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Wilderness Defender Award Richard Thomas: A Many- Caused Rebel

November 9, 2022

Wild Lands Advocate article by: Vivian Pharis, AWA Board Member Emeritus

Click here for a pdf version of the article.

Richard Thomas – A man of many causes and principled to the point that he’d never let a career trump his values.

I knew Richard during his “Alberta Years” of environmental activism, from the 1980s to the early 2000s.

I knew that he had left Alberta around 2005 to take on what seemed a tailor-made job for him professionally. What I did not know was that his leaving was primarily to escape stifling Alberta politics, or that he’d immersed himself for a year in a solo round-the-world shore-birding trip, ending in England. Or that he’d returned to Alberta in 2007, financially broke and seeking a job. That’s when he learned he had a single day left to apply for what seemed like a perfect-fit job. He made the application deadline and aced the competition. Off he went to the end of the world, at the barren tip of the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland. The job was manager of Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve, one of the most important fossil sites on the planet, where he played a major role in getting it recognized as a World Heritage Site partly through his well-honed skills as a writer.

If I were asked to illustrate a scene of utter serenity and peace, I would choose a picture of a mother grizzly wandering across flower-covered slopes with two small cubs gamboling at her heels. This is truly a part of the deep tranquility that is the wilderness hallmark.
- Andy Russell, 1975
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