Tag Archives: BC

Green Embassy of Australia highlights B.C. First Nation’s plight with Kinder Morgan

Australian designer Kuvan- Mills with the great-grandchildren of Chief Dan George of Tsleil-Waututh Nation, BC, Canada. (Photo left by Arun Nevader / photo right by Dustin Photography)

Vancouver, B.C. — World Water Week has just concluded and although many events took place around the world close to rivers, oceans and streams, the fashion runway may be one of the last places on people’s minds when it comes to water and conservation.  Enter Zuhal Kuvan-Mills from Australia and her Green Embassy ‘ Empty Oceans’ collection…

Environmental activist, fashion designer and artist Kuvan-Mills believes art and fashion impact our emotions and can move us to value our blue planet. Currently supporting the world’s leading direct action ocean conservation organization, Sea Shepherd (Australia) she said she was compelled to return to west-coast Canada for Vancouver Fashion Week after hearing about the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion and its threat to local waters.  This is the Perth designer’s fourth time down the runway of Vancouver Fashion Week, and her Empty Ocean’s collection is in perfect sync with water conservation, and she wanted to share that with the Vancouver audience.

Zuhal Kuvan-Mills wears a Sea Shepherd Australia t-shirt with her models at Vancouver Fashion Week on March 26, 2017 (Photo: Dustin Photography)


“Vancouver has such a rich and beautiful coastline that should be protected for generations to come. I know that the First Peoples of its territory are as connected to their land and water,”  said Kuvan-Mills who connected with Charlene Aleck of Tsleil-Waututh First Nation during her stay.  Aleck’s daughter Ocean and granddaughter Maya, ad her niece Jasmine were asked to walk the runway.  The three, are the great (and great-great) grandchildren of a the late native leader, Chief Dan George.  The Tsleil-Waututh Nation is a Coast Salish band whose Indian reserve is located on Burrard Inlet in the southeast area of the District of North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

The Green Embassy runway show opened with a poignant video by Conservation International which reminded us of the beauty of the ocean, and why we need her. As the video closed,  the First Nation youth walked together down the runway in their traditional regalia covered by one large fishing net.

Maya, Ocean, and Jasmine of Tsleil-Waututh Nation on the runway for Green Embassy’s “Empty Oceans” collection at Vancouver Fashion Week (Photo: Arun Nevader)

“I am grateful to the work of Zuhal Kuvan-Mills,” said Charlee Aleck, who is an elected Councillor for her nation after the runway show, “‘Empty Oceans’ brings awareness to how we are treating/polluting our oceans, and the state of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. She shares our concern and the imminent threats to our salmon bearing rivers and Salish Sea from the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion. ‘What will we leave our children?’ Empty nets?” continued Aleck. “I feel truly blessed to have met this beautiful soul, the passion Zuhal has put into this very important message – water is life!”

“I aim to support and help indigenous communities across the world,” says Zuhal. “The children under the fishing net represents the future of the First Nations, they are being destroyed by all types of abuse and destruction to oceans,” said Kuvan-Mills. “Black coloured fish net was selected to represent death and destruction to the natural environment (coastal waters) for First Nations. It was also over the children like a black cloud as now they are under great danger of losing their coastal waters to pollution with yet another Kinder Morgan pipeline.”

(Photos: Dustin Photography)


It is her hope to create a collaborative event between the First Peoples of both Canada and Australia whereupon dance, music, fashion and the arts can be shared.

Models graced the runway to a mix of sounds of First Nation drumbeats and Aboriginal didgeridoo. Fabrics were soft and flowing like water, in blues and ocean colours, or light and creamy like the sand and sea. Bow-ties, bows, sashes or sleeves were made from re-purposed fishing net remnants. Some dresses were made of recycled polyester sourced from trash, plastic bottles, ad drift / ghost fishing nets. There was the lightest of silk pieces that whispered down the runway, while the woven items were strong and edgy like the ocean’s coral and shells, or soft and warm like the sun’s reflection on the shoreline.

The fabric of many of the coats, jackets, hats and vests were collected, hand spun, processed and dyed by Kuvan-Mills herself on her farm in Perth where she raises alpacas, a domesticated species of South American camelid, similar to the llama. Her dyes are made from vegetation, like flowers, leaves, or vegetables, finding inspiration within the textile crafting traditions of ancient times.

