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A profound loss to CPAWS and to conservation in the Peel

Yesterday, the conservation community lost a passionate fighter and a man who put all his energy and  soul into the protection of the Peel watershed in the Yukon. Mike Dehn was CPAWS Yukon’s Executive Director up until last November when his battle with cancer needed his full attention.

The Peel watershed campaign has been a long struggle for CPAWS and Mike left no stone unturned when it came to getting permanent protection for this pristine and awesome wilderness. He joined the CPAWS staff team almost six years ago with a determination to see the campaign won. His efforts were paying off... a clear recommendation from the watershed planning commission was going to see the majority of this watershed protected for future generations. Unfortunately, the current Yukon government decided not to heed its own commission’s recommendations, despite growing public consensus and strong aboriginal support for conserving  the Peel.

Mike’s heart broke at the news last fall that a new round of public consultations would be started on an entirely different plan for the Peel’s future, and that all the previous feedback and support for the commission’s recommendations would be ignored. Yet he continued to fight.

Mike was an outstanding conservationist. Strategic, thoughtful, considerate and a true relationship-builder. He was an inspiration to so many of us in his strength and focus. As he became increasingly weakened by the cancer he battled, he pushed even harder so that he could leave a legacy of protection in the Peel.

While Mike did not live to see  the final outcome, we all need to rally and make Mike’s dream come true. When the Peel is protected -- not if, but when -- we will owe a significant debt of gratitude to Mike for his dedicated work to make it a reality.

We will miss you deeply Mike. But rest assured that your efforts will not have been in vain.

Donations in memory of Mike can be made to our work in the Peel watershed. We have created a special fund called the Mike Dehn Memorial Fund. Cheques should be made out to CPAWS with a note at the bottom indicating your desire to dedicate your donation to this fund. You may also make a contribution online here and check off 'in memory of' Mike. These funds will be dedicated to work in the Peel watershed by our Yukon Chapter.