Join me at the Coquitlam Crunch Challenge on Saturday, September 12th

I’ve been climbing the Coquitlam Crunch for over a year now, and I love it as my daily fitness regime when I can get there. I aim to do the Crunch at least 3 times a week, but some weeks I get there 4 or 5 times.  I’ve burned out one pair of runners, and I still love the Crunch!   I decided to help out with a charity event involving the trail last year,  “The Coquitlam Crunch Challenge,” and this year I am even more involved.  I hope you will join me at the 2015 event.

Here’s the official event press release:

The sixth annual Coquitlam Crunch ‘Diversity’ Challenge is set for Saturday, September 12th, 2015, and raises funds for community grants that promote diversity awareness, respect and integration. The Challenge is held at The Coquitlam Crunch trail, which follows a route along the B.C. Hydro cut line and offers a great workout, and unobstructed views of the surrounding area including Mount Baker, Washington. The Crunch is a less intense version of the Grouse Grind and the 2.2km trail starts below Lansdowne Drive and finishes at Eagle Mountain Drive. The average round trip (walking) takes about an hour. In early 2014 the City of Coquitlam helped make the trail safer by putting in the 437 new stairs along the steepest section.

The event was created in 2010 by local resident, Alex Bell and his family. Last year the event raised well over $4000 for the Community Diversity Fund (held and administered by the Coquitlam Foundation) which provides grants to Tri-Cities’ individuals, non-profit organizations, or community groups initiating actions, programs or education aimed at improving integration and participation by diversity groups, identified by the community as being socially or financially marginalized.

This year’s event will have a new shortened 4-hour format, versus last year’s 10 hours. “For those returning to the event, the news of the 4-hour format for 2015 may come as a surprise,”said event founder, Alex Bell.  “Due to circumstances beyond our control, we had two choices this year; either to postpone the event one-year, or to put out a shorter format with less categories.”

“We are preparing for a larger event in 2016 coinciding with Coquitlam 125th birthday, which will have at least 4 categories,” said Alex Bell. “We know people have been training for the 10-hour format, but our hands are tied. The 4-hour format is still a fitness challenge and adds more of a speed component.”

The Challenge on September 12th can be competitive or simply for fun. It’s a great family event, open to anyone of any athletic ability.  There are two ways you can participate:

1. The “Make it or Break” category for the die hard Crunchers. Participants walk or run the trail as many times as possible in a 4-hour period between 8am to 12 noon. Matt Sessions holds the 2012 (12-hour) record of 17 sets (which he repeated in 2014) when there was 12-hours allowed for this category. Register online or on the day at 7:30am.

2. The “Recreational” category for individuals or families who can walk the Crunch at least once. Start time is formally at 10am, but people may arrive and participate any time between 8:30am and 12 noon. Register online or on the day.

Water and sports drinks will be available free for participants. Preregistration is underway at

Optional donations for participants is suggested at $20 for adults, $10 for youth or $40 per family, however no donation of any amount will be refused, and participation is welcomed without the requirement of a donation. (Donations can also be made directly at by clicking on the Donate Now button and selecting “Coquitlam Diversity Fund” from the drop-down menu.) A food box will be on site for the SHARE food bank, which tends to be very low at this time of the year, and participants are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item.

In 2015, the Coquitlam Diversity Fund generated its first grant to the Tri-Cities Brain Injury Support Group to help fund social interaction and community recreational opportunities for brain injury survivors.

Volunteers and sponsors make it happen! Sponsorship opportunities are always available and appreciated. Already supporting for 2015 is New Earth Marketing, Eagle Ridge GM, Pasta Polo, MaxFit Movement Institute, and 98.7 CKPM FM Tri-City Radio. Event organizers are looking for people to assist with site set up, registration, water stations, verification stations, parking, ensuring safe road crossings along the route, as well as the tear down of tents and tables. If you can help please email

“Although I started the event, my intention was for it to become a community-driven one,” said Bell who has seen the event grow exponentially, and each year a variety of local businesses and volunteers have stepped up to offer their help.  “Please come out and support this worthwhile cause!”

Building up to the event, Alex Bell will lead a recreational guided hike up the Crunch and beyond to Ridge Park Bluffs on Sunday, August 30th. This 3-hour hike will start at the Coquitlam Crunch parking lot at 8:00 am and is for anyone capable of walking up the Crunch. The 8-km route will circle back to the parking lot and will offer amazing views over the lower mainland. All are welcome, and it is suggested to bring water and a camera. Queries about the hike, or the Challenge can be directed to

See you at the Crunch!

