Wally Eamer discusses his role in the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements
Coast Funds’ director Wally Eamer and the role he played in the ground-breaking Great Bear Rainforests Agreements were recently the subject of an in-depth profile on the Harvard Business School Alumni website.
Coast Funds’ director and Anglican Deacon Wally Eamer was recently the subject of an in-depth profile on the Harvard Business School Alumni website. The article focused on the role Eamer played in the ground-breaking Great Bear Rainforest Agreements.
Eamer, who graduated with an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1979, was interviewed earlier this year for the profile piece. Eamer initially served as provincial negotiator and played a significant role in brokering an agreement between First Nations, the provincial government, logging companies, and environmental groups. The Agreements set up protection of the Great Bear Rainforest and allowed First Nations to have greater control over management of their land.
As negotiations turned to the implementation of the initial agreements, Eamer began working with the Nanwakolas Council—one of the two First Nations groups at the table. He left the negotiating up to the Nations and played a supporting role building actionable strategies.
The final Great Bear Rainforest Agreements announced in 2016 protected 85 per cent of the forest in the area from industrial logging and the rest was subject to stringent logging standards.
Wally Eamer (MBA 1979) watched the [Great Bear Rainforest] negotiations stumble from the sidelines. Eamer was a longtime provincial employee, but his
stake in the negotiations was also personal. He had grown up in logging communities alongside First Nations and had a deep appreciation for the natural world. Everyone he knew would feel the impact of this. He was in the midst of a spiritual conversion, too, having become a Christian in 1997, and was increasingly focused on how he could best serve.
Eamer was then working as head of the provincial conservation office—“the fish and wildlife police, basically,” he says. He was in his early 50s and in his 15th year of government work. His career was in stasis, and by 2002, he didn’t necessarily care if it went up, down, or sideways.
He had a good rapport with the provincial official who oversaw the negotiator role; he had worked for him before and shown an ability to sort out conflict. There was a mutual respect and mutual interest—and not much competition. “To be blunt, hardly anybody wanted the job, because it was widely seen as a career killer,” he says.