(Photos by Arun Nevader)


Green Embassy is Australia’s first internationally recognized organic fashion label who base their work on the protection of nature, and natural resources, while focusing on bringing public attention and education to environmental issues.

In November 2017, Kuvan-Mills will launch the inaugural Australia Eco Fashion Week in Perth. During her stay in Vancouver she explained her methods at Kwantlen University and Blanche Macdonald, and met with many designers, to inspire them to turn toward ‘slow fashion’ and join her for the event.

Green Embassy has been seen on the runway in Paris, London, Beijing and Vancouver, and with more and more concern being placed on fast fashion and the environment, Kuvan-Mills is quickly becoming a sought after guest speaker, and has been interviewed for television on SBS World News and national radio on ABC, Australia. In 2016, the Empty Oceans collection caught the attention of Pamela Anderson, who has her own foundation to help environmental causes.

Real people – non models wear Green Embassy at Vancouver Fashion Week. (Photos by Arun Nevader)


Kuvan-Mills’ commitment to sustainability, organic agriculture, art and slow fashion is expressed in each extraordinary textile piece as a labour of love.

I am so very proud to be connected to this show and that my daughters were able to walk for this amazing designer who has so much heart, passion and vision… I look forward to visiting her  in Australia.

(Photos by Arun Nevader)


Listen to a short clip of the designer talking about her dying process at a Vancouver media event.

Watch video of part of the finale walk on the runway at VFW.

Me wearing Green Embassy at Vancouver Fashion Week. The show was on my birthday on March 26! In the photo taken by Victoria Clements I am holding a Harl Taylor BAG made from natural fibres from The Bahamas. The photo on right is the same vest for a photo I included in my article “Am I Anti-Pipeline” written on my blog about my thoughts around pipelines. It was taken on Burrard Inlet where I dragon boat and where the Kinder Morgan station is.

Read  Am I Anti-Pipeline?


Connect with Green Embassy:

greenembassy.com.au/

facebook.com/greenembassyfashion

twitter.com/greenembassyau

Winter morning in the forest…

On my morning walk along Hoy Creek Trail, after checking on the salmon at Hoy Creek Hatchery this morning I was blessed to witness this sight.  I just love light coming through the trees. It’s magical…

This very old stump above is a favourite spot for photos any time of year and children can even climb within this stump.

I love the colourful contrast of white snow on this bright green moss.

snow-on-moss-tree

The forest was alive with the sounds of chickadees, and I was pleased to capture this little black-capped chickadee hopping along a moss-covered tree branch chirping and nibbling.

 

Parenting Our Parents

I moved back to Canada from the Bahamas in late summer 2011; and before winter 2012, I moved my mother in with me.  She was not thrilled about living in the Vancouver area because she doesn’t like the damp climate.

“I’ve raised seven children; been butchered up by the doctors after being in the hospital sixteen times,” she likes to remind us, even though seven of those times were to deliver babies. “Vancouver weather just makes my bones ache.”

But  mom agreed to move in with me anyway, and we were living in a high rise on the 33rd floor.   “The bird cage,” she quickly dubbed it.  She loved the views, the sunrises, but hated everything else about it.  All that said, mom’s health improved week by week, likely due to the regular and varied meals we made, and the love received by her grandchildren.  She didn’t like going out much, and I’m no sure if it was the high rise life that was foreign to her, but the woman I knew as my mother always had a gypsy adventurous spirit and it killed me to see her be so idle while I worked on the computer during the day.

That Christmas she went to ‘visit’ her sister in Edmonton for two weeks and flew the coop by refusing to return.  I can’t say I was surprised.

On a warm May day in 2015 walking through Hoy Trail in Coquitlam. I took mom on a walk through the woods and she said, "This spot is so beautiful you should take a picture."
On a warm May day in 2015 walking through Hoy Trail in Coquitlam. I took mom on a walk through the woods and she said, “This spot is so beautiful you should take a picture.”

Mom only lasted two weeks with her big sister and then moved in with a girlfriend.  She stayed there in Edmonton, ended up in the interior of BC for a bit with another girlfriend, and went back to Edmonton until 2015. In 2014 she put herself into the hospital at one point, and the doctors found nothing wrong with her. It was hard to deal with as we wanted her in BC, but she refused to come, and refused to live with her friend again.  The doctors suggested they find senior housing for her. The wait was a few months, and I know it was hard on her.

