Strengthening Community Connections event on February 24 was a successful collaborative event for over 50 Quadra Island organizations

Feb 28, 2024

Quadra Island Organizations Explore Possibilities for Working Together

Written by Roy L Hales, Cortes Currents (view original article here)

Representatives from at least 56 Quadra Island organizations came together at the Quadra Community Centre on Saturday, February 24. Close to 30 more were invited. Jennifer Banks-Doll, who facilitated the meeting, estimates there were about 80 attendees. They were asked two questions:

 

  1. “What are some ways Quadra groups and organizations could work together to combine our strengths and address our challenges?”
  2. And “What would help create or build stronger community connections?”
Strengthening Community Connections event February 2024

Jody Rodgers, Chair of the Board for Quadra Island Foundation, would later remark, “I was pleased beyond all expectation. The participation was enthusiastic and the positive feedback that we got afterwards was unexpectedly terrific. One of the most beautiful conversations I had was with Jack Mar, who said, He’s been living on Quadra for a very long time, and the event made him very, very proud to be from Quadra Island. It was a lovely, lovely phone call, and it really made my day.”

The Quadra Island Foundation hosted the meeting, which was one of the first steps towards its becoming a central hub for nonprofits and charities on Quadra Island and Surge Narrows-Read Island.

As many participants did not know each other, the first half of the meeting consisted of introductions. The assembly broke up into groups of three people who were either strangers or were only casually acquainted, to discuss some of the key questions of the meeting. Then representatives from each of the 56 or so organizations introduced their group itself to the larger assembly.

Cortes Currents wandered through the crowd during break. Anyone listening to the podcast will hear the hum of conversation. I started out by asking people ‘what is your name and the name of your organization.’

“My name is Fairleigh Taylor. I’m on the board of the Quadra Children’s Centre and Quadra Island Seniors Housing Society.”

Cortes Currents: So what’s your takeaway from the meeting so far?

Fairleigh Taylor: “That Quadra has a phenomenal amount of community groups, of all different types of groups that you could be involved with, and many people are involved with many different groups.”

A number of people made similar observations about the multitude of organizations and the prospects of working together. Here are a few of their names:

“I’m Kris Wellstein. I’ve been on the island for over 45 years. I’ve been a part of more of the organizations than I will admit to, including the ones that I’m not quite as involved with now, but will leapfrog back onto. Right now for fun: I run the Folk Circle For Music: I have the Fridays for the Future table and the Practical Water Solutions.”

“My name, Joan Brears and I’m with the Quadra Island Chamber Music Festival. It’s a week-long festival every July, and it’s been going except for COVID for 13 years.”

“My name is Ken Dodd, and I am here with the North Island Woodlot Holders Association, which is a local association representing woodlot licensees in the Campbell River and Fort McNeil forest districts.”

“As a person who works in the forest industry, and whose family has worked in the forest industry for three generations, I’m happy to see people that are passionate about what they’re interested in and I’m happy to see people that want to be more informed. There’s a lot of information out there that is banded about that might not be supported by facts and it’s good to see lots of people out and communicating to one another.”

Bernie Amell, from the ICAN Water Security Team, later remarked, “Sometimes people are doing very similar things and they just emerged from different places to come together so that they can find their allies and their friends and so on. It’s a very useful role for the Quadra Foundation, which is quite a new foundation.”

“There were some people there from Cortes and some from Read. I was happy to see that because as we get into the need for a sustainable future, this is a regional issue and opportunity. For example: we don’t grow any mussels on Quadra Island, we need Cortes mussels. The richness of the web of relationships was really apparent, and actually I would love to see if there was some way to encourage yet more connection among the islands, maybe we could have an event happen on the ferry or something.”

“As soon as I sat down and introduced myself, the woman sitting beside me said she was from Read Island and was interested in the very thing that I was interested in, which is ecosite mapping of Quadra Island. She’s been working on ecosystem mapping of the Discovery Islands for years.”

He was sitting beside Lannie Keller, coordinator of the Discovery Islands Ecosystem Mapping Project (DIEM), who gave an Outer Island’s perspective of the meeting, “ It was a very large group. I was impressed by learning that there are 84+ volunteer organizations on Quadra. Not overly surprised, but it was great to find them gathered together. It seems like the Quadra Foundation is taking a lead role and it’s potentially really good.”

