B.C. dedicates award in memory of Courtenay man killed in plane crash
The B.C. government has launched a new annual award in honour of a young Courtenay man who was among the victims of a deadly Boeing 737 Max 8 plane crash in Ethiopia earlier this year.
The Micah Messent Young Professional Award of Excellence will be given to a young (between the ages of 18 – 30) provincial employee, intern, contractor or volunteer who demonstrates qualities that Messent shared, such as environmental stewardship, conservation awareness, or reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
Messent was a BC Parks Ranger and one of 18 Canadians killed in a plane crash just outside of Ethiopia's capital on March 10.
Messent was heading to Kenya to attend the United Nations environment assembly as one of Canada's youth program delegates.
He was raised among five other siblings on the traditional territory of the K'omoks First Nation in the Comox Valley, and traced his family lineage back to the Red River Metis Nation in Manitoba.
Back in March, the First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC) issued a statement on the tragic crash and Messent's passing.
"Micah, an avid sailor, was a graduate of the Indigenous studies program at [Vancouver Island University] and had plans to return to school in the future to pursue a law degree," the council said.
The new award, which will be distributed through the BC Park Enhancement Fund, will endow $20,000 each year. According to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, Messent's time with the government was short but impactful.
A friend of Messent's, Laura Cuthbert, who met him at a Mountain Equipment Co-op outdoor summit said that he'll be remembered as someone with a big heart.
"Quiet when silence was needed, jokes when laughter was the route. His drive for Indigenous futurisms and sovereignty echoed those he had listened to for his entire life," she told CTV News back in March.
"He was a wonderful listener and a big-hearted friend, he connected those he loved to one another and I hope we can continue that echo in this hard time."
After the award was announced, Messent's family told the province that they appreciated the gesture in honour of their son's memory.
"Micah was proud to come from a family with a rich history of working and spending time in national parks and taking care of our natural environment," said Micah’s family in a statement to the province.
"Micah’s grandfather, Frank Camp, began his career as a warden in Jasper National Park and worked in several national parks over a span of 35 years, with his final posting being superintendent of Pacific Rim National Park.
"While Micah was travelling through B.C. presenting Indigenous relations workshops for BC Parks, he was touched at how many people either knew or had worked with his Grandpa Frank. Micah shared his grandfather’s passion for the environment and our parks system, and we appreciate there will be an award in Micah’s name that recognizes the positive impact he made in his young life."