Finally a place came up in downtown Edmonton, and my sister and I went out to set mom up in her new home. We went out and shopped and got it all ready for her, even buying her new clothes. The seniors facility had all the amenities and no cooking was allowed in her room. Thank goodness as she had been starting to leave pots on stoves, etc.

It wasn’t long before mom said she didn’t like their food, and didn’t’ seem to engage in any of the social activities they had on every day. I could tell when I called she was depressed.  All of her children, live in BC except my brother who lives in Edmonton, but has ALS and lives in long-term care.  If anything urgent were to happen with mom’s health, we’d have to fly in. I continued to express my concern about this with her.   Finally mom agreed to move to B.C. but wanted to live in Abbotsford instead of Vancouver, as she assumed it gets less rain.

Made with love! Every morning I put out breakfast for mom. Home made steel cut oats with raisins and flax; some kefir; coconut milk, stewed prunes; and her vitamins. She's only on one medication for her high blood pressure. Mom is always served first at any of our meals.
Made with love! Every morning I put out breakfast for mom. Home made steel cut oats with raisins and flax; some kefir; coconut milk, stewed prunes; and her vitamins. She’s only on one medication for her high blood pressure. Mom is always served first at any of our meals.

We found the best seniors home in our budget and were able to get her in when we wanted.  My brother drove out to get her things and put her on the plane.  This was the spring of 2015.  Within only weeks at her new place in Abbotsford, mom was complaining about the food, and the staff. She was mostly upset that the units had only walk-in showers and no bathtubs. She’s been a bathtub girl her entire life.   Again, I could hear the depression setting in, although I was driving out to visit her one day a week, bringing her home on a weekend overnights, as was my brother who lives in Abbotsford.

Then our roommate moved out of our home, and  in my heart of hearts I knew my mother should be with me.  I talked to my siblings about it first.  We all agreed she had to stick out 3 months at the seniors home first, so she would understand her actions better and have time to assimilate the transition into my home .

When I asked her if she’d move in with me again, she burst into tears. “I thought you’d never ask me again, after living with you the last time,” she said.   She stuck out the 3 months and moved in with me last year in September.

This Friday mom turns 83 and she’s finally calling our place ‘home.’ She stopped answering the phone saying, “Robbin’s place” and now just says, “Good afternoon.”

Mom’s been institutionalized, and expected meals to be on time, at certain times, even though I told her she’s living with family now and we are all busy.  Things will not always be on time, and she’ll have to learn to go with our flow. We still have to remind her of this.

Out for a walk in February 2015. After winter she was not wanting to walk much, so I had to get out with her to get her back in the swing of daily walks.
Out for a walk in February 2015. After winter she was not wanting to walk much, so I had to get out with her to get her back in the swing of daily walks.

She’s eased up a lot, and her health is getting better and better, although her short term memory has not improved much.  She’s begun sharing her stories (over and over as she forgets), and has also begun going through some of her things like photographs, and has starting giving them as gifts.  I truly believe that if we care for and live with (or near) our parents, this is how our family stories get passed from generation to generation.

I started writing about mom under the hashtag #parentingourparents on Facebook, and since we baby boomers are all taking care of, or assisting our parents in their final years, my writing seems to  strike a chord with those either dealing with similar, or those who appreciate the insight of what to expect.  Some of my writing is touched with sadness, but much of it  is laced with irony, laughter, and a lot of love.

Taking care of my mother is the least I can do. I am lucky she is still in great health and has her mobility.  It is now her time to rest, reflect, share her stories and enjoy life, the way she wants to.   I often want for her to enjoy life the way I think would be best for her … and she quickly lets it be known if those ideas are going to work for her, or not.

She’s one stubborn woman, but then so am I…

Mom woke up very late yesterday... and seemed to be in a zombie state. I had breakfast laid out and she told me she was going for a walk. "Before breakfast?" I asked. She went on her way, and I thought she must be mad at me for something...? She came back in and said, "Oh a bear got into the garbage cans last night. I hardly slept." I guess she didn't want to wake me up. I went out and sure enough our bins were knocked over. They are right outside her bedroom window. At least she wasn't mad at me :P Later I took her for a walk by Lafarge Lake and we only got as far as the first park bench and she said she had to stop because she was so tired. I hold mom's hand these days, as it gives her that extra security when we walk. "If you don't slow down, you'll have to carry me," she says every time. I left her watching the ducks and did a fast walk on my own. She slept like a log last night :) #parentingourparents #bearscare
Mom sitting in the park at Town Centre, Coquitlam overlooking LaFarge Lake. She was tired because a bear got into our garbage the night before. I did the lake loop on my own.

