Though the Cortes Island Community Foundation (CICF) only recently came into being, and is currently applying for charitable status. It is already an important voice on Cortes Island. In 2018/2019, CICF partnered with the Cortes Island Seniors Society to raise over $1 million dollars for the housing development widely known as Rainbow Ridge. On September 28th, 2019, the Cortes Foundation brought together more than 50 people from 30 organizations for the first Cortes Social Profit (not-for-profit) sector meeting. On May 12, the Cortes Foundation applied for a $50,000 SRD grant.
Letter To Chair Michele Babchuk
Deepa Narayan, President of the Cortes Foundation, wrote Strathcona Regional District (SRD) Chair Michele Babchuk:
“Over the past few months, the Cortes Island Community has mobilized. Through extensive and on going online discussions, community members are working to respond to immediate needs as well as sowing the seeds for future, long term, self-sufficiency. We, CICF are receiving requests from community organizations that add up to over $200,000 just from a couple of organizations, thoughtful proposals.”
“As a community foundation, we focus on philanthropy and community directed giving. We wish to start by giving small grants to island NGO’s as expediently and transparently as possible.”
“On April 27th, we convened a Zoom consultation meeting; inviting all the Cortes Social Profit organizations to send representatives. This meeting built upon four consultative “town hall meetings” recently convened virtually on the island, along with the Social Profit Forum held in September by CICF (see attached document). At present there is a feeling of trust and momentum built up on Cortes Island for work for the common good. The ability to provide funds quickly at this time will ensure that trust and focus does not dissipate.”
Identified Cortes Island Priorities
“Community groups identified the following four island priorities:
- Local food security and food processing facilities – increasing our capacity to survive disruptions in food supply chains and to successfully process the seasonal abundance of food on the island.
- A community consultative process – the cost of gathering people and identifying priority needs is not cost free, and many get excluded either because they are not active in organizations or do not have access to technology. There is demand for an efficient digital platform that is user friendly, and accessible to all community members.”
- Youth engagement ‐ Many more young people are on the island now (since COVID 19) and there are no programs that harness their skills for the greater community good and meet their unique needs. There is a coalition of organizations/individuals developing a simple strategy for grant giving to support youth on Cortes.
- Mental and emotional wellbeing ‐ mental health is an issue paramount the world over, and Cortes is no exception. Dealing with uncertainty and social isolation is difficult, and it is straining the wellbeing of even the most resilient.
What Happens Next?
This letter goes before the Strathcona Regional District Board at their Wednesday, May 27, 2020 Meeting.
Their first action will be to vote on whether to receive Ms Narayan’s letter as correspondence. There have been occasions where items have been refused. Should none of the directors even second the motion to receive this letter, it can actually disappear from the public record.
That said, the Cortes Island Community Foundation’s letter will most likely be received.
Whether the SRD Board will also recognize it as an application remains to be seen. Most applications are brought forward by the area’s Regional Director. As this is a Cortes Island matter, Noba Anderson would have presented it to the Electoral Areas Services Committee.
The SRD published Ms Narayan’s letter as correspondence. As such, it can simply be archived on their website.
While we can glimpse a little of what transpires when the minutes of the meeting are published, late in the afternoon of Friday, May 29, this is little more than a record of motions and votes.
The only way to find out what actually happens at SRD Board meetings is to watch the video recordings. Putting these up on the SRD website does not appear to be a top priority. The last one went up eight days after the meeting.
Top photo credit: The grass/gravel runway surface at Cortes Island, formerly Hansen’s Airfield by Sancho McCann via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)