Fashion Show to Raise Funds for Canada’s Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women

Aboriginal beauty and 2015 Mrs. Universe, Ashley Callingbull, will grace the runway at Fashion Speaks, a show to raise funds and awareness for families of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls of Canada on September 16, 2015 in Kamloops, BC. Ashley Callingbull will be vying for Mrs. Universe in Belarus this August.

A  fundraising fashion show called Fashion Speaks set to raise funds and awareness for Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women, Girls and Families of Canada will take place on Wednesday evening, September 16th at the Kamloops Indian Band Powwow Grounds in Kamloops, BC.   A four directions runway will showcase Aboriginal couture fashions, footwear, and accessories.

Designers to be featured are: Earthline Contemporary Aboriginal; Fashions by Shannon Kilroy; Cree Nisgaa Clothing by Linda Lava; First Lady by Jill Setah; Rev/Evo Designs by Nadine Spence; Ab-original Threadz by Teresa Walker; Ringing Bell Robes by Lyn Kay; Touch of Culture by Pam Baker; and Timeless Shadows by Tracey George Heese.

Chief Shane Gottfriedson is said to be providing the welcome, and other speakers will include Diena Jules, the RCMP among others yet to be announced. The event will also feature designer/artists sales booths, information tables, and displays.  A silent auction will be held, with items donated items from across North America.

Ashley Callingbull who  represented Canada in the 2015 Mrs. Universe pageant and won will be the special guest model and there are opportunities for both male and female models to participate. Organizers are seeking volunteers to assist with the event.

The event Facebook page states that the Fashion Speaks event will:

Speak to all our thoughts of hope and wishes for a better future, for our aboriginal females, babies, girls, youth and elders,

Speak by remembering the loss of so many of our aboriginal women and girls gone missing and murdered, and their families,

Speak to us all of every nationality and gender to work together as family, community and as Nations to protect our women and girls of Canada.

Speak to all four directions and the creator to protect us all and to support each-other on this journey to be treated with respect on our mother land.

Speak to ourselves to be honoured and proud to be aboriginal, that we can all make a difference and change for a healthier future, we are all worth it.

More information and applications for the event can be found at or contact Kim Coltman of Headhunters Hair-salon and Wellness Center by email

Organizers say they  are proud and honoured to have partnered with the Kamloops Indian Band, His & Her Photography, Main Street Clothing, The Zoo Ice Cream Parlor, CIFM-FM, CKBZ-FM, and CFJC TV.  All proceeds will go to Families of Sisters in Spirit

A Sweetings Cay Treasure


Rosetta-Cartwright-No-WatermarkWhen I used to live in Grand Bahama Island and well before my work on my newsletter or, I was always taking photos no matter where I went. I am not sure if it’s my desire to record my life, and those of the people I love, or the example my mother led documenting much of our lives in photos (which was rare in those days). I grew up with a wall full of photo albums all in date order, my mom was that organized.

The beauty of taking so many photos is that one day they become treasures.

I was going through my online photos the other day and came upon a Sweetings Cay album. Tony Macaroni’s Conch Experience runs excursions out there and I went out several times with my children or with visiting friends. I was looking through the photo thumbnails and something made me zoom in. “Is that the current Miss World Bahamas, Rosetta Cartwright!?” I thought staring at the photo of children playing barefoot on the road in a plastic car?

For those that do not know, Sweetings Cay is a quaint little fishing village located 55 miles east of Freeport, Grand Bahama only accessible by boat and has a population of @ 400 people, “most of whom live by selling lobster and conch in Freeport. The village stretches about a mile, and there people walk or use golf carts to get around.”

I sent the photo to a mutual friend and he checked with her, and yes indeed it was her! …and guess what!? She said it is the only photo she has of her childhood as all her others were ruined in the storms (I assume the hurricanes). She asked if I had any more, and I looked again and found one other, one of her on a day I visited and school was in session and they were on lunch break.

I remember her as a special-spirited child and of course so striking to look at – her eyes I remember most. Rosetta hails from a small fishing village and became Miss World Bahamas.

I’m glad I was able to gift her a tiny piece of her childhood.

(Photos at top: The reigning 2014-15 Miss World Bahamas, Rosetta Cartwright and the two photos I took in Sweetings Cay many years ago that I sent her today. She said she thinks she was 6 years old.)

Summer Wanes…


A sign of things to come…

I love living in British Columbia, and I love living so close to nature.

I go for walks most days, often twice and living next to a forest, it’s easy to be in tune with the changing seasons.

Walking with my mother in the woods the other day we were discussing how you can walk down a trail one way and when you walk back it looks entirely different.  Not just the trail itself, but everything you see along the way. Add to that the lighting, dependent on the time of day, the weather and the seasons.

