A note from Past President/Co-Founder – Geoff Clayton

By April 10, 2023News

This is a short talk by Past President of ARMS (Geoff Clayton) to recognize BC Corrections amazing forty-year contributions to DFO’s SEP program, ARMS, and their community at large in the Ridge Meadows Region.

I wish to speak to some of the reasons why we honour BC Corrections today for their pioneering spirit forty years ago to start this ALLCO Community Hatchery.  Firstly, as we look around us it is very evident what has been accomplished – but you might ask; “how did it start, and who were the visionaries?”

I shall attempt to give you a short thumb nail outline:

A BC Correction’s work gang Officer named Jim Jose, was the visionary who started his career in Corrections in 1957.

And what I relate to in this talk really started in 1978 after Officer Jose transferred to the Alouette River Correctional Centre, which was at that time a men’s, low to medium risk, prison.

Jim, a sports fishman, came to ARCC with vision of rebuilding the drastically reduced runs of salmon in the Alouette River and giving prison work gangs meaningful work. He saw that as a perfect fit but had to sell his idea first to his supervisors in Corrections and at the same time the Department of Fisheries and Oceans -Canada.

Formidable task—formidable man.

Jim said it took about 5 months of prodding DFO until an agreement was reached between the parties to use inmate labour and this was an amazing accomplishment, as Jim was a gang officer not a Warden. But the Warden, said Jim saw his vision as having the potential for benefits on several fronts, and BC Corrections stepped into the salmon enhancement program with a splash.

The hatchery started with 50,000 chum eggs and 50,000 coho eggs which were incubated in boxes. The DFO, who had just started their federal Salmon Enhancement Programme (SEP) in (1978), were surprised and pleased at the Alouette hatchery survival rates and this Correctional Officer’s ability to learn quickly and follow DFO directions in aquaculture. Of course, it clearly proved that inmate hatchery gangs could be relied on to follow direction and not try to escape out of their hatchery program duties into the neighboring communities too. Overall, many of the inmates said they loved the hatchery programme, and it gave them a sense of worth

This success with a revolutionary prison hatchery programme was picked up by the Vancouver daily newspapers. The local weekly papers were interviewing Officer Jose for a local angle too on hatchery news.

This changed the public profile of Corrections in Maple Ridge from their black mark gained by BC’s Haney Correctional Centre weekly inmate escapes in the 60’s and 70s to a positive view of what Corrections could accomplish and give back to society.

The news of ALLCO hatchery also attracted attention of the Sapperton Rod and Gun who through DFO asked if ALLCO could raise their coho eggs which was approved.

Then Jim reached out to the BC Ministry of Fish and Wildlife to see if ALLCO could be approved to raise steelhead. Dr. Dave Narver gave his permission for 8,900 to be reared in earthen ponds at ALLCO.

Jim, with Corrections solidly supporting him, moved on to Alouette Lake to raise Fraser Valley Provincial hatchery supplied trout in lake net-pens. Yeah, Jim and Correctional were on a roll. Correction work programs move up to Sayers Lake in the Stave watershed for another trout hatchery run by Corr’s. Stave Lake Camp. These fish would be released throughout the province.

BC’s Okalla Prison Farm jumped to weld together rearing troughs for juvenile salmon, later taken over by Pacific Vocational School and later still by Fraser Regional Corr. (prison industries)

Kanaka Creek was another of Corr.’s. projects and the Save the Salmon Society asked Jim Jose if Correction would take on the construction of Bell Irving Hatchery on Kanaka Creek, and they did so. ARCC also constructed the Kanaka fish fence for brood stock capture and manned it with an inmate who had a weeks pass to stay at Kanaka and man the fence.

Then as Officer Jose went into a well-earned retirement and ARCC Programs Director Tom Cadieux took up the roll of managing these ARCC extensive fisheries programs and lord bless us, he was another Jim Jose – unstoppable enthusiasm for these fisheries programmes.

Tom raised fisheries programmes to a new level bringing Corr’s Regional Supervisor Abe Neufeld, and local politician and businessman Gordy Robson on board to start a Alouette environmental society of some form. This was accomplished with ARMS first board meets being held in ARCC’s staff board room in 1993.

Tom Cadieux was long headed and was positioning for ARMS to assist in a co-managed hatchery arrangement and a name change from ALLCO Prison hatchery to “ALLCO’s Community Hatchery”. In 1995 ARMS moved up as a full partner in this hatchery programme.

Next came the River’s Heritage Building, which was built mainly by Corr’s inmate labour, on Corrections property.

By 1999 ARMS had move into our beautiful new office building This of course only became possible because of the Corrections contributions.

Moving to the daily Corr’s SCO’s who supervise the running of the hatchery:

SCO Ron MacLean was trained under Jim Jose in the 1980’s when he was a very junior guard and is manager of this hatchery group now. The second longest member of the hatchery team is Mike Ilaender.

ARMS has been honoured to work with these men and the new hatchery gang supervisors too. They make multi-tasking and public relation look easy which covers tasks from Alouette lake fertilizing program to helping to organize events like Rivers Day.

They also sit on ARMS Board of Directors and give us advice on interfacing with Corrections and the running of the hatchery which we value highly in ARMS.

I would like to close by saying the cornerstone for BC Corrections is quantifying and managing the risk in developing community suitable, public, work gang programmes.  This is a well-developed skill which Corr.’s does so well.

In closing and on behalf of ARMS I would like to say ARMS was formed for you the public and as we fledged in 1993, you have sustained us in too many ways to count.

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your amazing support to ARMS – the Hatchery– and the ecosystem of this watershed and other as mentioned.

Well done Corrections well done ARMS.

Geoff Clayton

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