Party with a Purpose – Celebrate with me & Support our Youth Watershed Restoration Program – Goal $5000 DONATE
by Jane Kilthei, CENC Board Chair and Nature Centre Volunteer
One Saturday in the late summer of 1951 my parents celebrated their wedding anniversary for the last time (although they remained faithfully together). I showed up that day and have been causing trouble ever since – hopefully mostly “good trouble” of one sort or another.
This summer, I’m turning 70! On Sunday, August 29th from 1 -4 pm, I’m celebrating my birthday in Hecate Park down on the water by the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre and you are invited. “Masimba Marimba” will play for us – bring your dancing shoes! There will be cold drinks, tea, coffee and cake, AND I’m asking for your support for the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre’s Youth Watershed Restoration Program, so bring your cheque book!
If you can’t make it to the party, you can still donate to support the program via Canada Helps here. Put “youth restoration program” in the message box. The Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre is a charity, so you’ll get a tax receipt.
It seems I host a “party with a purpose” once every decade ever since I turned 50. In 2011, at 60, it was a party (with MASIMBA, the same wonderful Marimba band) to raise funds for our dream – creating the Estuary Nature Centre. And together we did it!
Since opening our doors in 2012, a big part of the Estuary Nature Centre’s work has been engaging youth in watershed education and restoration projects. Starting in the spring of 2019, with a 26-month Eco-Action grant from Environment and Climate Change Canada and a dedicated restoration staff lead, we were able to scale up that work – engaging more young people in conservation and restoration work over the past two+ years, including throughout the pandemic with Covid protocols in place.
In these times when climate impacts are increasingly affecting ground water, water flows in our rivers and the salmon and the other wildlife who rely on it, this has been important and satisfying work. As our grant funding comes to an end, we’re determined to continue making this ecosystem work a significant priority, as an ongoing youth restoration program with a deepening education component.
To do that, our Goal is to raise $5000 by September 6th. Of course, we’re also writing more grant applications – and most of those we won’t hear about until April or May. Raising $5,000 now means our restoration coordinator can keep the program’s momentum building, without a staffing gap. It also means we can continue offering young people hands-on educational restoration opportunities throughout the fall and into 2022.
This is a program close to my heart. I’ve been privileged to support and mentor young people who are deeply worried about the climate crisis and engaged in organizing Fridays-4-the-Future climate actions. I watch them finding hope and inspiration as they plant native species to restore riparian areas that shade the water for young salmon – making a hands-on difference right now, while they’re also pushing hard on governments at all levels to do what is needed to address the climate emergency. They inspire me. We also see whole classes of students from local schools find a deeper place of caring for the Earth when they get their hands in the soil to care for her.
So, instead of birthday cards or gifts (what 70-year-old needs more stuff anyway?) I’m asking friends, family, Nature Centre supporters and party goers alike to donate to the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre’s Youth Watershed Restoration Program.
Why this work matters – protecting an important ecosystem & our climate
When I moved to the Cowichan Valley 24 years ago, I feel in love with this beautiful and rich inter-tidal ecosystem. Living in Cowichan Bay we can watch the estuary daily as it changes with the tides and the seasons. Trumpeter Swans over-winter here. There is a Pacific Great Blue Heronry in the ravine across from the Nature Centre that now has more than 100 nests and 200+ herons call it home. We watch them flying back and forth in the spring bringing sticks to build their nests, hear them squawking at circling eagles to protect their nestlings, and watch them, still as statues, fishing on the tidal flats. There’s a Heron cam on our website where you can watch them nesting and raising their babies between mid-February and mid-July from any place in the world. Most of all the Nature Centre provides a place where people of all ages can get engaged, learn about and fall in love with the estuary, which means they then care for and act to protect this special place and the two watersheds, the Cowichan and Koksilah, that meet here.
Climate Change & the Big Picture
The science about our rising greenhouse gas emissions and the dangers of our changing climate have been known for at least half a century. By the 1980’s I knew a lot of really smart people who were working on the problem. That was when Larry and I were training to be midwives and working to bring midwifery into Canada’s public health care system to protect women’s access to safe, compassionate maternity care, plus raising two kids.
Somewhere around 2004, I realized that the climate crisis was basically getting more and more out of control – emissions rising and climate destabilization happening far faster than science had predicted, international treaty processes stalled, political leaders with their heads in the sand and the fossil fuel industry carrying on like there was no tomorrow – which is unfortunately still pretty much the case. I dove in and read 50 plus books on climate science and countless journal articles, and saw how the climate crisis affected pretty much everything else the supported life on Earth.
I feel very connected to this next generation, not only because of my own two kids, but also from 32 years of working in midwifery, with mothers birthing 100s of babies into my hands. I wake up at night worrying about their future on this planet with its rapidly rising temperatures, more and more destructive storms and wildfires, increasing health risks and displacing vulnerable people. So, what to do? And what has the climate crisis got to do with our very local initiative to protect the Cowichan Estuary?
The foundation of the estuary ecosystem is eelgrass, which provides a vital nursery for juvenile salmon and other marine life. Eelgrass meadows are also incredibly efficient at sequestering carbon. A Sierra Club of BC report highlighted the urgency of protecting seagrass meadows, at risk of disappearing just as our ancient forests are. In BC estuarine seagrass habitats, with the top-ranking ones for carbon storage located on the coast of Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, store enough carbon to balance the emissions of 200,000 passenger cars per year. Marine zoologist and paleo-climatologist Dr. Colin Campbell, says eelgrass meadows are “probably the most efficient carbon removal mechanism on Earth”. Every year we are privileged to host and support Nikki Wright and the Sea Change Marine Conservation Society doing eelgrass restoration in the Cowichan Estuary and Genoa Bay to enhance habitat for the salmon, birds and marine mammals who call this intertidal ecosystem home – and also for our children, who need a planet with a stable climate to call home.
Despite our local efforts and those of many others taken over the past decade there is still much to do. Fossil fuel-burning and our country’s emissions continue to accelerate. We do have the technology to move away from fossil fuels. Indigenous wisdom and western science can together guide us in protecting the ecosystems that support life here on Earth. I believe we know the social, economic and infrastructure changes and the collaborative processes needed to navigate this existential crisis. We are in a climate emergency. Our young people are raising their voices, yet governments at all levels around the world are not yet doing enough of what is needed at the emergency pace needed. There are many ways to get involved. We all have a role to play. Supporting young people in doing conservation and restoration work in our climate-challenged watersheds is one way you can make a difference. Every action matters.
Come to the Party! – Bring your partner, spouse and kids, and help me celebrate another decade of life on this wonderful blue planet – and bring your cheque book to help keep it that way! Or donate here.
Date: Sunday, August 29th, 2021
Time: 1 pm to 4pm
Treats: Cold Drinks, Tea Coffee and Cake
Fun: Danceable Marimba with MASIMBA starting around 1pm
Place: Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre,
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org, especially if you’d like a map
For out-of-towners wishing a longer stay in the Cowichan Valley, the Wessex Inn is across the road from the Centre near the Heronry, the Ocean Front Suites are just down the road and there are many bed and breakfast options available nearby – booking in advance a good idea.