The John Hind-Smith Environmental Achievement Award

History of the Award

In the early 2000s, local members of the environmental community decided to start an award to recognize Sunshine Coast residents who had demonstrated exceptional dedication and commitment to the environment and preserving wildlife. In 2006, the award was re-named the John Hind-Smith Memorial Award in his honour.

The Man the Award is Named For

Following is the text of a speech delivered by George Smith in November 2006 honouring John Hind-Smith and establishing an Environmental Achievement Award in his name.

I want to thank the Conservation Association for [giving] me the privilege of honouring John Hind-Smith tonight.

One thing that Canadian society can learn from First Nations is their art of honouring elders. And if there ever was a spiritual elder for the conservation community (and other communities) on the Sunshine Coast, that elder was John Hind-Smith.



Past Recipients

2016: shíshálh Nation Elders

The SCCA is honoured and pleased to announce the award of the 2016 John Hind-Smith Award to the shíshálh Nation Elders, Council and Members for outstanding environmental stewardship.

An official letter of recognition was presented to Chief and Council in December, 2015.

2012: Eagle Walz

The SCCA is proud to announce that the John Hind-Smith Environmental Award, recognizing an outstanding environmentalist, was presented to Eagle Walz on May 15, 2012.

The Friends of Sunshine Coast Conservation Association (FOSCCA) social event was held at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre to thank members, volunteers and local businesses for their support over the previous year. This event also marked the beginning of a two-week exhibition of selected artists featured in the SCCA's 2013 fundraising calendar: Bob Evermon, Allan Forest, Don Khan, Carl Olsen, Alan Sirulnikoff, and Frank Thorburn, as well as 2012 calendar artist Tella Sametz. Their work was chosen to share SCCA’s vision of biodiversity on the Sunshine Coast.

Walz is holding the award next to SCCA Chair, Jason Herz

2011: Rick O'Neill

On June 14, 2011, the SCCA was very pleased to present the John Hind-Smith Award to Rick O'Neill from Roberts Creek at the annual 'Friends of the SCCA' celebration evening.

Rick O'Neill was deeply dedicated to the environment and like John himself, toiled away quietly, never for self recognition, but on behalf of our natural environment. Whether sampling for forage fish along intertidal areas, identifying amphibians on Mount Elphinstone or photographing the natural world as a way to bring the forest ecosystems into focus for others, Rick did it all with only the environment in mind. (Several of Rick's photos appear on this website.)

He devoted countless hours to protect biodiversity on the coast and took many groups out for walks to teach about mushrooms, amphibians, birds, and trees. As a founder of Elphinstone Living Forest, Rick was the driving force behind developing a comprehensive ecosystem plan.

He made formal complaints to the Forest Practices Board about clearcuts in sensitive areas and spent long days alone in the rain, flagging land as important riparian zones. He also took it upon himself to publish a pamphlet describing the amphibians of the Sunshine Coast.

Although a mild man, Rick did not back down from controversy, delivering eloquent speeches about the need to protect our forest environment from destruction.

Here are some excerpts from letters of support for Rick's nomination for this award:

"Rick doesn't just go for the sexy high profile cute and cuddly. His work on identifying amphibian habitat on Mt Elphinstone is just one example. His understanding of the ecosystem requirements of such species and his ongoing efforts to educate and advocate have been truly inspirational."

"Rick was a founder of Elphinstone Living Forest and the driving force behind a comprehensive ecosystem based plan for the mountain that was developed back in the 90s and sadly never shown the light of day by MOF. ... When Weyerhaeuser came to the community of Roberts Creek to negotiate some development opportunities in exchange for some community benefit, Rick became part of a group of people determined to get the largest and most important part of Weyco's holdings protected. To that end, he spent days in the rain alone to flag a 75 m buffer either side of Clack, Roberts and Gough creeks in the hopes that the company would agree to set that riparian area aside. Another disappointment came when the company sold the lands to Island Timberlands who had no interest in such a trade."

- Donna Shugar, SCRD Representative, Roberts Creek


"In 1992 or so I invited Rick to show his Kitlope [brown bear] pictures to 'Friends of the Earth, Tokyo' visiting the Sunshine Coast. They revered him, calling him ‘the bear man'. Rick once told me that when the loggers were attacking conservationists on the Elaho River, he used the same attitude with them as he did with the Kitlope Bears. He was relatively unmolested and got his pictures of the assault out for all to see."

"Rick has consistently enhanced habitats and species on his property, defended public lands and supported conservation in the Region. I am convinced that the work he does is invaluable. Rick’s amphibian brochure and website is only the most recent of accomplishments. One of my favourite campaign illustrations of Rick’s is the forest timeline titled ‘a tree farm is not a forest’. Above all, Rick is true to his convictions; there is no politics, wavering or illusion in his activism."

- John Dafoe

2008: Brad Benson

The SCCA was very proud to award Bradley J Benson on November 22, 2008 at our Celebration of Conservation.

Brad Benson, SCCA Executive Director Dan Bouman, George Smith

Brad Benson began his conservation work on the Sunshine Coast with the Tetrahedron Ski Club project management committee in 1986 and 1987, overseeing the construction of the cabins and trails system in our upper Chapman/Grey Creeks watershed. When the Tetrahedron Alliance was formed in 1989 to protect the Tetrahedron Wilderness and the upper part of our principal drinking watershed from industrial logging, he became a key member.

Brad was a stalwart participant on the Tetrahedron Local Resource Use Plan, contributing many hours to sitting on the main table as well as sub-committees. Most important, he was a consistent voice for maintaining an honest process based on community values, full representation and genuine respect for all participants and sectors.

George Smith said: "Brad's health paid a real price for his efforts, but I believe that John Hind-Smith would have been proud of Brad for the grace and genuineness of his efforts to respect all sides and individuals during an extremely contentious and difficult process."

These efforts paid off on June 1, 1995 when Premier Harcourt announced the creation of Tetrahedron Provincial Park.

Brad was also one of the original founding directors of the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association and remained a pillar of support for the organization for many years, taking on numerous assignments including that of chair. Brad always offered a clear voice to the SCCA and other environmental organizations. He was also a founding director of the Sunshine Coast Water First Society and was one of the key defenders of the watershed in 2007, helping to keep all the different groups and sectors working together.

At a provincial level Brad worked hard to ensure that First Nations interests and values would receive fair hearing from government and the public.

Brad was generous with his time, his money, his humour and his loving attitude over many years. We feel confident that John Hind-Smith would agree and would approve the choice of Brad Benson as the first recipient of the environmental achievement given in his name.

2004: Joop Burgerjon

Joseph Jacobus (Joop) Burgerjon
October 9, 1924 - May 27, 2015

Although Joop may be best known on the Coast for his role in establishing, rehabilitating and maintaining Sargeant Bay Provincial Park, his lead role in the establishment of the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association was also pivotal. It was his patience and commitment as the chair of our Board of Directors in navigating the paperwork that led to the SCCA receiving its federal charitable status in 1997. His efforts were recognized in 2004 when he was awarded the John Hind-Smith award.

He also was recognized in 2013 with a Volunteer Legacy Award from BC Parks, and in 2014 was honoured at the Sunshine Coast Celebration of Excellence for a lifetime exemplary volunteer career in the field of Environmental Enhancement and Protection.
Joop was a terrific role model showing us all what a dedicated individual concerned about the environment is capable of accomplishing. It is with sadness and deep respect that we mourn the loss of a great friend and local conservationist. He will be sorely missed.

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