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In Memoriam – Gus Yaki August 19, 1932 – August 10, 2020

October 26, 2020

Wild Lands Advocate article by: Christyann Olson, AWA Executive Director

Click here for a pdf version of the article.

AWA Wilderness Defender Award Winner, Gustave Yaki passed away August 10, 2020. Gus would have been 88 on August 19th, 2020. He was diagnosed earlier this year with pancreatic cancer and deteriorated quickly. There are many fond AWA memories of Gus, times he spent helping others learn what he knew and inspiring others to care. Gus was the generous master and mentor, whether he was teaching at Kids’ Camp Days, exploring Nose Hill with Brownies and Guides, or helping people of all ages and backgrounds find new experiences through observing and respecting nature. He led bio-blitz days with any who would like to learn and join him and documented the flora and fauna found on private and public lands throughout the province. In 2017, Gus celebrated Canada’s 150th birthday by organizing and leading a walking tour across southern Alberta. From May 19th to June 22nd Gus guided people from the Saskatchewan border to Waterton Lakes National Park. This incredible adventure brought renewed interest in the endangered species and habitats that lack protection in Alberta’s grasslands (See Angela Waldie’s account of this tour in the September 2017 issue of Wild Lands Advocate). On New Year’s Day 2020, along with a few others, I spent a great day with Gus walking and counting birds and making observations of their behaviour in the woods. It has been an honour to count Gus as a friend. He is missed greatly and, thankfully, his legacy lives on in all of us who he inspired to care about nature.  AWA is grateful  and honoured for the kindness  and caring he showed even in his dying days by making the request that, if his friends so desired, they could make donations in his memory to the Alberta Wilderness Association or the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

No public hearings are scheduled. Only one Alberta organization, the Alberta Wilderness Association, is independent enough that it continues championing public land and the people's right of access to it. So people must speak individually, as they have so many times before, directly to the premier, the minister of Sustainable Resource Development and their MLA, and remind them of what public land means to all of us, that none of it is surplus to our needs, that we do not want it sold.
- Bob Scammell, 2003
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