Here’s one of my favourite #ParentingOurParents pieces from 2015:

Tucking in my 82 year old mother the other night after putting in her eye drops from her cataract removal, I gave her a little squeeze, and she said, “Oh my that feels good. I don’t get many hugs these day.”
Then she said, “Thanks for taking such good care of me.” I turned out her light and held back some tears on the way to my bedroom. #ParentingourParents

[To find more of my #parentingourparents entries, go to your search bar at the top of Facebook and put that hashtag in and hit ‘Return’ – please note that there are others using this hashtag also.]

Am I Anti-Pipeline?

It gets frustrating when I hear people make statements about others being ‘pro-pipeline’ or ‘anti-pipeline’, as it’s not that cut and dry.  Many that argue for the expansion of pipelines often justify themselves by asking if you enjoy your heated home or your car, or they ask if you use plastic.

Of course we have benefited from pipelines and have lived and progressed in many ways with the heavy use of fossil fuels.  My father helped put in roads and pipelines in the north of Canada. The oil industry provides an income to my nephew and many of my childhood friend’s families, as I grew up in Alberta.

Pipelines are not going away overnight, and every so-called ‘anti-pipeline person’ knows that. However we have to start making a change, and like any other revolution through time, the change will come, one step at a time. Personal choices are key. How we live, what we purchase, what we eat, all affect the whole. We must stop new pipelines to come into balance and make that turn for a greener tomorrow – to begin the reversal from what has wrecked havoc on our environment.

Sure we’ve seemingly benefited by the use of fossil fuel, but it was at a cost to our environment. Today more and more are divesting and directing their money away from fossil fuels. My brother’s company is pioneering in this movement.

Pipeline in the 1950s, Manitoba, Canada (Photo from the Whachell family album)
Pipeline in the 1950s, Manitoba, Canada (Photo from the Whachell family album)

We have the know-how to go-green through alternate means, and keep fossil fuels in the ground. However we are creatures of habit,  who like to cling to the old ways, and ridicule those who take a stand toward change. We are being egged on to remain complacent by those attempting to debunk new ideas, as a financial loss is at stake (for some). In a world where social media has us inhaling ideas like breathing air, we must be mindful.

Here’s one case in point: The Wall Street Journal, known to be a highly respected publication has a recent article titled, “What the Dakota Access Pipeline Is Really About” where the writer, Kevin Cramer goes on to say that First Nations were consulted; that it’s not about protecting water; etc, etc.

Yet, look at what Wikipedia tells us about the ‘writer.’ I was shocked to find this: [Cramer has been described by Reuters as “one of America’s most ardent drilling advocates.”  Cramer supports an increase in oil and gas drilling on public lands and supports cutting taxes for energy producers. He is opposed to what he characterizes as overreach by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In May 2016, Donald Trump asked Cramer to draft his campaign’s energy policy.  He wrote Trump’s energy plan, which focuses heavily on promoting fossil fuels and weakening environmental regulation. The plan also vows to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement and repeal U.S. regulations aims at controlling the carbon emissions which cause climate change. Cramer was “one of a handful of early Trump endorsers” among House Republicans.”]

Yet the Wall Street Journal just let’s Cramer have his way with us…

I encourage everyone to watch the free documentary  on National Geographic channel called Before the Flood by Leonardo DiCaprio. American actor DiCaprio admits in the film that he’s likely been one of the worst abusers of personal use of fossil fuels. Many will just stop right here, because I’ve even mentioned his name. That’s where we go wrong. We get so narrow-minded and hear one thing that is negative about someone (often from a ‘debunker’), and we check them off our credibility list.

First Nations people paddle in front of Kinder Morgan on Burrard Inlet during the Salish Sea Gathering in 2015. (Photo: Robbin Whachell)
First Nations people paddle in front of Kinder Morgan on Burrard Inlet during the Salish Sea Gathering in 2015 hosted by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. Traditional unceded Coast Salish territory. (Photo: Robbin Whachell)

Another person I am tired of hearing be bashed is David Suzuki. Suzuki said, “By deciding in favour of the fossil fuel industry, the federal government is rejecting climate science and ignoring overwhelming community and First Nations opposition.” This man has given his life to educate us about the preciousness and intricacies of our planet, our bodies and our minds, yet people say he has a ‘hidden agenda’. Really? For what? If the man is exposing those that exploit our world’s greatest assets, don’t you think those that are gaining monetarily will attempt to make him look bad anyway they can, and at any cost?