“One of my takeaways from the meeting was that it felt really island centric and, of course, that’s normal. The stuff that happens on Read Island and in the Surge Narrows community is often very, very island centric too.”

“As a member of one of the very small and potentially less effective communities, because we are so small, it would feel good if we found ways to communicate and collaborate more among ourselves.”

“The Discovery Islands are an entity as well, and it’s really easy to become isolated by our very defined perimeters as islanders. So it’s important to know what’s going on elsewhere, maybe I should be more connected. There’s so much to know in the world.”

Cortes Currents: One people group that was noticeably absent was First Nations.

Bernie Amell: “It’s a perception that I’ve had quite a number of times. There’s just a communication … I won’t say it’s a gulf, but there’s a bit of a gap to be stepped over. I’ve been living in Canada and other areas where the Indigenous cultures were treated very, very badly and so there’s this pain to be gotten over. I don’t perceive that. What I think is, you just have to reach out for things that are genuinely of common interest and say, for example, ‘we were interested in understanding the water cycle of Quadra Island, which affects everybody.’”

Cortes Currents: That was how the ICAN water security team came to partner with We Wai Kai First Nation in a study of Quadra Islands aquifer and water systems.

Bernie Amell: “We just sincerely reached out and said, we’re concerned about this.”

There were other undercurrents running through the meeting.

Cally Overton, Managing Director of the Quadra Island Children’s Centre, pointed out, “There’s a lot of elderly people that I have been on these committees and boards for a long time, that have a lot to share and pass down. I feel like there’s a lot of wisdom in this room and I feel like there’s a lot of room for new growth and new ideas. It’s a good time to start looking at these foundations and how we can work together to structure them in a way that’s a growth mindset as a community working together. I feel like there’s some tension between some of the groups possibly, but it’s a good opportunity to begin some healthy debate. And I think it’s creating a safe space to engage in healthy debate.”

“What we need is new young people, which as an early childhood educator working with families, I can say that families are having to work a lot, and there isn’t a lot of extra time for volunteer type community engagement. Something to consider is how we can mitigate that and support young families and young people to be able to engage further.”

One of the smaller organizations at the gathering is currently made up of people in their thirties.

Rachel Perdita, from the Society of Grit, explained, “We’re just starting out, but our hope is that we will be able to participate in bringing the community together through skill sharing with a particular emphasis on life enhancement and practical or other useful skills and hosting fun events. Another focus of ours is trying to work on bridging the age gap that we notice in the community and providing a link between the younger folks and the older folks.”

After the break, the assembly broke into small working groups to discuss possible ways for the Quadra groups to work together more effectively.

Jennifer Banks-Doll later emailed Cortes Currents a list of the resulting suggestions:

  • Have an “inter-organizational” group to share info and identify ways to collaborate, and possibly implement ideas as well
  • Meeting together once a year, or even several times a year, possibly as a “think tank.”
  • Learn from the Cortes “Social Profit Network” and possibly share resources and have joint events.
  • A contact list for all groups and organizations on Quadra, on the Foundation’s website (in long form) and in the phone book (in short form).
  • An online hub with a centralized event calendar and a centralized volunteer opportunities board.and a suggestion box
  • A list of all projects, for possible collaboration and merging
  • Joint hosting of community consultations, surveys, and data collection.  Joint work, joint benefit, shared results. invite other groups to work with you
  • Find out what younger people are looking for and do stuff that attracts them
  • A fun event to thank volunteers and showcase needs
  • Role modelling, “art of mentoring,” “cross-pollinate boards” and exchange board members.
  • Having skill building workshops, like grant writing and board governance and developing a Skill Share list of people who are willing to donate their services or can be hired.
  • Hiring a staff person or two – like a “Volunteer Coordinator” or “Funding Coordinator” or “Community Development Officer” and/or a “Technology Consultant” to help organizations with volunteer recruitment and training, grant writing and other things.
  • Support the role of “in-betweeners” to promote relationships between Indigenous and settler community members and groups.
  • Share space (e.g. storage), resources, equipment (e.g. for events), even people.
  • Some of the bigger organizations (Quadra Rec Society, ICAN, Quadra Island Foundation) getting together to implement some of the ideas mentioned on behalf of the community.

Speaking on behalf of the Quadra Foundation, Jody Rodgers added, “I think this is the start of many such sessions where we can get together and assist each other. We have a lot of work to do. We’re really looking forward to being the data stewards for Quadra Island, as well as being the stewards of people’s generosity.”