Raising $10,000 for the Forest Trust for the Children of Cortes Island, two reasons why  

‘Giving Tuesday’ is just five days away. The Forest Trust for the Children of Cortes Island Society (FTCCIS) is trying to raise $10,000 for the valuation and assessment which will hopefully lead to their purchasing two parcels of forest. There are actually several components to this story. This morning we are going to talk to two young women involved with the new Children’s Forest Video made for this fund raising drive. 

Kai Harvey: From my understanding, we need the $10,000 for some of the land evaluation pieces,  which needs to happen prior to coming up with a purchase agreement. That’s why we need it now. The Children’s Forest is hoping that this next year there will be some kind of culmination to the negotiations, but we can’t speak to that too much. We’re not on the negotiating team. 

Keria Tsakonas:   This year and the next maybe year or so, is going to be really important for the Children’s Forest,  because of  how much progress we’ve made over the last 10 years. I think  that’s part of the reason why Kai and I re-involved again as adults, because we’ve been involved since the inception of the Children’s Forest and we started to circle back to,  parts of our lives on Cortes that were really fundamental in shaping us into the people that we are.

Cortes Currents: Are you both alumni from 2010?

Kai Harvey: Yes, we are.  Kira and I were both some of the founding youth of the Children’s Forest and spent many hours of our life down there.

Keria Tsakonas: The AGM last year was the first time that we got most of the initial participants with the Children’s Forest back together into the conversation. Really to just signal  we’re still here.  We still care about this.  Just because it’s been 10 years and we’re adults now,  doesn’t mean that  we’re not still actively engaged. 

Kai Harvey: Keira had just joined the board. We were looking at  the website of the Children’s Forest, and discussing how  the next few years are going to be a really important time for the Children’s Forest in terms of the negotiations with Mosaic,  and the potential purchase of these parcels.

We were looking at the website and we were realizing that all of the photos that they have on the website and all the promotional material was almost a decade old.  So  we definitely wanted to find some sort of rejuvenated new piece of media to be able to  tell the story of the Children’s Forest and to promote our fundraising efforts in a more effective way. That was one of the primary motivations for creating this video.  Just me (and) Keira looking at the website and being like, ‘uh oh.’

Cortes Currents: Were there others, or did it literally start with the two of you? 

Kai Harvey: I think it literally did start with just the two of us, but then we reached out to some of our peers. 

We needed to raise funds to be able to hire a videographer. So we tried to do a fundraising campaign, but it wasn’t very effective at first. We were like, I don’t know, a thousand dollars less than what we needed. So, each of us ended up donating a few hundred dollars towards it and our peers as well. It was literally funded pretty much by us.

We volunteered to make the film and then we were able to pay a videographer. We had our filmmaker, Ben Grayzel come up from Vancouver. His company is called Olam Films and he’s based out of Vancouver. 

Keira and I organized an event for a bunch of community members to come down to the Children’s Forest walk and hike down all together.  We did a whole bunch of interviews with different community members.  It was amazing because the group of people that we had there was very diverse. We just had kids of all ages, and elders in our community, and parents.  It was really wonderful to be in such a diverse group of people that live on Cortes and really care about the community and about the Children’s Forest.

Keira Tsakonas: For me,  the process of making the film was almost just as impactful as seeing the film in its end state because I hadn’t been in a space like that in such a long time. The Children’s Forest  really fosters an intergenerational co-learning space. There were so many different types of learning that were happening.  We  walked through  the home steading sites.  That was an interesting introduction to  the Children’s Forest as  a peopled place,  that wasn’t just  a pristine, natural environment. It’s a place that’s been logged before. 

Dan Tucker who’s a moss biologist and really bringing his knowledge and being like, ‘Oh, this place is really ecologically significant.’ There’s so many different ecosystem dynamics that are happening here.  I think just to see the history of youth and relationship that residents have  had with the island for a long time and even before that,  the different nations relationship that was also brought up a bit. So yeah, it was just an interesting day. 

Kai Harvey: It was a really fun process creating the film and  yeah, it felt like very important work.

Keira Tsakonas: When growing up in Cortes, I think a lot of us didn’t really realize how special the community is and how much energy and time and love folks put into a lot of the nonprofits and education and just like everything that creates the community.  Reflecting back on that, it’s something that a lot of us have realized and it’s been a really inspiring process, I think to even just get re-involved .

Kai Harvey and Keira Tsakonas – submitted photo

Kai Harvey: This realization of the importance of Cortes has happened for me on a biological level with  going to school, but then also on a social level with  understanding the value of community based conservation and the resilience of a local community like this. I feel so incredibly proud and  just honoured to be a part of a community that cares so much about each other and about the natural environment around us.  Then on a biological level,  going to school and realizing that  Cortes has all of the sensitive ecosystem types and that we are in the transition zone between two different bio climatic areas, which means that we have opportunities for increased biodiversity here.

 Most of Cortes was logged so we really have very few old growth pockets left and then the mature second growth that are just starting to serve the ecosystem functions of old growth.  I think I’ve just re-realized how significant those things are and how important the Children’s Forest is on an ecological, but then also a social level. Of course I knew that growing up. You feel it in your bones, the importance of a place, you know what I mean?  It’s so amazing to witness that. But then  growing up, I feel  that’s just reaffirmed my love for the Children’s Forest so much more. 

As a Children’s Forest alumni and just a youth that grew up on Cortes, it feels really reciprocal for us to be able to volunteer for this organization and facilitate opportunities for the next generation of youth to have valuable experiences in the forest, just like we did and very formative experiences in the forest as well. All of us realize just how influential it was on our upbringing. So it feels really good to be able to volunteer and  help this land be able to be held in perpetuity for future generations. 

Keira Tsakonas: I think that the social consciousness in BC around logging and protection of old growth forests really signifies that we’re entering a time when both Cortes and the global community needs to really demonstrate that the children’s spaces, like the Children’s Forest are important. 

Kai Harvey: we are at a turning point globally right now in terms of acting on the climate disaster.  One thing that I have learned so far is that the best way to act is to act locally.  To sweep your own doorstep, so to speak. So if we can all contribute to the Children’s Forest and we can protect these lands because of the value they have for  our community and for our global community as well,  in terms of the climate crisis and carbon sequestration and everything, that would be very valuable.  

Keira Tsakonas: I think Giving Tuesday is a really good way to signal that  that is important to you. 

Click here to access the Cortes Children’s Forest Trust donation page

Top image credit: Image from the video.

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