In his new role with Columbia Basin Trust as Community Liaison, Patrick Checknita is looking forward to getting out into communities and conversing with Basin residents in person. He has been with the Trust for about three years as a Program Coordinator, and a lot of that was during the pandemic, which meant relationships had to be developed from afar. Now, as health regulations allow, he’s keen on “meeting people, having discussions and learning more about community priorities”
As Community Liaison, based out of the Castlegar office, moving things forward will be Checknita’s primary focus, specifically when it comes to smaller, rural communities. The role is focused on communities that want to take on important projects but lack the resources to do so, such as staff, volunteers or know-how.
Because these communities could use an extra hand, the Trust—through Checknita and the Trust’s two other Community Liaisons—“will be there helping communities access Trust resources and other supports that can help these areas thrive,” Checknita says. “The Trust really wants to be a community partner.” This may simply involve a regular check-in as a project progresses, or the Community Liaison might assist with planning and implementation.
Checknita’s past makes him ideal for this position. Born in Kimberley, raised in Trail and currently living in Nelson, he loves and knows the region. He has a Bachelor of Business Administration from Simon Fraser University and spent time in Ontario employed at a business enterprise centre, giving advice to new and young entrepreneurs. The Community Liaison role will be similar to the Ontario one, in that he’ll be “meeting people, listening to their challenges, working on idea development and looking for solutions to issues.”
As a Program Coordinator with the Trust for the past few years, he was involved in a range of programs such as land acquisition, recreation and community development. “I gained insight into how the Trust works and where we can provide the most effective support,” he says, particularly becoming familiar with the Trust’s strategic priorities, which are developed in consultation with people in the region. “When I go out to communities, I’m grounded in what projects and initiatives meet these priorities and will aim to work with communities to identify opportunities to move them forward.”
Will Nixon is the Trust’s Senior Manager, Delivery of Benefits. He says, “I’m enthusiastic about the experience Patrick has working with several Trust programs, particularly the Community Development Program, which is varied and wide. He has experience with a lot of the types of projects he’s going to be working on as Community Liaison, so is able to hit the ground running and be effective quickly.”
And being effective is what inspires Checknita. He knows he’s had positive impacts when he hears feedback like, “Wow, you really helped us. You really helped the project. We’re so fortunate to have the Trust,” he says. As a Community Liaison, he’ll now be able to provide even more in-depth support.