What irks me most about pipelines like the Dakota Access, and Kinder Morgan is that the very few rich, get richer at the expense of the land, and the people that enjoy or live on that land, in particular the First Nations people. It only takes one (1) spill to ruin an environment, possibly forever.

I am opposed to Kinder Morgan for those same reasons, and because of the expected increase to tanker traffic in an area we hope our future generations can enjoy as much as we do.  I personally paddle in that inlet and see firsthand the marvels of nature on land, and in and on the ocean. I also work closely with my local wild salmon sustainability program, and I want my grandchildren to see these amazing fresh and ocean water fish return into our streams like we do today.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs said in a recent letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, “You cannot truly believe that the Kinder Morgan sevenfold increase in tanker traffic is not a real risk to the B.C. coast, to everything that Coast Salish Peoples hold dear, including the fishing and tourism industries, to the orcas, shell-fish harvesting and the dynamic life systems in the ocean and on land…”

Burrard Inlet is enjoyed by the public. People kayak, canoe, row, and dragon boat along the waterway. This is my dragon boat team, the Nothin' Dragon Masters. (Photo: Erica McCarthur))
Burrard Inlet is enjoyed by the public. People kayak, canoe, row, and dragon boat along the waterway. This is my dragon boat team, the Nothin’ Dragon Masters. (Photo: Erica McCarthur))

It’s upsetting and just plain wrong that First Nations people of the affected areas are not being consulted in these big pipeline deals and are lied to by our government.

In the end, I have friends (and possibly family) that likely think I am naive and uneducated. Perhaps they are right.  I am no economist, scientist or marine biologist, and I don’t like labels. I know I lean more toward humanism and naturalism, “Pro-People” or “Pro-Planet.”

I am not simply, ‘anti-pipeline’ because it’s more than just about pipelines and profits, it’s about people and our planet.

[Focused Fashion: In this photo I am wearing my new Green Embassy sleeveless Organic Alpaca felted jacket made in Australia! This jacket is part of the “Empty Oceans Series” and 1/3 of its purchase goes towards Sea Shepherd Australia. Please support efforts to keep our oceans safe for seals, whales and dolphins.

About Robbin Whachell…

Dragon boat team narrowly escapes harm as car crashes into water in Port Moody

 

On Monday, May 16th, like any other training day for the Nothin Dragon, dragon boat team, before heading out on the water we were doing our warmups and stretches on the grassy picnic area to the left (west) of the boat ramp at Rocky Point Park.

Our coach, Erica was just coming in from leading the high school team she coaches and was walking down the wharf.  We heard a car engine rev, and then accelerate, causing us to look up and within the blink of an eye, a red Toyota came pummeling through the boat parking area  heading directly at our team warming up on the grass.  The Nothin Dragon Masters is made up of men and women, 50 years plus, with some of the team in their early 80s.  Several members were in the direct line of acceleration. Screams were heard and split-second decisions were made, as to which way to run to avoid being hit.

The car jumped the cement curb with increased speed heading straight through us  toward the water.  The car then made contact with a cement-secured park bench  (still holding the paddles of team members). The bench and the car then went airborne over the rock embankment and landed in the water on rocks since the tide was on its way out, finally standing still, in water only up to the front wheel-well.

This is from the vantage point of where the car drove toward the water. People in this scene were looking down at the Toyota, but this is the direct path she took when she drove through our training warmup. Photo: Robbin Whachell
This is from the vantage point of where the car drove toward the water. People in this scene were looking down at the Toyota (you can see the break in the mesh orange fence), but this is the direct path she took when she drove through our training warmup. Photo: Robbin Whachell

Coach Erica was walking her students through the gazebo, just east of the scene and saw it all take place. She ran to the car along with my teammate Charlie and she opened the passenger door. We heard the engine rev, shocked that the car was still running, and the driver still wanted the car to move.

Erica managed to get the  motor turned off. The driver was conscious, but delirious it seemed.  Several calls were made to 911 by onlookers,  and an open line to BC Ambulance was maintained until they arrived  on the scene.

Erica and Charlie stayed with the driver until the paramedics arrived. She told us later that the female driver said she was tired, and wanted to get home. She had tried several times to reengage the car to leave.

