Honouring Conservation Giants

  • Published on Nov 17 2017 |
  • This article is tagged as:

By Anne-Marie Syslak,
Executive Director, CPAWS Southern Alberta

At the Banff Mountain Film Festival, I saw a film about a young man who chased giants, the biggest old growth forest trees on Vancouver Island in an effort to protect them. It struck me that the people who get involved in such causes are not only inspired by the landscape they are trying to protect, but also by the people who have the conviction to do so. The giants are not only the wise trees but also the passionate individuals who are guided by their wisdom and who inspire others. This fall, we lost two members of the Southern Alberta community who each in their own way, were giants for conservation. 

Max WinklerMax Winkler, a retired park warden for Parks Canada was a great man who lived and breathed his love for our beloved national parks.  His profound connection to these places inspired a life of wilderness appreciation and stewardship, fighting to keep these places wild so that others could appreciate their awe and be humbled by them.  At his memorial, the church was overflowing with kindred spirits who honoured this giant and shared stories of his deep love for life and wilderness.  I was privileged to know Max and his wife Julie, to see their films of living in the backcountry, hear their stories and talk with Max about our mutual concerns about what was going on in our national parks in this region.  He not only protected the places on the ground in his career but continued this work as an advocate after he retired, writing letters, articles and with his unwavering support for the cause.  He inspired so many and his impact will live on.  He made me want to be a better conservationist.

Carolyn DuBois Saucier was another special person who also believed in the protection of parks and wilderness.  Although I didn’t know her personally, I was struck by the outpouring support for her made by her community - a tribute to her wishes, inspired by her devotion to a cause.   In living memory, a tree will be planted for Carolyn in Fish Creek Provincial Park.  Like Max, Carolyn’s legacy and memory will live on in the places they loved and in the people who admired them.  I want to honour these giants for conservation whose wisdom and passion for their cause inspired so many.

Yours in conservation,
Anne-Marie Syslak