jim Allen

Jim Allen

Board Member

Our Staff

Kathy Stockner

Kathy Stockner

Office Administrator

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.

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Jennifer Bulleid

Jennifer Bulleid

Administrative, Communications & Program Support

Jennifer is Gitxsan, and belongs to the Lax Gibuu (Wolf clan). She has a background in carpentry, a passion for local food security, Indigenous food sovereignty, and regenerative agriculture. Carpentry is what brought her to SWCC, and she started by helping build the solar-powered YOW base, was involved in building several cabins on the Yintah, and multiple chicken coops in the Upper Skeena. Since joining the team she has become an amateur chicken tender, raising a handful of chickens (from the first flock of SWCC’s Chicken Project!) in her backyard, helped design SWCC’s website, and is an aspiring photographer.

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Anissa Watson

Anissa Watson

Director of Program Execution

Anissa brought her children to Gitxsan Lax Y’ip in 2006 and set down deep roots. Along with being a mom of 4 incredible humans, Anissa is a community organizer at heart. Connecting with people and seeking local solutions to big and small issues is a driving force in her work. As an active community member herself, Anissa is a volunteer firefighter, a women’s self defence instructor, a small time farmer, a soil nerd, river guide, and solo adventurer.

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Simon Stockner

Simon Stockner

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. 

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Derek Ingram

Derek Ingram

Energy Solutions Coordinator

Derek and his family made their way to the Kispiox Valley in 2020 after many years of living and serving in remote Northern BC communities. He initially came on board with SWCC to help steer the Regenerative Poultry Project and food sovereignty programs in the region. He has a history of emergency management, project management and natural resource management within First Nations Communities and was eager to continue to collaborate with the local community on a very exciting project; The Empowered Energy Solutions Project. Derek has stayed on board with SWCC as a project manager and is excited to continue Phase 2 of the Empowered Energy Solutions project and carry forward the Mycoremediation/Mycorestoration phase 2 project as well! He owns a farm and is very interested in sustainability, permaculture, and local food sovereignty. When not working or completing his honey-to-do-list, Derek can be found mountain biking, building, restoring and buildig trails, canoeing, trekking through the deepest of forests, homeschooling with his two young kids, and enjoying whatever nature has to throw at him.

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Chrystal Lattie

Chrystal Lattie

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Chrystal was born and raised in Hazelton and belongs to Wilp Gwininitxw of the Lax Gibuu Clan. Her Gitxsan name is Hanak’m galii aks, which means Woman of the Water Ways. Chrystal moved away from home after high school to attend university, and earned a B.A. in Criminology and a M.A. in Conflict Analysis and Management, with a focus on ethno, political, and securities issues. She continued to live in the lower mainland while raising her four beautiful children, and from 2016-2018, lived in the Yukon supporting an elected Council of a self-governing First Nation. She has spent the last five years working in administration and program management for a large non profit organization in the lower mainland, providing programming to support society’s most marginalized and vulnerable populations. Chrystal’s diverse background speaks to her passion for social justice and equity, Indigenous Rights and Title, and the importance of land and resource stewardship for generations to come. She was taught from a very young age that loving and respecting the land and all of its abundance is fundamental to survival for generations to come, and it is those teachings that have shaped her core values. While Chrystal and her children have continued to visit Hazelton every summer to spend time with family and preserve for the winter, in late 2023, Chrystal and her family decided to move home, bringing them closer to family and affording them the ability to truly enjoy the beauty of their homelands year round.

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Scott Blabey

Scott Blabey

Clerical Sorcerer

Scott was born and raised on Gitxsan & Wet’suwet’en Territories. He left the area to pursue an education in Ecotourism and spent the last 20 years in BC’s Okanagan and Interior before deciding to return. Seeing the efforts and progress being made by local community members towards food sovereignty, sustainability and Reconciliation inspired him to return and contribute to these endeavors. Scott is excited to be back and start his journey of growth, decolonization and service to the Gitxsan Lax’yip, Wet’suwet’en Yintah and the people of these great nations.

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Stephanie O'Neill

Stephanie O'Neill

Manager of Story Telling

Stephanie has worked in communications for over eight years. She is passionate about building deep connections with her community and the land around her. In her spare time, Stephanie can be found meandering in the mountains and honing new skills.

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Honor Watson

Honor Watson

2022 & 2023 Summer Intern

Hi, my name is Honor Watson and I am the summer intern at SWCC. I am 19 years old and I have lived in Hazelton for 16 of those years. I am a first-year student at the University of Victoria where I am studying general science with a plan to declare a major in biopsychology and go into the medical field. I am an adventurous person and love the opportunity to be pushed outside of my comfort zone. In my free time, I enjoy being outdoors, staying active and spending as much time with my friends as possible. Growing up, my mom worked for SWCC so I think it is very cool that I am now getting the same opportunity and I am very excited to spend the summer with SWCC.

Dr. Chelsey Geralda D. Armstrong

Dr. Chelsey Geralda D. Armstrong

Science Advisor

Chelsey is assistant professor in Indigenous Studies and associate member of the School for Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University. Other roles include Associate Editor of People & Nature, Editorial Board member of Human Ecology, Board member of the Society for Ethnobiology and has worked previously with the Smithsonian Institute. She is an archaeologist and historical ecologist specializing in landscape archaeology, ethnoecology, and land-use history. But with SWCC, she is training local youth and community members how to find cultural heritage artifacts by not only looking in the ground but at the vegetation! Dr. Armstrong is conducting historical-ecological research in northern Ts’msyen and Gitxsan territories here in the Skeena with a focus on traditional resource and environmental management. Current and ongoing work includes the identification and study of ancient forest garden and orchard ecosystems, Indigenous data sovereignty, trail and landscape archaeology, and continental range change of species of Corylus, Malus, and other culturally salient plant species. 
Shannon McPhail

Shannon McPhail

Co-Executive Director

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.

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Jesse Stoeppler

Jesse Stoeppler

Co-Executive Director

Jesse proudly calls the Skeena watershed home, after completing a degree in Europe he returned to start a family and raise two future leaders amongst the peaks of the beautiful Bulkley Valley. Mentored by Hereditary Chief and Matriarch Yaga’lahl (Dora B. Wilson) he embraces Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en culture and has been actively participating in title & rights and Clan governance as a member of Wilp Spookwx (Lax Gibuu / Gitumden).
As a Project Manager for a multi-million trust fund, Jesse was able to lead the way in establishing comprehensive community planning, land use management and create his community’s Indigenous economic development.

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