After the authorities arrived and were in control, and with all of us still very much in shock, our team gathered in a circle near the gazebo to take a moment to internalize what had just happened and to give thanks that no one was injured (save the driver).

Port Moody police officers approached us and took statements from team members. Some of our team who had arrived late, had seen the woman driving down the grass bank beside the Old Mill Boathouse just moments before the incident. The fact that no people were hurt or other vehicles damaged before she made that final leap, was a miracle.

13254738_1732343633688030_4262424863435587651_o
View from the gazebo at Rocky Point Park looking to the red Toyota that was driven through our training session, through a park bench and over the rocks. It was driven by an Asian woman approximately in her 50s (Photo: Robbin Whachell)

Our coach suggested it might be good for us to continue with our practice (for those that wanted) to shake off the experience.

On our way to the dragon boat we watched as the first-responders helped the woman from her car, and covered her with a blanket. I was surprised she was able to walk over the rocks to a stretcher. She seemed completely dazed however.

We took our seats in the Dragonfly and Firefly, utterly grateful that no one was hurt, and headed out onto the water, a little numb, until the strokes put our bodies and minds in unison.

Upon returning to shore , we were surprised to see emergency vehicles were still there. The red Toyota was hoisted out of the water by a tow truck, and we returned to the comfort of our homes and families…

(Note: Much of this account was written by, or adapted from the words of our club’s president, Brian. No point rewriting what he articulated quite accurately.)

For more photos see the team’s Facebook page HERE.

My Allergies are in Bloom!

 

I am about as granola bar as it gets when it comes to health. I was raised on lots of vegetables, vitamins, chiropractic,  and rarely went to a doctor growing up.

When I moved back to Canada from The Bahamas, I had no idea that I’d be suffering with seasonal or spring allergies.   I was fine for the first few years as I was living in a high rise.  Then, when I moved into a house, it happened to be March and I was hit by the running nose, sneezing, swollen head and itchy  eyes. I was miserable!

I researched and tried anything alternative at first, but when I couldn’t take the pain  I went to the drugstore.  However, even taking an allergy relief tablet daily was not helping me much.   My eyes were even streaming as I slept, and I’d wake up to crusty irritable eyes. It felt like I had a bad case of the flu.

It wasn’t until the middle of my attendance at  Vancouver Fashion Week that I realized I could not take it any longer, and I went into a walk in clinic on a Saturday morning to seek help.

The Trinity for Allergies
The Trinity: Ran-Montelukast, Pataday, and Omnaris

Dr. Milne in Coquitlam came to my rescue. He told me I needed three things to get my hay fever or spring allergies down, and get them down good.  I’ve since called his prescription, “The Trinity.”   Orally I take one Ran-Montelukast; then for my eyes, one drop of Pataday; and for my nasal passage, a shot in each nostril of Omnaris.

Although the bill is around $150 for a month’s supply, I’d pay twice that, or more, to be out of the misery.   Within two days of starting on the regime (dosages are once per day) I was feeling normal again. And, it does not even make me drowsy.

The following year when I felt it coming on, I wasted little time to get my fix.  This year, I felt like I was almost going to get through it, then boom… (6 days later than last year’s date), I could not take the growing symptoms,  and went in for the Trinity.  Interestingly, the clinic receptionist was red-eyed and stuffy when I got there. You could tell she was suffering from allergies. I am not sure why she’d not talk to the doctors she works for, but I shared my story with her.

I can’t imagine how many people live with this every year, when they don’t have to.  I am certainly grateful for modern science on this one, as I am usually out-of-doors, paddling, hiking, or doing watershed and salmon related work.  Canada’s west coast is one of the most beautiful places to be in the spring, and I am glad I can get out and enjoy it!

Crocuses-Whachell-Robbin
First signs of spring – beautiful crocuses (Photo: Robbin Whachell)

Looking forward to Coquitlam Crunch Challenge 2016

CC-Robbin-WhachellThe weather was perfect for the 6th installment of the Coquitlam Crunch ‘Diversity’ Challenge on September 12th as the 2015 edition took a shorter 4-hour format.  This year I stepped up my involvement by coming on as an assistant coordinator of the event. I helped with PR and social media, photography, etc. It’s a great event at one of my favourite places in Coquitlam. I was able to get in one lap myself, which I try and do at least 3 times a week on my own.

Approximately 200 people came out, and walked or ran the Coquitlam Crunch Trail to support local charities: the Coquitlam Foundation ‘Diversity’ Fund; SHARE food bank; and the Blanket BC Society.

