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KEVIN SMITH

Co-Owner & Leader, Maple Leaf Adventures

An adventurer and explorer all his life, and a professional mariner since the age of 18, Kevin is the leader of Maple Leaf Adventures, and one of its owners. The company has operated week-long, boutique-sized expedition cruises on the BC and Alaska coast since 1986.
 
Kevin’s experience as a geographer, backcountry park ranger, mariner and teacher all contribute to his vision for this respected ecotourism organization. Kevin continues Maple Leaf’s long tradition of helping to build the framework for ecotourism on the coast. He is a director of the Wilderness Tourism Association of BC and the Gwaii Haanas Tour Operators Association, and a co-founder and director of the Commercial Bear Viewing of BC. 
 
He prioritizes working collaboratively with colleagues and stakeholders to achieve together what no single entity can achieve on its own. In this vein, he co-led an initiative by the 7-member Small Ship Tour Operators Association of BC to collaborate with the Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Gitga’at, Wuikinuxw and Gitxaala nations and the BC government to remove over 325 tonnes of marine debris from the Great Bear Rainforest. This project created over 100 jobs for tourism employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, revived community members’ spirits, and strengthened relationships along the coast.
 
Kevin’s background includes a BA in Geography with a specialty in coastal resource management and a minor in Environmental Studies. His 5-year tenure as a negotiator on the central coast (Great Bear Rainforest) land use plan brings a rare depth of understanding to the area’s history and current situation and resulted in his pioneering the use of protocol agreements with the region’s Indigenous nations when he took over Maple Leaf Adventures 20 years ago.
 
Kevin was raised on Salt Spring Island in the southern Gulf Islands, and, following his formal education, he was employed for a decade by the B.C. government to steward the marine parks of northern Vancouver Island and southern Great Bear. He is a strong advocate for protecting the coast, and for a conservation-based economy. As Maple Leaf’s owner since 2001, he has continuously explored the breadth of this, North America’s last great rainforest, from Victoria to Sitka, Alaska. As an expedition leader and captain, he is a genial host whose love of B.C. and Alaska’s wilderness places is infectious.
 
Photo: Grace Gladstone