Grant request opens reel controversy

Despite objections, Strathcona Regional District approves Tides Canada grant for youth film program

A youth program on Cortes Island will receive grant money from the Strathcona Regional District despite one director’s objections over the group’s affiliation with a controversial organization.

Directors approved a $1,500 grant-in-aid for Reel Youth to produce an intergenerational film, but the cheque will have to be made out to Tides Canada, an organization that provides financial and project management support to environmental groups.

Tides is an organization that Area D Director Brenda Leigh has questioned more than once.

“The last time that Reel Youth applied for funds from this board through Tides Canada I voted no because they have $2 million in assets,” Leigh said. “These are supposed to be grants-in-aid to aid organizations that don’t have money. They don’t need money in my opinion.”

Cortes Director Noba Anderson, who brought forward the funding request to the board, explained that the Tides Canada Foundation has a number of financial accounts and Reel Youth is just one of Tides Canada’s funds.

Anderson said Tides Canada cannot legally transfer money between accounts, so Reel Youth only has access to funding earmarked for that program.

The Tides Canada Initiatives Society Reel Youth 2014 budget shows that Reel Youth last year received $25,000 from the Vancouver Foundation, $15,000 from the Telus Community Board, $6,000 from the BC Arts Council, a $2,500 grant from the Strathcona Regional District and $20,000 in other grants. It also accumulated $229,950 in revenue for what is described as ‘fee for service.’

Reel Youth made more than 100 films last year with young people from B.C., the North West Territories, Ontario and Vietnam.

Margaret Dickson, vice-president of Tides Canada, described in the grant-in-aid application that funding from the regional district will allow Reel Youth to offer a video production program that will bring 12 community members and up to 10 seniors together to produce six films that celebrate seniors and the history of Cortes Island.

“The program will provide the community with the unique opportunity to gain tangible video production and collaboration skills, while facilitating the formation of meaningful inter-generation connections between young people and seniors in the community,” Dickson wrote. “The films will premiere at a community film festival.”

Director and Campbell River Mayor Andy Adams said he was fortunate to view one of Reel Youth’s films at the Tidemark Theatre last year.

“It was pretty impressive,” Adams said. “I would support that (application).”

In the end, all directors, with the exception of Leigh, voted to award Reel Youth the $1,500 grant.

Last year, both Leigh and Area A Director Gerald Whalley voted against funding Reel Youth for a similar project because of its connection to Tides Canada.

Tides has made headlines in recent years for its contributions to political campaigns and for receiving U.S. funds.

Vivian Krause, a blogger from North Vancouver, has in the past exposed several foreign donations, particularly from the U.S., to Tides Canada which turns the money over to lobby groups against forestry and oil sands and other environmental development.

Tides is also one of seven environmental groups to recently have its charitable status audited by Revenue Canada.