Outspoken conservationist recognized by BC faculty association

Social Sciences

- Anne MacLaurin

UVic wildlife expert Dr. Chris Darimont—a research pioneer on BC’s coastal wolves and bears, and a passionate advocate for science-based conservation policy—is this year’s winner of the Distinguished Academics Early in Career award from the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of BC (CUFA-BC).

Darimont, who is the Hakai-Raincoast geography professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences, is an interdisciplinary conservation scientist who has conducted groundbreaking research on the importance of wolves and bears to coastal ecosystems and people. For example, he brought new evidence into the grizzly bear trophy hunting controversy by working with locally owned and operated bear ecotourism companies to take a science-based “inventory” of bears in their area.

Darimont and his students study the relationships among wildlife, salmon and people on BC’s central coast, also known as the Great Bear Rainforest. The research is united by strong partnerships with the four Indigenous Nations (Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/ Xais’xais, Wuikinuxv and Nuxalk) of the central coast who hold Indigenous knowledge of the area.

Darimont’s professorship and UVic’s Applied Conservation Science Lab are supported by two investors: Hakai Institute and Raincoast Conservation Foundation. The Hakai Institute focuses on long-term ecological and community-engaged research while the Raincoast Conservation Foundation provides Darimont a direct route for influencing conservation policy. He was, for instance, an official intervener and expert witness before the Joint Review Panel regarding the Northern Gateway project.

“I’ve been uplifted by my nominators and supporters, who are the same people behind the accomplishments that I’m being singled out for,” he says. “So I feel a sense of pleasant responsibility to give back to my partners: students, nonprofit colleagues and the young leaders from the sovereign Indigenous nations of our coast.”

Darimont began his wildlife research career while he was a biology PhD candidate at UVic, under the supervision of UVic biologist Dr. Tom Reimchen. Darimont says he’s donating the $1,000 cash award to UVic to help establish a new scholarship for Indigenous students.

The CUFA-BC awards program was established in 1995. This is the first year a UVic faculty member has won the Early in Career Award since it was added to the award roster in 2010. CUFA-BC represents approximately 4,600 professors, lecturers, instructors, professional librarians and other academic staff at five research universities.


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Keywords: wildlife, salmon, environment, geography, award

People: Chris Darimont

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