I am so much into nature these days  that I revel in every little change, excited like a young child.

I had to stop to capture this photo of three  leaves changing colour. The center leaf is almost entirely  red, and the ones on either side of it are wonderfully on their way, and only half red; looking almost as if someone painted them down one side only.

“As the bright green fades away, we begin to see yellow (red) and orange colors. Small amounts of these colors have been in the leaves all along. We just can’t see them in the summer, because they are covered up by the green chlorophyll.”  –

Although spring is my favourite time of year, fall is definitely a close second. I am looking forward to autumn’s magnificence!


Robbin Whachell lives in Coquitlam, BC and is a volunteer for the local watershed society. In her spare time she likes to hike The Crunch and  explore her community by taking photos and sharing her thoughts on what she sees.

Creator of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge supports ALS BC event


ONE AMAZING DAY! I have to think that life is taking care of itself, when things happen for me that seem to be divine providence.

I have had a friend named James for 30 years (in messy photo), and he is from BC, Canada, and lived in Bahamas with his wife during the time we also lived there, and now lives in the USA.

He grew up here so comes to visit his dad, and I am grateful as that is when we get to reconnect time and again.

The cool things is, when I told him my brother has ALS, he said, “wow, my best friend is part of the ALS Society of BC.” (!) AND they are both named James… best buds, so you have Jimbo 1 and Jimbo 2… as ‘they’ call each other affectionately.

When I met Jimbo 2 via Jimbo 1 a few weeks ago he told me about the upcoming anniversary event for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and asked me to join them.

My brother has had ALS for 6 years now, so of course I was going! On the day of the event in Steveston, Richmond, BC, Canada I was SHOCKED to see the creator of the ALS Challenge, Pat Quinn (who is from Yonkers, NY and is seen with me in the photo top right), was at the event! This is the man, who has ALS himself, and who changed the lives of MILLIONS of ALS sufferers and their families 1 year ago with this challenge that went viral. ALS is a sickness that very few knew about, but Pat Quinn, gave everyone a voice. It was ‘a MIRACLE’ as Pat said today to local news.

After the event which was captured by a drone video, I met and spoke with Pat Quinn. When I thanked him for coming and for creating the Challenge, I started to cry because this viral event changed my brother’s life, and mine.  When Pat spoke in front of the crowd, he said last year was a miracle. It sure was!

Today, I RECOMMITTED, and I will do this every year until there’s a cure for ALS! Please join us by donating and sharing the message.

Global News TV Coverage here:

AND if you want to view ALL my photos from today, click his link:

ps. We used Rice Crispies today due to drought conditions, and were featured on Global BC News. The video, taken by a drone is below.

Here’s a clip of my 2014 ALS Challenge video, but look out for a new one coming soon.…/als-ice-bucket-challenge-retur…/

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Returns!

I am excited to hear about this anniversary event for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!

My brother has had ALS for over 6 years, and last year’s viral campaign made a huge difference to the lives of those suffering with ALS, bringing much awareness about what these individuals and their families are dealing with.

While I was devastated when I heard my brother was diagnosed, his progress over the years has strengthened my spirit, taught me to never give up ,  to value each day, and cherish our loved ones while they are alive.

The 2015 Academy-Award winning movie, The Theory of Everything, about the life of Stephen Hawking, was another great moment last year, as the film breaks a  lot of the stigma and boundaries imposed on persons with ALS. This film brought me even more hope for my brother.  It’s a new day for ALS, and a cure is achievable. If Hawking can still be living in his 70s after being diagnosed in his 20s,  then my brother has an excellent chance to also lead a long and productive life!

Here’s the press release from the ALS Society of BC:

While generous Canadians cooled themselves with buckets of ice and issued challenges to others, the lives of people living with ALS were dramatically changed unprecedented investments into ALS research and practical patient care.

It has been a year since the inception of the immensely popular ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The popularity of the viral campaign has brought the fight for a cure to the forefront of news and social media platforms across the globe.

As the largest media campaign in history, according to Facebook, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge resulted in over 17 million videos, generating more than 10 billion views. The money raised from last year’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is increasing the speed at which drugs are going to clinical trial and improving quality of life for those living with ALS.

Even with the tremendous success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, ALS is still not a treatable disease, yet. Every August Until A Cure.

Beginning August 6th of this year, the ALS Society of BC, in partnership with ALS Societies across Canada, will mark the anniversary of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Reporting back to the donors and participants of the 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on how the funds have been invested in Canada, as well as the need for additional support in finding a cure for ALS.

This year’s event will start yet another wave of support and awareness for this debilitating disease.

