Jarett Quock was instrumental in designing the Tahltan First Nation’s very first environmental guardian program back in 2016.
Recognizing his environmental stewardship, Quock was awarded the Outstanding Individual Leadership Award by the Indigenous Leadership Initiative, a national organization aimed at indigenous governance, on June 3.
Quock accepted the award from his home in Dease Lake, two days before he undertook a long journey from the remote northwestern community to Vancouver for a medical appointment.
While accepting the award, Quock thanked his fellow Tahltan guardians who not only walked with him across the land of their territory but also stood by him as he battled stage four lung cancer in 2019.
“[The] Guardian program is not built by one person, it’s built by a team and this award belongs to all the Tahltan guardians and myself,” he said.
He later also took to social media explained how the program took him to many “cool places and events” and helped him meet “amazing First Nation people” across the country.
“Wish everyone could experience the life of a guardian, powerful, meaningful, spiritual,” wrote Quock in the message.
The Tahltan guardian program began as an attempt to monitor licensed hunters over concerns of decreasing animal population on Tahltan territory. Thereafter, it expanded over the years to include wildlife management, predator reduction programs, climate change monitoring, data collection as well as enforcement and compliance.
The key priority of the program was to get out on the land and establishing a presence – especially with industry expanding its operations in the area.
Other tasks the Tahltan guardians have undertaken include tracking, capturing and collaring some of the wildlife in their area – such as caribou, moose and wolves.
Quock’s journey as a guardian has been unstoppable. He proved that even after a scary brush with cancer – Quock made a very fast recovery and two months later he was back on the land, where he belonged – as a guardian.
“I’m still here and I’m still working on the land, doing whatever I can along with my guardian coworkers…and we’re doing some really good stuff here, our guardian program is still growing and it has come a long way since its inception.”
For Quock, working with youth is one of the most important parts of his job because he wants to inspire them to care for the land and animals, and the communities.
“I’m truly blessed to be in this position to inspire youth for tomorrow and to continue our important work for the future,” he said.
He is grateful to his family for the support and for pushing him to be a better and healthier person.