A former Fort St. John conservation officer is being honoured with a new memorial award for students studying natural resource protection and management in B.C.
Tristan Montjoy died in June at the age of 24 after going missing while off-duty, sending a shock and outpouring of grief throughout the community and province.
Before joining the conservation service, Montjoy grew up in Lillooet and excelled in the Bachelor of Natural Resource Protection program at Vancouver Island University before being stationed in Fort St. John. Michaela Rhees, Montjoy’s girlfriend, says setting up the memorial award at the university is just one she can keep help his memory alive.
“I did the same program as him so I felt it was a good way to commemorate him,” said Rhees, who met Montjoy in 2019 when she moved to Fort St. John.
Fundraising for the new Tristan Montjoy Memorial Award is ongoing through the Vancouver Island University Foundation. Rhees says recipients will be chosen by faculty, with the qualifying characteristic not being grades, but how much heart a student brings to the classroom.
“Tristan played high level hockey. He organized hockey his entire life and every single year he played he won the biggest heart award. That really speaks to who Tristan was, so I wanted the award to reflect that,” Rhees said. “He was always one of the hardest working guys in the room, always smiling, always positive, always happy to help.”
Montjoy was very down to earth and cared deeply for the people around him, a passion he brought into his work as officer, Rhees said.
“Being who he was, a successful student, and then successful right into the conservation officer service the first time applying, which is pretty rare,” said Rhees. “He could give someone a ticket and then they’d be smiling with a thumbs up picture right after.”
Dugan Montjoy, Tristan’s father, said he and his son often took sheep hunting trips together. Tristan's death has been hard on the family but they are trying to stay positive, he said, noting Tristan had a warm personality and was a natural with anything related to the outdoors.
“He was Mr. Outdoors and was out there every chance he got, and eventually he set his mind to becoming a conservation officer. He was always friendly and outgoing, but firm on his conservation stuff,” said Dugan. “He was a gentle soul ever since he was born. He was always kind to animals.”
Those wanting to make a contribution to the Tristan Montjoy Memorial Award, can visit the VIU Foundation by clicking here. In the 'Designation' field, donors can select ‘other’ from the drop down menu, and then enter Montjoy Award Fund 105741 in the text box that opens.
Matt Preprost, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News