Uu-a-thluk Fisheries Program Manager Don Hall has been named the 2017 recipient of the Larry Rutter Memorial Award in Pacific Salmon Conservation. Like Larry Rutter, Don became involved with the Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC) process with an understanding of the issues and threats facing Pacific salmon and First Nations fisheries on both sides of the border.

The Pacific Salmon Commission presented Don with this distinction during its Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon in February. John Field, Executive Secretary of the Pacific Salmon Commission, presented the award and referred to Dr. Hall’s “…long and rich history with salmon management, the PSC, and the communities that depend on our shared salmon resource.” The PSC selected Dr. Hall for his lifelong dedication to conserving Pacific salmon, and to contributing to resolving U.S./Canadian issues regarding salmon management.

“He is a true leader in his field and we are lucky to have him as an integral part of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council since 1992,” said Debra Foxcroft, President, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council when she heard the news. “Thank you, Don for living up to your Nuu-chah-nulth name—h?aamii? (making sure everything is right). We are so proud of you.”

The award presentation highlighted Don’s knowledge and collaborative approach to difficult issues surrounding salmon management and conservation, and helping to increase First Nations involvement in managing their salmon resources. Don has nurtured understanding between multiple parties with contrasting perspectives and offered his expertise at informing several First Nation processes at the local (WCVI) level to the provincial and national levels. Dr. Hall was instrumental in the commercial fishing rights of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations being recognized by the Supreme Courts of British Columbia and Canada.

As Uu-a-thluk Fisheries Program Manager, Don has supported conservation efforts on the west coast of Vancouver Island and in Southern BC directly and through mentoring various conservation, re-building and assessment efforts of his staff. Don has supported projects ranging from habitat compensation and watershed restoration, to the development of novel population assessment methods, to hatchery conservation program improvements.

The award is named after Larry Rutter whose foresight and dedication led to a $5 million, five-year SEF commitment for the bilateral Salish Sea Marine Survival Project. Larry was a leading influence in how the Tribes and the United States approached salmon management and research during the turn of the 21st century. Like Larry, Don has committed his career to conserving Pacific salmon. The knowledge that Don has gained from Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations has led to an increased understanding among a wide range of audiences that First Nation cultures and Pacific salmon are inextricably intertwined.

“Don Hall has committed his career to support Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations, Ha’wiih (hereditary chiefs) and the sea resources within Nuu-chah-nulth Ha-ha-houlthee (chiefly territories),” said Ken Watts, Vice-President, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. “We have been honoured to have such a man dedicate his career to our people.  The Larry Rutter Memorial Award is a fitting recognition of Don’s work with First Nations and the salmon we all depend on.

Members of the PSC First Nations Caucus gifted Don with a beautiful blanket at the Larry Rutter Award presentation. The blanket’s image is of Raven, a shape shifter and trickster who employed crafty schemes to achieve his goals. In the Raven story, the old chief who lived at the head of the Nass River kept his precious treasures–the sun, the moon and the stars–in beautifully carved boxes. Raven steals the light, and, making his escape, carries the sun in his mouth. The sun’s a metaphor for enlightenment or knowledge.