Jimmy Johnny, whose signature cowboy hat many of you will know if you have ever worked with Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation or the Mayo Renewable Resources Council, has been awarded the 2016 Gerry Couture Stewardship Award by the Yukon Conservation Society for his work to protect the land, water and wildlife of the Yukon. The Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board is immensely thankful for Jimmy’s work and wisdom, which we can all learn from.
Jimmy Johnny was born four miles downriver from Mayo. In 1958, as a young man, he began what would be a long career as a hunting guide and outfitter in the headwaters of the Bonnet-Plume, the Snake, and the Stewart Rivers of the Peel River Watershed. Jimmy Johnny’s knowledge of the terrain has made him one of the most well respected guides in the territory.
“Jimmy has driven countless miles up and down the highway from his home in Mayo to Whitehorse and Dawson, to attend government consultations and board and council meetings to share his knowledge and call for protection of the water and wildlife of his traditional territory,” said Executive Director of YCS, Christina Macdonald. “He has been a tireless spokesman for the Peel River Watershed and a fierce defender of the plants, animals and culturally important areas of the region.”
Graham Van Tighem, Executive Director of the Board, reflected on his long working relationship with Jimmy: “Not much has changed with Jimmy Johnny since I first started working with him through the processes and challenges of the co-management machinery that graced the Yukon’s management frameworks back in 1993. He still wears the same boots and the same belt buckle but more importantly, he still evokes the same passion and demonstrates the same profound commitment for fish and wildlife and their habits today as he did when he first started.”
Said Jimmy Johnny about receiving the Gerry Couture Stewardship Award: “I am honoured and I remind people when you are in the wilderness and you see water, remember how it keeps us all alive – everyone needs to try hard to get it protected.”
Since 2009, an anonymous donor has provided the Gerry Couture Stewardship Medal and $1,000 prize to an individual chosen for outstanding personal dedication to natural resource conservation and management in the Yukon. The donor of the award is inspired by Gerry Couture’s fearlessness, creativity, innovation, and ‘curmudgeonliness’. Gerry Couture has a long and varied past as a commercial pilot, homesteader, trapper, commercial fisherman, and placer miner. For years he was on the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board and the Yukon Salmon Committee. Gerry most recently worked as YCS’s Mining Coordinator until he retired in 2009.
More information about the award can be found on the YCS website.