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Posted: November 26, 2021

Carmen Purdy remembered as a force for nature

Carmen Purdy was a force of nature and a force for nature.

The legendary Kootenays conservationist passed away Nov. 24 after battling an illness.

An advocate for wildlife as well as for hunters and hunting, Purdy was a co-founder of the Habitat Conservation Fund and a long-time leader and member of several provincial conservation groups and funds.

Carmen Purdy, second from right, with family members and former Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett during the medal presentation. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW file photos

In 2013 he was presented with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by Kootenay East MLA and cabinet minister Bill Bennett, who noted, “He’s influenced thousands of people in the Kootenay region.”

Bennett stated on social media Nov. 24: “My dear friend, Carmen Purdy, the most fearless person I ever met, the best dad, best grand dad, best husband and best friend, passed today after a courageous struggle against the odds. My sincerest condolences to Carol, Jodi, Curt and James and all the grandkids from Beth and I. I will see you in the mountains again my friend when my time comes. Rest in peace.”

Current Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka also shared memories of Purdy on social media.

“One of the first people I was introduced to when I was elected MLA back in 2017 was Carmen Purdy. I was instantly taken by his knowledge of local history and wildlife. His strong faith in God and his passion for the outdoors was immeasurable.

“Sadly today, Carmen has left this world to meet his glorious maker. I was honoured to have attended the Fellowship Baptist church on a couple occasions from Carmen’s invitation. I was privileged to help him feed starving elk during one particular harsh winter and he always had my ear on numerous occasions when it came to wildlife management.

“Sincerest sympathies and condolences going out to Carmen’s family and many friends on behalf of myself and the constituents of Kootenay East.”

Carmen Purdy, second from the left, shares a laugh with Premier Christy Clark during a March 10, 2017 stop in Kimberley. Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett is to the right, while BC Liberal candidate for the Kootenay East in the May 9 election Tom Shypitka is on the left. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW photo

The B C Wildlife Federation (BCWF) issued a tribute today, which provides a glimpse into the depth and range of Purdy’s involvement in wildlife issues.

“The B C Wildlife Federation is saddened to hear of the passing of one of our Past Presidents, Carmen Purdy. Carmen’s passion for wildlife spanned decades, as did his advocacy on wildlife’s behalf. Carmen was as comfortable cooking pancakes at a church function or calling up a government official to prompt action as he was in the bush trapping, hunting bears, bugling elk or gobbling turkeys. His passion for wildlife was passed down to his children and grandchildren, whom he often spoke of.

“Carmen became President of the BCWF in 1983 and during his terms on the executive he played a prominent role in establishing the BC Conservation Foundation. Carmen, along with Rod Silver from the BC Government, was also instrumental in the formation of the then called Habitat Conservation Trust Fund.

“These two organizations continue to funnel millions of dollars into wildlife conservation, including many critical land purchases. In 2006, Carmen was honoured by receiving the Barsby award as the BCWF’s conservationist of the year. In addition to his conservation achievements, Carmen was a champion for resident hunters.

“Carmen was one of the most well-known advocates for wildlife matters in BCWF Region 4, the Kootenays, and he recognized the importance of this region becoming a strong member of the BCWF. He worked with Rod and Gun Clubs and re-established the BCWF’s regional affiliate in the East Kootenay — the East Kootenay Wildlife Association. (EKWA).

“The EKWA became a strong and well-known organization within the BC Wildlife Federation and Carmen colourfully termed this group the “East Kootenay Mafia” when they attended annual BCWF Conventions.

“Carmen’s dedication to his strong beliefs in all wildlife matters influenced other East Kootenay Rod and Gun Club members Dave White, Ivar Larson and George Wilson to serve as BCWF presidents. Through Carmen’s work within the EKWA he established the Kootenay Wildlife Heritage Fund, which is still functioning today as a charity that supports wildlife conservation efforts.

“Carmen’s bigger than life presence in wildlife conservation will truly be missed.”

Lead image: Carmen Purdy after being presented with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in March 2013 by then Kootenay East MLA and friend Bill Bennett. e-KNOW file photo

Ian Cobb/e-KNOW


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