The Advisory Council

In 2014, the Friends Board of Directors formed an Advisory Council as a way of enabling experts on K-Country, significant volunteers and others who wish to help the Friends fulfill their Mission -- without serving on the Board. Advisory Council members provide valued input to the Board and provide guidance on Society direction.

James Early
James CroppedJames is a lawyer at Parlee McLaws LLP in Calgary primarily working as insurance defence counsel but with a special interest in environmental law focusing on climate change and the conservation, protection and restoration of ecosystems and the environment. James is on the Board of the Alberta chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, and volunteers with the Calgary Folk Fest. James served on the Friends Board from November 2012 to October 2014, including a year as Co-Chair. Beyond the Friends, his work, and environmental pursuits, James enjoys camping, kayaking, hiking, running, cycling and has recently become involved in yoga. As a native-Englishman he enjoys playing ‘football’, and also plays guitar.

Don Cockerton
Don is a long time Calgarian whose interest in and commitment to outdoor recreation and nature began as a youth with his parents and friends and grew in the course of working towards a BSc in Biology from U of C. Summer work as a park interpreter in Banff and Lake Louise saw his commitment to nature and wilderness protection grow as well as the importance of engaging visitors and the public. This work set the stage for his 35-year career with both Parks Canada and Kananaskis Country as a park planner working on a wide range of planning projects and issues. In Kananaskis Country, Don worked mainly on capital construction, park management plans and focussed on trail planning. Don helped to establish the first Trail Care program for the Friends of Kananaskis Country, and served on the Friends Board for 4 years, from 2011 through 2014, including 15 months as Chair. Don stays active along with his wife Ann in snowshoeing, skiing, hiking and camping as well as playing with grandchildren and volunteering with other groups in the community.

Gillean Daffern
Gillean has been writing and publishing bestselling trail guides to Kananaskis Country for over 30 years, ever since the dawn of K Country in 1977. She was exploring the area well before then, too, so she knows it intimately and in every season of the year. She also travels to mountain areas outside of Kananaskis Country, and in particular enjoys visiting countries off the beaten tourist path. Gillean is the founder of Rocky Mountain Books and, along with her husband, Tony, was awarded the Banff Mountain Festival’s Summit of Excellence Award in 2006. She and Tony maintain a blog on Kananaskis focused on trails and K-Country news.

With over 100,000 copies of the previous editions sold, Gillean Daffern’s bestselling hiking guides to Kananaskis Country have recently been completely revised and updated. As the pre-eminent expert on the area, she continues to offer something for every level of outdoor enthusiast, be they novice or experienced hikers, scramblers or backpackers.

Alf Skrastins
Alf founded the University of Calgary Outdoors Centre, and the The Foothills Wilderness journal, which was eventually merged into another magazine to create Explore - Canada's Outdoor Magazine, where he was editor for several years. Alf started exploring what is now Kananaskis country in the early 1970's, and there are very few official or unofficial trails that he has not travelled, including being the first to traverse Northover Ridge from Aster Lake to Three Isle Lake. Alf is also an avid skier, and is proud to have skied in K-Country in every month of the year, every year, for the last 10 years!  Alf retired from the Outdoors Centre in 2007, and is now an active trail care Crew Leader with the Friends, plus is also an avid volunteer with the Greater Bragg Creek Trails Association. A hobby photographer, he likely has the best database of photos of K-Country of anyone, including contributing many to Gillean's books. Read more about Alf here.