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GoFundMe creator responds to Cortes Island director’s critics

Crowdfunding page is subject of court petition from 13 people
Area B Director Noba Anderson. File photo/Campbell River Mirror

The person behind the GoFundMe campaign at the centre of a court case against Area B Director Noba Anderson claims full responsibility for it.

Lovena Harvey says she had to convince Anderson, her friend and neighbour, to let her set up the crowd-funding page to raise funds following a fire last January on the property that destroyed a cabin on site where Anderson’s father was living. This is why the GoFundMe site, Bernie’s Cabin Fire Rebuild, did not actually go up until March.

“It took me two months to convince Noba to do a fundraiser,” she told the Mirror.

At the beginning of January, a group of 13 people launched a petition in civil court that asks, among other things, for the court to disqualify Anderson from sitting as director until the next election. They point to the presence of donors to the GoFundMe campaign who have received work or grants from the Strathcona Regional District.

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Harvey said they chose a small amount of $3,000 for the campaign to add an addition, though the costs came in higher.

“It was more just a token gesture,” she said. “Noba was really hesitant.”

She also points out a number of people not able to donate also helped during work bees to help with the project.

Moreover, Harvey said the money is to help Anderson’s father, and she was in the process of looking after him and now has power of attorney.

This is why they chose to build an addition to Anderson’s home rather than rebuild the cabin.

“She is his caregiver now,” she added. “If politicians can be attacked for taking care of their aging parents, there is a big problem in our world.”

As well, Harvey said, the money raised was deposited into his account, which is also what has been used to cover building expenses for the project.

Harvey recalls seeing Anderson’s father right after he escaped the fire with only the clothes on his back, and even those had burn holes.

“He was sitting outside the cabin, confused,” she said.

Initially, Harvey thought about deleting reference to Anderson on the page but thought it would be more forthcoming to explain the relationship in the campaign.

She admits she tried taking the page down once they were almost at the fundraising goal but had technical difficulties. She also felt it might appear they were hiding something by taking it down.

As well, another daughter was able to transfer extra funds to him in December through the site.

Harvey’s long-term concern is what this case means to the community on Cortes.

“The thing they’re attacking is the very fabric of what makes Cortes Island special,” she said. “Living in this small community, this is what we do for each other.”

This can mean members of the community help after a fire, or it can mean bringing meals to parents of newborns or rallying after a death in someone’s family.

Living in a small island community also means that it is normal for many people to sit on many boards, Harvey said, so it should not come as a surprise that some of the campaign contributors might be involved with groups that have typically received grants-in-aid from the SRD or who have working relationships.

“In a small community, there’s no way people are not connected,” she said. “We have a thousand people on the island.”

Her husband, for one, donated to the campaign but has also had a working relationship with the SRD for 17 years.

RELATED STORY: More SRD results, Anderson wins in Area B

She thinks much of the case stems from a small number of opponents of the area director winning again in the Oct. 20 local government elections, as well as the community’s support for a hall tax during a non-binding referendum the same day.

“They’re kind of dehumanizing Noba and her dad,” she said.

Now, Harvey and others will have to devote time and energy to provide information for a court case she feels is needless.

“What a perfect waste of time,” she said. “I feel this all very petty.”