The Canadian Parks Council has unveiled a new award set to honour the memory of Micah Messent, a young Courtenay environmentalist who died in the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash earlier this year.
The Micah Messent Young Professional Award of Excellence will recognize a young employee, intern, contractor or volunteer from a Canadian Parks Council member agency. It will be funded, in part, by Messent’s employer BC Parks.
The winner will have demonstrated leadership in managing protected areas and a passionate commitment to environmental stewardship and conservation awareness, youth leadership and internal capacity development, and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
This new award will celebrate young professionals who show the same kind of influence and potential as Messent. Recipients will be between the ages of 18-30 and will have demonstrated action that has helped to engage and connect people with nature.
The award was announced at the Canadian Parks Council’s annual general meeting in Quebec on Oct. 7.
Messent was a young BC Parks employee who was travelling to Kenya to participate in the United Nations Environment Assembly and meet with youth and leaders from around the world when the plane, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed just six minutes after takeoff, killing Messent and 156 others. The cause of the accident remains under investigation.
“Micah was proud to come from a family with a rich history of working and spending time in national parks and taking care of our natural environment,” Messent’s family said in a statement.
Messent was a recent graduate of Vancouver Island University. He graduated from G.P. Vanier Secondary School in Courtenay in 2013.
“Micah’s grandfather Frank Camp began his career as a warden in Jasper National Park and worked in several national parks over a span of 35 years, with his final posting being superintendent of Pacific Rim National Park,” the family statement read.
“While Micah was travelling through B.C. presenting Indigenous relations workshops for BC Parks, he was touched at how many people either knew or had worked with his Grandpa Frank.”
In addition to his role with BC Parks, he was involved in broader conservation initiatives as a youth leader with the Ocean Bridge program, a proponent of diversity and inclusion in the outdoors.
“Micah shared his grandfather’s passion for the environment and our parks system, and we appreciate there will be an award in Micah’s name that recognizes the positive impact he made in his young life.”