Nomination of Mike Boissonneault for Honorary Membership
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Nomination of Mike Boissonneault for

CAA Honorary Membership

 

Submitted by Steve Brushey, Professional Member, Terrace BC.

Submitted originally December 21, 2016; supplemental information provided to the Board by Doug Wilson, Bernie Protsch and Mike Boissoneault

 

 

Mike Boissonneault worked in the avalanche industry for 37 years. Mike’s entrance into the avalanche industry began in 1979 when he was hired by Robin Mounsey to become a “Snow Bird” (avalanche forecaster) for the Granduc mine north of Stewart, BC. With men like Allan Dennis, Hector McKenzie, Herb Bluer and other folks from the Canadian Outward Bound Mountain School, Mike worked on the Granduc Program for six years. During this time, Mike completed his CAA Level 1 in 1985 and joined the CAA as an “Active” member.  

 

 

With the closure of the Granduc Mine in 1985, Mike was hired by Geoff Freer to become the Ministry of Transportation's Avalanche Technician in Bear Pass, Stewart. At the time of taking on this position, there was no active control. Mike worked as the Bear Pass Avalanche Technician for the winters of 1985 and 1986, developing the region's first procedures for the use of explosives (case charging and heli-control). He also assisted with the first remote weather stations installations. 

 

Chris Stethem then hired Mike in the winter of 1987 to take on supervision of the Canada Tungsten Mine avalanche program in the North West Territories, a year after buildings in the community were hit and destroyed by a large avalanche.

 

Back in Stewart for the following winter (1988), Mike formed a consulting business and offered avalanche risk management assessments, training, program design and development for several mines in northern BC.

 

In 1989, Mike completed his CAA Level 2 and later joined the Ministry of Transportation as a Senior Avalanche Officer (SAO), working out of the Victoria Head Quarters Office. For the next twelve years, Mike worked as SAO extensively traveling around the province to provide ongoing assessments and evaluations of the eight field based district programs. In 2002, Mike was hired as the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s Manager for the Snow Avalanche Provincial Program. He managed the program until 2015-16. Mike assumed the Managers role shortly after the deaths of Al Evenchick and Al Munro, Avalanche Technicians at the North West Program. Deeply effected by the loss of these two colleagues, Mike was determined to ensure nothing like this would ever happen again.

 

Mike’s time with the provincial program also included involvement with the Avalanche Artillery Users of North America Committee (AAUNAC). With the declining availability of surplus military weapons, obtaining reliable projectiles and fuses was increasingly challenging. Within AAUNAC, Mike was actively involved in an effort to design and produce an artillery projectile that could be specifically used for avalanche control, rather than one originally designed for military conflicts.

 

Of course, Mike’s commitment and dedication to the avalanche profession extends to the CAA as well. In total, Mike spent six years on the Board of Directors for both the CAA and CAC (now Avalanche Canada) from 2006 to 2012, serving as Vice-President and helping lead the much needed separation of the organizations towards the end of his tenure. Mike also served time with various CAA Committees. Notably, Mike chaired the Explosives Committee for eight years. He was instrumental in forging positive relationships with explosive suppliers, WorksafeBC, Transport Canada and the Explosives Regulatory Division that remain instrumental to avalanche programs today.

 

In particular, Mike played a key role following the fatal accident involving a hand charge mission at the Big Sky Ski Resort, Montana on Christmas Day 1996. After the incident, all suppliers of safety fuses restricted access to their products leaving avalanche control in limbo. Mike (with support primarily from Bernie Protsch), worked steadily throughout the summer of 1997 to find a supplier who would provide the Canadian Avalanche community with a safety fuse assembly.

 

After many failed attempts with suppliers around the globe, Everett Clausen was contacted in what was pretty much a “Hail Mary” effort. Mike and Bernie (with legal support from Robert Kennedy) convinced Everett, and CIL came through to supply a fuse assembly, forging a key industry relationship that continues to the present day. Without this effort, Canada would have been left without an initiation system to deploy explosives, threatening transportation networks, and many avalanche control programs.

 

Mike has a long list of achievements that contributed to the safety for the traveling public throughout his career with the Ministry of Transportation. This includes Kootenay Pass Gazex, Duffy Lake Gazex in support of the Olympics, the 105mm Recoilless Rifle and Howitzer Programs in Bear Pass, Coquihalla, Terrace and Kootenay Pass, the Avalanche Guard in Revelstoke, and 35 Mile fencing project in Terrace. After the BC Coroner’s Death Review Report investigating the spike in snowmobile related backcountry fatalities, Mike spearheaded a program to install 23 signs at strategic locations on the Provincial Highway Network to provide then CAC (now Avalanche Canada) backcountry bulletins. Mike was also instrumental in building the current Snow Avalanche and Weather data base and was the leader in promoting the re-designing of a new SAWS Program. With the support from other MoT Programs, Mike also helped bring the ISSW to Penticton in 2002. Mike’s other MoT achievements are too numerous to list.

 

As an individual, Mike maintained a high degree of professionalism, integrity and ethics with a thoughtful and educated approach to his daily work. Throughout his MoT career, Mike was a staunch supporter for all eight MoT Avalanche Programs and a strong advocate for the highest standards in risk management and public safety.

 

Mike’s 37-year career in the Avalanche Industry is significant and complimented with many milestones and events. It is interesting to note that Mike actually began his career before the start of the CAA. Over the years, Mike has strongly identified himself with the CAA, and to this day Mike remains a very proud supporter of the work the CAA does. Due to personal circumstances, last year was the first time Mike missed a CAA AGM in many years.

 

In recognition of Mike Boissoneault’s exemplary career and service, I submit this nomination to the CAA Board of Directors.

 

Steve Brushey, Professional Member

District Avalanche Supervisor, Northwest Avalanche Program.

 

 

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