The Shuswap, British Columbia – “It’s a true wonder of the Shuswap,” says North Shuswap regional director, Denis Delisle....
The Shuswap, Secwépemc Nation Territory, British Columbia – The Shuswap Trail Alliance is evolving. After 15 years at the helm helping to grow and guide the regional collaborative trail initiative, Shuswap Trail Alliance co-founder and Executive Director, Phil McIntyre-Paul, is passing over the reins to assume a new role with the organization.
“I’m excited,” says Phil. “The board, management team, and I have been working hard on a succession strategy over the past 3 years. Despite the pandemic, we are at a very good place in the organization’s life. The idea is that I will make my time available to focus on key projects (as need, funding, and partner requests dictate), and pass the day-to-day running of the STA organization to the very capable hands of our Associate Director, Jen Bellhouse, and the Board. While still remaining in an advisory/coaching role.”
Phil notes the management team also includes Trail Project Operations Manager, Adrian Bostock, trail designer, Sutra Brett, with assisting support from Hanka Mosher and bookkeeper, James Egan. “Plus a wider team of quite extraordinary project leaders and stewards. The strength is in the collaboration.”
Phil was part of the circle of regional leaders who first conceived and founded the Shuswap Trail Alliance in 2005 out of several years of discussions and research together. Those early discussions brought Secwépemc and non-indigenous leadership together leading to the creation of the Shuswap Regional Trails Roundtable, the Shuswap trails strategy and protocol, and the agreement to be guided together by the Secwépemc value of caring for the land. The result has been the significant growth of a regional greenway trail system and a collaborative culture of care for those trails.
Throughout the pandemic, the Shuswap Trail Alliance has found itself working harder than ever supporting greenway trail initiatives with regional partners in the Shuswap. “Being outside on trails has been one of the sanity savers for us all,” observes Shuswap Trail Alliance Associate Director, Jen Bellhouse. “We have seen unprecedented year round increase in public access of trails throughout the region over the last year.” On invitation of the STA Board, Jen will assume the role as Executive Director.
Responding to COVID-19 was not the only fork in the trail for the Shuswap Trail Alliance over the past year, however. Before the pandemic was announced, and only two months after Jen was hired as the new Associate Director, long-time trail champion and STA Business Coordinator, Lori Schneider Wood, sustained a serious concussion falling on ice in early January of 2020. “Lori really ran the day-to-day business of the Shuswap Trail Alliance,” said Jen. “My orientation period took didn’t go quite as planned, but no one really realized Lori was off sick because the pandemic hit us shortly afterward.”
Lori had systems and people set up, however, so the STA was able to regroup and keep going despite the world turning upside down for everyone. “She is now into the second year of her recovery and doing well,” says Jen, “but it has been hard. 2020 really was quite a year of transitions for us.” Lori is another one of the original co-founders of the Shuswap Trail Alliance in 2005.
Despite the uncertainty of the past year, several new grants and a very well supported online version of the annual Shuswap Trails fundraiser in February have allowed STA leadership to keep the momentum going. “Preparations are well underway for another season supporting trail stewardship, planning, new construction, trail maintenance, and all the other ways we help regional partners take better care of the land,” says Jen Bellhouse. “So we are well on track for this next step.”
On May 18th the Annual General Meeting of the Shuswap Trail Alliance will pay special tribute to the contributions that both Lori and Phil represent for the Shuswap Trails story. “I believe every trail tells a story, and the question for us all is what story do we want Shuswap Trails to tell?” Phil reflects. “I continue to be humbled and inspired by everyone who is making the trail story here one of relationship building – with each other and the land. It is a responsibility of care each of us carries, especially as we work toward more accountable relationships within Secwépemc Nation territory.”
For more information on Shuswap Trails, the Shuswap Trail Alliance, and the upcoming AGM visit www.shuswaptrails.com. Also, be sure to check out the upcoming exhibit at the Salmon Arm Arts Centre featuring the alpine paintings of Lisa Figueroa and audio reflections by Phil McIntyre-Paul on walking.
All Shuswap Trails are in the traditional unceded territory of the Secwepemc First Nation.
(Photo Credit: Ian Clay): Changing Roles at the Shuswap Trail Alliance – Shuswap Trail Alliance co-founder and Executive Director, Phil McIntyre-Paul (red shirt) – seen here at a volunteer trail day in 2007 working on the Larch Hills Traverse between Salmon Arm and Sicamous – will hand over Executive Director responsibilities to Jen Bellhouse on June 1st and assume a new role as Senior Consultant on trail projects. He hopes it will allow more time back in the field. Join regional trail leadership for a special tribute to the contributions of both Phil and fellow co-founder, Lori Schneider Wood, at the Shuswap Trail Alliance Annual General Meeting on May 18th. For more information on Shuswap Trails, the Shuswap Trail Alliance, and the May 18th AGM visit www.shuswaptrails.com.
For more information contact:
The Shuswap Trail Alliance
- or –
Executive Director (until May 31)/then Senior Consultant
The Shuswap Trail Alliance