Strong Supporters – Major Donation

A small ceremony took place at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve the morning of August 19 just before families took off on the annual Run Wild event. On this sunny day, Steve Smyth and his son Andrew presented to the Preserve’s President, Alexandra Tait and Executive Director, Jake Paleczny a cheque for $25,000, the largest donation by anyone in the history of the Preserve since it was turned over to the Operating Society in 2004.

The Wildlife Preserve was the dream of the original owners, Danny Nowlan, who established what was then called the Yukon Game Farm in 1967. One of the reasons for the Yukon government’s purchase of the Preserve and the establishment of the Operating Society to oversee its management is the extraordinary costs of looking after injured animals that are frequently brought to the Preserve for rehabilitation. This is a very expensive service that the Preserve provides to Yukon, and one that is not supported by the base funding granted to the Operating Society by the Government of Yukon. It is for this reason that the contribution by Steve, his wife Julie and son Andrew is so critical to the work of the Preserve.

President, Alexandra Tait welcomes participants to the 2019 Run Wild event and introduces Steven Smyth, donor and long-time supporter of the Yukon Wildlife Preserve.

We have an incredible group of Yukoners who have embraced the Preserve as a jewel in Yukon, whether for research, education, animal rehabilitation, tourism or recreation. There are many quiet supporters who have donated both time and money to this institution. Steve and his family have stepped up in a big way to generously give to this great cause. Steve is one of those quiet Yukoners who continues to give to our society. He moved to Yukon in 1971 and worked in management positions in government until he retired in 2007, including the Department of Environment around the time that the Preserve was purchased. In those days he was responsible for the Preserve assets as the Operating Society was set up to take this over.

In other ways Steve has given much to this territory. He has been a Justice of the Peace for 38 years and has held appointments on a number of boards: Yukon Legal Education (14 years); the Law Society of Yukon (18 years); Motor Transport Board (7 years); Arctic Institute of North America (lifetime member); Yukon Agriculture Association Board; Yukon Science Institute; Dispute Resolution Board; Yukon JP Association Executive, Family Mediation Canada, Mediation Yukon, and the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (Yukon Regional Group), and; Friends of the Yukon Archives Society.

The foundation for his commitment comes from his family. His father and mother, Ron and Evelyn, worked for many years in the Yukon public service. His brother, Randy, spent years building Yukon infrastructure for General Enterprises and other construction companies and spent time farming outside of Dawson. Driven by his strong interest in the evolution of government in Yukon, Steve is the co-author of Yukon’s Constitutional Foundations. He has published many papers on similar governance topics, and completed a PhD in Northern Studies from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in 2005. He links this interest in Yukon’s constitutional and political evolution with institutions like the Wildlife Preserve. So many issues relating to this evolution, whether Land Claims, Court decisions on topics like the Peel Watershed, and Devolution of land and resources from Canada to Yukon, are all part of a vision for better local management of natural resources and habitat which are central values in the continued operation of the Wildlife Preserve. 

He sees the Preserve as pivotal to the experiential learning curriculum of the Yukon Education system.

Asked about his 30 year vision for the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, Steve feels it can be an internationally recognized research facility in a world where the impact of climate change on habitat and wildlife is central. He sees a future with stronger ties with other academic research institutions such as the Arctic Institute of North America and other southern Universities with northern research programs. He sees the Preserve as pivotal to the experiential learning curriculum of the Yukon Education system.

Steve’s wish is that the Operating Society will find the resources to write a book on the history of the Preserve to capture its interesting and instructive journey.

On a personal note, Steve really enjoys the moose. He would like to see wolverines at the Preserve if the opportunity presents.

Ultimately, Steve and his family bring their core conviction to Yukon and to the Preserve. The Board of the Wildlife Preserve wish to express their deep gratitude for the family’s commitment to the future of the Yukon Wildlife Preserve.

Kirk Cameron

Kirk Cameron

Board of Directors

Kirk Cameron (pictured second from right) has been a long-standing board member and supporter of the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. Kirk was a founding Director in the Preserve’s transition. Born in Yukon, Kirk’s professional path has been predominantly working as a public servant across Canada’s Northwest. This has allowed him to work along side Steve and some
shared visions for the Yukon and the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. Kirk is also a strong silent supporter of our community.

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