Join the ALS Society of BC, along with dignitaries and special guests, on Thursday, August 6th, at Garry Point Park, 12011 Seventh Avenue, in Richmond at 11:00AM as we celebrate and begin the second wave of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Co-founder of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Pat Quinn will be there, as will ALS researchers and the ALS Society of BC.

Due to drought conditions in British Columbia, and to conserve water, we encourage everyone to recycle their 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos by sending them to The ALS Society of BC will compile all videos to air at the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge celebration held at Garry Point Park on August 6th at 11:00AM.

To activate the second wave, we encourage everyone to come up with an innovative idea for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, minus the water. Don’t forget to bring your bucket, filled with ideas, on August 6th! Need some suggestions, people have already generated amazing ideas, including flower peddles, empty bucket, ice cream, and cold hard cash!

Visit our ALS Ice Bucket Challenge website for more information about the event and how you can help support people affected by ALS:

All Nations Festival celebrates an inclusive Coast Salish Territory


Creating our shared heritage and vision for the future 

I was very interested when I found out that an All Nations Festival was to take place in Coquitlam where I live, and only blocks from my home. I immediately went to Facebook to learn more.  The 3-day-long event was said to celebrate Coast Salish culture, art, and language from July 23rd through 25th in Kwikwetlem, (Coquitlam) which is part of the Coast Salish Territories. It also was to include the other cultures living in the area.

After living abroad for many years I am new to much of the indigenous territories and culture, and I learned that  the Coast Salish Territory includes a lot of the  Georgia Basin and Puget, and this huge drainage basin comprises of the coastal mainland and Vancouver Island from Campbell River and the Georgia Strait south through the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Lower Fraser Valley, and the lowlands of Puget Sound. I’ve been volunteering with the Hoy -Scott Watershed Society in my area for the past year so all these land details are of great interest to me.

The event was hosted around beautiful Lafarge Lake in Coquitlem / Kwikwetlem (Photo: Robbin Whachell)

But back to my All Nations Festival experience… 2015 is the inaugural year, and the annual festival aims to celebrate a Coast Salish cultural resurgence by bringing together the performing and visual arts, music, food, sports and ideas honouring a shared future.

Hereditary Chief Phil Lane Jr. Ihanktonwan of the Dakota and Chickasaw Nation (who is a visitor to these lands and is seen in my feature image at the top) spoke about the Tsleil Waututh Nation “People of the Inlet” and how at one time there were 10,000 people in the area, before a series of small pox epidemics in the last century. He spoke about inclusion as he stood before the Persian group ready to perform at the event in front of artist Sonny Assu “Enjoy Coast Salish Territory” artwork. I captured a short clip of his remarks HERE.

The 3-day Festival program opened on Thursday July 23rd with the Kwikwetlem /kəˈlōkwēəm/ Colloquium hosted by Douglas College. I was unable to attend due to my work, but tuned in via livestream.   If you missed it, you can now watch the Colloquium here. The colloquium’s  aim was to share the work of professional Indigenous artists, academics and researchers in Coast Salish Territory through programming, education, outreach, and networking.  The discussions were very interesting.

George Leach put on an amazing show!
George Leach put on an amazing show at the Evergreen Cultural Centre (Photo: Robbin Whachell)

Thursday evening the entertainment kicked off with an intimate concert, which my daughter and I attended at Evergreen Cultural Centre,  with none other than the first aboriginal Lieutenant Governor of B.C., Steven Point, who performed a number of songs he’d written in his younger days. They were lighthearted and teleported us back to earlier days in Vancouver. Point opened for Juno award-winner George Leach,  a Stl’atl’imx and Kwikwetlem musician and actor.   We learned George is also a great-great grandson of Chief Kwekwetlem.  One concert goer said, “This may have been the best concert I have ever seen…I’ve got 5 words for George and his band’s performance: pure, smooth, honest, funny, and enjoyable…what an incredible voice and refreshing personality, some very heartfelt tributes were endearing as well!”

Friday the colloquium continued with a Coast Salish Leaders’ Roundtable on Shared Environmental Stewardship, and a keynote address was delivered by awarding-winning author, teacher and grandmother, Professor Lee Maracle, from the Sto:lo and Tsleil Waututh Nations.  Listen to her speak about her work and the festival on CBC radio HERE.  Each day the colloquium included plenary, breakout sessions, panel discussions, art exhibition, traditional foods, performances, and dialogue with leading Indigenous scholars, professional and community artists, and cultural leaders.

Just a few of the Colloquium speakers
Just a few of the Colloquium speakers. Left to right: Charlene Aleck, Lee Maracle and Ronnie Dean Harris.

