Mark Angelo hails from Burnaby, British Columbia and is an internationally-celebrated river conservationist, writer, speaker, teacher and paddler. He is the founder and chair of both BC Rivers Day and World Rivers Day, an event now embraced by millions of people in more than 60 countries. In 2009, Mark was also appointed as the inaugural chair of the Rivers Institute at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Prior to that, he was the long-time head of the Fish, Wildlife and Recreation Program at BCIT. Mark has received the Order of British Columbia and the Order of Canada (his country’s highest honour) in recognition of his river conservation efforts over the past four decades. Among his many other awards are the inaugural United Nations Stewardship Award and the National River Conservation Award.
In 2009, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Simon Fraser University for his river conservation work both locally and globally. Over several decades, Mark has played a leadership role in numerous river conservation and restoration initiatives. Such projects, which number in the hundreds, have ranged from successful efforts to restore damaged urban streams, such as Guichon Creek in Burnaby – to effective campaigns that helped clean up severely polluted streams, such as Britannia Creek – to broad-based initiatives to protect the “Heart of the Fraser”, one of the most productive stretches of river anywhere in the world.
Mark has also worked on, and profiled, numerous international river issues. His efforts have been honored by an array of governments, community groups, professional bodies and indigenous communities, both in Canada and abroad. As an avid paddler, Mark has traveled on or along close to a thousand rivers spanning well over one hundred countries; perhaps more than any other. From 2003 to 2007, his acclaimed Riverworld program, launched in conjunction with National Geographic on-line, played to sold-out audiences across North America and the program’s website had more than 40 million visits. In 2007, his follow-up program, Wild Water, Wild Earth, a sequel to Riverworld, enjoyed similar success. Mark continues to work on conservation issues, both across Canada and elsewhere in the world. He has written close to 300 articles and essays about his experiences and related conservation issues for an array of publications and is a regular contributor to the Vancouver Sun and other newspapers.
Mark served as a past Chair and inaugural member of the Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council. In addition, Mark also served as the first non-government provincial representative and Chair of the Canadian Heritage Rivers Board. He was also the inaugural Chair of the BC Heritage River System from 1997 to 2001, the first provincial initiative of its kind. From 1998 to 2000, Mark was appointed by the Province to chair the BC Park Legacy Panel, a public consultation exercise that engaged almost one hundred thousand British Columbians. Among many key findings, the panel outlined the need to strengthen BC Park’s commitment to ecological integrity while also advocating the need for increased funding for a park system that had recently doubled in size. As long time Rivers Chair for the Outdoor Recreation Council of BC, Mark has also coordinated the compilation of BC’s annual “most endangered rivers” list since its inception in 1993.
In 2011, Mark coordinated a major Water for Life benefit concert in Burnaby, BC which was also filmed by Global TV to air as a major television special. The event focused on the importance of all waterways and the need to be good water stewards wherever we might live. The genesis of this event stemmed from Mark’s experiences in Ethiopia’s Omo River Valley in 2010. All proceeds from the Water for Life concert benefitted international water relief efforts.
Mark retired from BCIT in 2011 at which time he was honoured with a lifetime achievement award from the BCIT Alumni and named honorary Chair Emeritus of the BCIT Rivers Institute. That same year, he was presented with the prestigious Land Champion Award by the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia. In 2012, the City of Burnaby honoured Mark by naming a local creek after him. In 2014, he was enshrined in the Fraser River Hall of Fame at a gala event at the Fraser River Discovery Center and that same year was the recipient of the Barsby Award for lifetime achievement, the highest award bestowed by the 40,000 member BC Wildlife Federation. In 2015, Mark was named by Canadian Geographic as one of Canada’s greatest modern explorers. Mark is currently completing a major feature film, entitled RiverBlue, which entailed an unprecedented three year around-the-world journey by river.
Mark continues to support and mentor both fledgling and established river conservation groups, as well as young people with an interest in river conservation. Mark is a Canadian and lives in Burnaby, British Columbia with his wife, Kathie. They have 2 adult daughters, Kelly and Lindsay, and 2 grandchildren, Tucker and Grey.