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Our Community: Scouts Apple Day returns, construction firm donates land along Englishman River

A B.C.-based construction company has donated nearly 29 hectares of land along the Englishman River, valued at more than $5 million, to The Nature Trust of B.C.
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At the 1st Douglas Scout Hall, Cubs Bowen Bratzer, 7, back left, and William Siegner, 8, pose with Beavers Ellie Middlebrook, 6, front left, Nolan McMahon, 5, front middle, and Matthew Siegner, 6. Scouts Canada’s Apple Day fundraiser returns Saturday, Oct. 8. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Scouts Canada’s Apple Day returns Saturday

Keep a lookout for Beavers, Cubs and Scouts at shopping centres in your neighbourhood with the return of Scouts Canada’s Apple Day, Saturday, Oct. 8.

On hold since 2019, the annual event — where members of the public receive an apple in return for donations — is an important fundraiser, typically raising about $20,000 for the organization.

Locally, half the proceeds will help fund programs and the other half benefits the group’s Camp Barnard, which has been closed for the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organization says the closure of the camp has been challenging, as the facilities still require maintenance and staff support even with no revenue from campers and limited fundraising opportunities to make up the shortfall.

For the last two years, children and youth have met over Zoom meetings.

Beavers, Cubs and Scouts groups will be at neighbourhood stores and other well-travelled locations throughout the region between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Oct. 8.

For more information, go to viscouts.ca.

Construction firm donates land along Englishman River

A B.C.-based construction company has donated nearly 29 hectares of land along the Englishman River, valued at more than $5 million, to The Nature Trust of B.C.

The Emil Anderson Group, which is involved in construction, land development and property management, donated the land, which includes some old growth forest, to ensure the conservation of the Englishman River-Kw’a’luxw Emil Anderson Legacy Forest in perpetuity.

“This is an exceptional gift,” said Dr. Jasper Lament, CEO of The Nature Trust. “Emil Anderson Group has shown great corporate leadership by donating the entire value of the land, the transaction costs, and establishing a land management endowment. Their generous donation will help us take care of this land far into the future. Today is a wonderful day for the fish, wildlife, and people who live in and around the Englishman River.”

The property will be added to the existing Englishman River-Kw’a’luxw Conservation Complex. The trust has been conserving land on the river since 1978 and this is its 11th conservation property in the area, with 343 hectares in total.

Mike Jacobs, chair of Emil Anderson Group, said in a statement that keeping a significant portion of the floodplain and hillside land near the Englishman River in a natural state has been a goal of his family for many years. “It is proof that resource extraction, land development, and habitat preservation can be balanced through thoughtful land use planning,” he said.

The Englishman River is the most important salmon-spawning river on the mid-coast of Vancouver Island. according to The Nature Trust. The river, its streams and tributaries provide habitat for all five species of pacific salmon, Dolly Varden, as well as steelhead, cutthroat and rainbow trout. Some of the species at risk in the area include the Northern Red-legged Frog and Purple Martin.

“What is really remarkable about the river is the biodiversity that is on full display and the way all the species interact,” said Lament. “The salmon spawn in the streams, the bears feed on the salmon and drag the remains into the forest, the forest is fertilized by the salmon and the forest strengthens the shores of the streams. It’s all right here.”

The Nature Trust has entered into a stewardship and management agreement with the Snaw-Naw-As (Nanoose) First Nation that recognizes the nation as a rights holder to manage its lands and resources, protect the cultural and ecological values of traditional lands and improve stewardship with ecosystem-based land use planning.

Chris Bob, a Snaw-Naw-As First Nation council member, said the nation is looking forward to working alongside The Nature Trust to ensure the health of estuaries and everything connected to those systems. “Our natural resources have always been a priority for First Nations since time immemorial,” Bob said. “Building meaningful relationships to protect wildlife for future generations to enjoy and respect is the goal.”

For more information, go to naturetrust.bc.ca.

Veggie-garden kits charity grows into its third year

A local charity is celebrating its third year providing veggie-garden kits to help households and community organizations access fresh, healthy and affordable food.

FED Urban Agriculture’s My FED Farm program began in March 2020 as a response to the food insecurity highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and has continued to run to address economic hardship and social isolation in the community.

In 2022, the program served 14 community partners, three Indigenous Nations and 120 individual households.

Each program participant received a food-growing garden kit that included geotextile planters, soil, plant starts, seed packets, educational materials and a garden consultation, with the garden kits delivered to recipients’ homes.

Between June and July, more than 700 planter bags and 3,674 seed packets and plant starts were delivered to vulnerable populations — with an annual food-growing capacity of 2,500 kilograms.

The program also offers larger garden installations for community organizations and Indigenous Nations.

“Food prices have risen almost 10 per cent this year alone, and people are feeling the financial burden,” said Brianna Stewart, FED program manager. “Our intention for My FED Farm was to inspire resilience, community connection, and a sense of agency in our underserved populations during these challenging times.”

The group says a garden installed at a supportive-housing location run by Island Health has become a central part of the facility’s programming, teaching residents about food production, nutrition and cooking while providing a space to support physical and mental health.

Over the past three years, My FED Farm has directly benefited almost 3,000 people, the group says.

For more information, go to get-fed.ca/myfedfarm.

Screenwriter chosen for Storyhive’s Indigenous Storyteller

A Victoria screenwriter is one of 30 emerging Indigenous content creators selected for the second Storyhive Indigenous Storyteller edition.

Eva Louise Grant is the creative mind and screenwriter behind the short film Emotionless Girl, a dark comedy about love and loss. She will receive $20,000 in production funding to create a film project, along with training, mentorship and distribution on Telus Optik TV. The Indigenous Screen Office and Creative B.C. will also provide top-up funding of $3,000 toward the project.

The Indigenous Storyteller Edition was designed to empower and support Indigenous storytellers in Alberta and B.C. It helps tell diverse stories from communities that have a history of being underrepresented and excluded from the film industry.

For more information, go to storyhive.com.

It’s Mental Illness Awareness Week

The first week of October is Mental Illness Awareness Week, when Canadians are encouraged to educate themselves about mental illness or share their experiences with it.

The goal is to remove stigma surrounding mental illness and provide support for those living with it.

The campaign is sponsored by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health, a national non-profit organization comprising 16 member organizations, including the Canadian Mental Health Association.

For more information, go to camimh.ca/miaw.

parrais@timescolonist.com

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