Dave Brown's love affair with fishing began as a young boy growing up in Montreal, just blocks from the St. Lawrence River.
It's a passion that he's carried into his adult years, first as a fishing guide in Whistler and then as a fervent advocate for wild salmon conservation through his role on the Squamish-Lillooet Sportfish Advisory Committee.
"I got involved in (fish conservation) because I thought it was important to give back to something that had given me so much in life," said Brown, who was honoured with a National Recreational Fisheries Award in a ceremony last week at Nita Lake Lodge.
Handed out by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the award honours individuals and groups that have contributed to the "conservation, restoration and enhancement of Canada's recreational fisheries and their habitat."
"Dave was instrumental in the creation of the Sea-to-Sky Area Fish Committee and, over the years, has devoted hundreds of hours volunteering for numerous diverse area fish and watershed management groups, including serving on the Squamish-Lillooet Sportfish Advisory Committee," wrote Angela Bate, the DFO's Pacific Region area director for the Fraser and B.C. Interior, in a statement.
Brown, a local realtor, has played a hand in a number of projects aimed at enhancing and restoring fisheries and fish habitat, particularly on the Lillooet River Watershed. He was instrumental in the development of the Squamish Basin ahead of the 2010 Winter Olympics, and has also promoted ethical angling practices at every turn.
The DFO's distinction was especially meaningful for Brown considering he hasn't shied away from criticizing the federal agency in the past.
"(The DFO) knows we both have the same goals, and although we may not always be on the same side as far as what direction we think (the agency) should go, I think they realize our hearts are always in the right place," Brown noted.
Brown has for years lobbied Ottawa to reinstate the protections in the Fisheries Act that were gutted under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and continues to call on the federal Liberals to follow through on their election promise to adopt the recommendations of 2012's landmark Cohen Commission, which examined the years-long decline of sockeye salmon in the Fraser River.
He's hopeful last Friday's award ceremony will help move the needle in the right direction.
"I think an evening like that awards ceremony empowers (officials) when they see how many people truly care about wild salmon," he said.
Brown also wanted to extend a special thanks to DFO employees Devona Adams and Leri Davies, as well as Squamish-Lillooet Sportfish Advisory Committee chair John Wright.