Juri Peepre Awarded Order of Canada
Conservationist Juri Peepre, a key Y2Y advisor, was inducted to the Order of Canada earlier this year.
“Many of the beautiful parks and wild spaces people enjoy in British Columbia and the Yukon were made possible thanks to Juri’s work,” says Y2Y’s program director Wendy Francis. “He is one of the most dedicated conservationists with whom I’ve had the honor to work.”
The Order of Canada is one of Canada’s highest civilian honors. Established in 1967 during Canada’s centennial year, the award recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. This year 90 Canadians received the award.
"This award is a welcome acknowledgement of the importance of conservation to Canadian society,” says Peepre. “Many hundreds of people working hard to protect Canada's wilderness deserve recognition — it’s humbling to be acknowledged, but I think the more important reward is the affirmation of our combined work."
Peepre’s Gifts to Canada
Peepre leaves a legacy of gifts for Canadians throughout his 40 year conservation career. He started the Yukon Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS – Yukon) in the early 1990's. CPAWS supported Yukon First Nations in their negotiations for conservation areas, and they helped to establish Tombstone Territorial Park on the Dempster Highway, to name but a few accomplishments.
Peepre became Executive Director of CPAWS-Yukon, and launched the Three Rivers project which was a key to the Peel Watershed conservation campaign. In time, through a broad collaborative effort, this led to the Peel Planning Commission recommending protection for 80% of the watershed.
More recently, Peepre has focused on keeping wild spaces in British Columbia, and has worked as a project manager for Y2Y and as Chair of Wildsight’s Regional Board.
“We’re in a different situation here in BC” notes Peepre. “Much of the Yukon is a beautiful, intact wilderness, but with increasing threats from speculative development often at odds with local aspirations. In southern BC, we’re really trying to hold together the remaining wild places.”
“They’re protected, but they’re not well linked. They are under pressure from mining, logging - a variety of different issues. It’s a beautiful landscape here but it’s seriously fragmented. It’s what I hope the Yukon doesn’t become,” he says.
Peepre continues to provide leadership to significant conservation campaigns. As project manager for Y2Y, Peepre has raised the profile of conservation opportunities in northern British Columbia’s Peace River Break.
“We know that the hundreds of projects taking place in the Peace – oil and gas development, coal, mineral mining and dams – are consuming natural habitats at a faster rate than the oil sands in northern Alberta, ” explains Peepre.
“We are now working to get this message out there and develop a conservation strategy to maintain crucial wildlife habitat and connectivity along this part of the Rocky Mountains. But we also need to think about repairing the damage already done.”