International Coastal Cleanup Day was on Saturday, Sept. 17 and Surfrider teamed up with Reef Canada to celebrate the special day.
About 60 people pitched in for a sun-soaked shoreline clean up of Cox Bay, which was followed by a prize giveaway happy hour at Long Beach Lodge.
“This weekend is all about re-connecting and rejuvenation. It’s a key moment to shape the organization going forward,” said Surfrider Pacific Rim youth lead Alys Hoyland.
For the first time since 2019, the local environmental non-profit was able to host Surfrider chapters from Victoria, Vancouver, and the Oregon/Washington coast for a two-day strategic planning and educational conference. Most recently, Surfrider Foundation Canada began the process of administering its own financials and human resources, a responsibility that was largely controlled by Surfrider’s governing body in the U.S.
Wearing a navy blue Patagonia fleece, David Boudinot introduced himself as Surfrider Canada’s president of the board.
“This year is a foundation and transition year. Next year, we will strengthen what we have and build up a clear direction for our chapters and our clubs. And then the following year, we will look into expanding,” said Boudinot, adding that a couple student clubs have just opened up in Dalhousie University and McGill University.
Surfrider Vancouver Island chair Lynn Wharram was thrilled to see so many faces at the Cox Bay Beach Clean.
“I love to see how many people are here. I used to run the South Island beach clean for years and I’ve missed them. It’s great for it all to be back,” said Wharram.
She went on to note that in addition to hosting monthly beach cleans around Victoria, Surfrider Vancouver Island does water quality testing every two weeks at most of the local beaches.
Surfrider University of Victoria Club chair Sophia Olim said students really do want to make a difference.
“We are working on phasing out single-use plastics on campus. We got the new cafeteria to have a reusables program, that was a big victory we are super happy about. It was a long-time coming,” said Olim.
Forming partnerships within communities across the country, said Boudinot, is part of Surfrider Canada’s vision.
In 2018, Reef and Surfrider became global partners to create the Better Beach Alliance, which aims at preventing plastic pollution by collecting data from beach cleanups. Since the partnership was launched four years ago, 250,000 volunteers have helped collect 1 million pounds of trash over the course of 8,000 cleanups around the world.
“It’s not just Canada and Tofino today that’s having a beach clean with our partnership. It’s the USA, Europe and Argentina as well,” said Reef representative Caitlin Hoey.
Anyone interested in becoming a Surfrider Canada member or learning more is encouraged to visit: https://canada.surfrider.org/.