“We are so grateful for how supportive the community and volunteers have been,” said event founder, Alex Bell. “People came forward, on their own accord to offer their support. There is no way we could have raised more than $16,000 since 2010 for the Community Diversity Fund without the support of individual donors, sponsors and volunteers. This fund is now a legacy for our community.” In 2015, the Coquitlam Diversity Fund generated its first grant of $500 to the Tri-Cities Brain Injury Support Group to help fund social interaction and community recreational opportunities for brain injury survivors. With donations still coming in, this year’s event has raised approximately $2500.

The Make it Or Break It category started at 8am, and has sparked a growing competitive spirit over the years. It had 30 registrants, (4 times that of last year) all vying to see how many times in 4 hours they could go up and down the Crunch Trail, which starts beside Scott Creek Middle School and finishes up at Eagle Mountain Drive, 2.2 km from bottom to top.

Over 100 people registered for the Recreational category which started formally at 10am. Refreshments and snacks were provided at the bottom and at the top, along with treats for the kids.  The Kangho Hapkido Martial Arts Academy were out in full force, and not only did they lead the warm up for the Recreational category, but they presented a $595 cheque toward the Diversity Fund.

“It’s been interesting to watch the growth of the Make it Or Break it category,” said event founder, Alex Bell. “This year we had an almost even male-female ratio and a few children came out, with the youngest being 10 years old. It was great to see a couple senior athletes also involved.”

Matt Sessions, who is the 12-hour event record-holder with 17 loops, won this year’s 4-hour Make it Or Break it challenge by completing 8 loops. He was followed closely behind by Ray Barrett. With the average loop ‘walking’ up and down the Crunch being around 1 hour, most of the Make it Or Break it  competitors completed 5 – 7 loops.  Winner, Matt Sessions clocked 24 minutes on his first loop. The new 4-hour format, most definitely added the speed component. Out of the women that participated, Jackie Senchyna was the top competitor with 6 laps, and out of the youth,   Gracie Lorenson completed 7 loops.

“The competitors are already giving us their feedback, and although 6 years ago, we started as a simple charity event, we note the dedication of the athletes, and like other competitions, we will have to step it up to include times, age groups, etc,” said Bell, who has already met with his team to review improvements for next year to include down-to-the-second timekeeping, as well as formal top overall male / female and age group recognitions.

Next year the event is slated for September 10, 2016, and organizers are looking to the corporate community for ideas, funding, and man-hours in order to make the event more efficiently and accurately run. Any persons or businesses who can offer help toward time-keeping, signage and printing, traffic control, event-day volunteers, and t-shirts, are asked to make contact.

“This year we had 20 volunteers that proved invaluable, and we were able to enhance the safety of the street crossings along the trail,” said Bell. “To grow again, we need even more hands on deck and we are looking for people or businesses who would like to be part of our 2016 organizing team.”

A prize was offered to the Make it Or Break it winner, as well as 5 draw prizes were given out provided by Maxfit Movement Institute which included fitness/running assessments and massages. CKPM FM provided 2 extra prizes.  “I’d like to thank all those who stepped in this year to make it one of our best events,” said Bell. “This event is taking on a life of its own. It has the potential to become a signature event of Coquitlam.”

The public is invited to provide feedback, and may do so by emailing coquitlamcrunch@gmail.com. You can also join the event email list at coquitlamcrunch.com.  Event photos have been posted to the event Facebook page.  The 2015 Coquitlam Crunch Challenge was proudly supported by 98.7 CKPM FM, Eagle Ridge GM, Maxfit Movement Institute, New Earth Marketing, Pasta  Polo, Vancity, Magenta Printing, Pack and Ship, City of Coquitlam, Coquitlam Foundation, Kangho Hapkido Martial Arts Academy, Northside Foursquare Church, and McDonald’s.

More information can be found at coquitlamcrunch.com

(Photos: Robbin Whachell)

 

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 coquitlamcrunch.com.

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 coquitlamfoundation.com 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 coquitlamcrunch@gmail.com

“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 coquitlamcrunch@gmail.com.

See you at the Crunch!

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

fashion-speak-kamloops
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 http://www.headhuntershair.com/ or contact Kim Coltman of Headhunters Hair-salon and Wellness Center by email kgcoltman@hotmail.ca

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

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.”  – sciencemadesimple.com

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.