Pulling our best thread forward from our past, and taking it into the future – Lee Maracle, author, activist on the focus of the event to CBC radio.

Friday featured an evening of ideas and spoken word from one of the foremost experts in Coast Salish history and culture. More entertainment was provided on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon and evening at the outdoor festival  held by Lafarge Lake at Town Centre Park which also included engaging talks, a salmon and bison burger barbecue, kids corner, crafts and displays. Aside from sharing dialogue,  the outdoor locations provided the general public loads of activity, sights and sounds on stages, under tents, and by displays, which attracted many Coquitlam residents that just happened to be out for  a walk.

The backdrop of Lafarge lake and the mountains made for a beautiful venue, even with the intermittent cloudy weather. A heron flew over and in the late afternoon the Canada geese, who had been grazing on the adjacent lawns took flight over the tents into the evening sky.

I enjoyed the ‘Idea Tent’ featuring speakers from the festival’s steering committee and special guests. It was refreshing to hear about moving forward as a people who care about each other and our land, without a political party agenda attached. Topics included First Nations rights, pipelines, racism, reconciliation and more. One common idea was echoed through the weekend however, that being, that the Harper Government had to be outed at the next election.

Photos courtesy of the All Nations Festival

What I was most impressed with was that the First Nation’s speakers never excluded themselves from others, but rather spoke about the connectedness of humanity, no matter our origins, or religious beliefs. They kept hitting home that we had to work together to protect our environment for our future generations, and really if we don’t have that, what are we left with?  The event also included a  green energy fair featuring electric cars, solar panels and more.

One of my favourite features was a beautiful art piece showcased in the food tent  (see below) called ‘Our Painted Responsibilities’ coordinated by artist, Melanie Schambach along with Nati Garcia and Jen Castro.  Like this woman seen in my photo, people stood in awe to take it all in, as it represents so much, and it also encapsulated the spirit of the event. You can learn about the artwork in this video HERE.

I was told that “this mobile mural was an extension to the 2014 Totem Pole Journey, where a 20-foot-long totem pole carved by Lummi Indian Master Carver Jewell James travelled with his family 6,000 miles along proposed fossil fuel export routes to honor, unite and empower communities in the destructive path of coal and oil exports.”

"From the Columbia River Basin west to the Salish Sea and back east to the Alberta tar sands, the mural offered a space to listen, witness, and express. Youth, elders, activists, students, educators, researchers, healers, artists, indigenous and non-indigenous people, migrants, and impacted communities reflected through paint on our day-to-day connection with mother earth, and our shared responsibilities to protect her." (Photo: Robbin Whachell)
“From the Columbia River Basin west to the Salish Sea and back east to the Alberta tar sands, the mural offered a space to listen, witness, and express. Youth, elders, activists, students, educators, researchers, healers, artists, indigenous and non-indigenous people, migrants, and impacted communities reflected through paint on our day-to-day connection with mother earth, and our shared responsibilities to protect her.” Coordinating artist, Melanie Schambach (Photo: Robbin Whachell)

The All Nation’s event offered a lot over the three days! On top of the engaging dialogue and visual arts displays there  were performances by Doug and the Slugs; Bill Henderson, rapper and activist Ronnie Dean Harris (Ostwelve),  DJs including DJ Hedspin, Hip hop artists, Persian dancers, the Vashaan Ensemble, and many others. Add in sports with skateboarding, basketball 3-on-3s, ball hockey, volleyball, and the Coast Salish Lacrosse Challenge.

I certainly look forward to next year!

Check out the video below to see some of what was featured. If you would like to obtain more information,  become involved by exhibiting, performing, sponsoring or volunteering, learn more at:

The 2015 All Nations Festival was hosted by Douglas College and the Kwikwetlem and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.  It was produced by Coquitlam School District Aboriginal Education, Coast Salish Cultural Network, and Tsleil-Waututh Nation; and supported by Kwikwetlem First Nation, Douglas College, City of Coquitlam, with additional support from Vancouver Indigenous Media Arts Festival, and various program partners. Steering Committee: Lee Maracle, Charlene Aleck, Gabriel George, Ronnie Dean Harris, Cease Wyss, Brandon Gabriel, Rueben George. Irwin Oostindie (ex-officio member).

Funding was provided by Canada Council, City of Coquitlam, Telus, Vancity, Coquitlam School District #43 Aboriginal Education, Tsleil-Waututh Nation, and Aboriginal Sport BC, and community donations.

About the author: Robbin Whachell lives in Coquitlam, BC and is a volunteer for the local watershed society. In her spare time she likes to hike The Crunch and  explore her community by taking photos and sharing her thoughts on what she sees.