Tofino Girl Guides celebrate 100 year milestone

Tofino Brownie unit leaders April Thompson, right, and Alabama Chevrier teach youth Sasha, Kira, Bryna, Leni, Ryley, and Raphaele about bees during their regular Monday night sitting circle in the Tofino Legion basement Longstanding Girl Guide volunteer Jeanette Martinolich listens in the back. (Nora O’Malley photo)Tofino Brownie unit leaders April Thompson, right, and Alabama Chevrier teach youth Sasha, Kira, Bryna, Leni, Ryley, and Raphaele about bees during their regular Monday night sitting circle in the Tofino Legion basement Longstanding Girl Guide volunteer Jeanette Martinolich listens in the back. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Girl Guides in Tofino, late 1920’s, Dorothy Abraham, guidemistress. (Photo courtesy of “Hoots From A Brown Owl”)Girl Guides in Tofino, late 1920’s, Dorothy Abraham, guidemistress. (Photo courtesy of “Hoots From A Brown Owl”)
Tofino Girl Guides unit leaders April Thompson, Alabama Chevrier and Jeanette Martinolich with Brownie Pack Sasha, Kira, Bryna, Leni, Ryley, and Raphaele flash the Girl Scout Sign next to Tofino’s cenotaph. (Nora O’Malley photo)Tofino Girl Guides unit leaders April Thompson, Alabama Chevrier and Jeanette Martinolich with Brownie Pack Sasha, Kira, Bryna, Leni, Ryley, and Raphaele flash the Girl Scout Sign next to Tofino’s cenotaph. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Photo courtesy of “Hoots From A Brown Howl” by Dorothy AbrahamPhoto courtesy of “Hoots From A Brown Howl” by Dorothy Abraham

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Tofino Girl Guides.

Young British war-bride Dorothy Abraham started the first Brownie Pack in 1922 with four Brownies, in uniforms made by one of the mothers, and Abraham herself, being enrolled in front of the whole community.

“First I enrolled myself as the Guide, then I enrolled the Brownies. It was a very solemn moment, everyone was quite impressed; this was followed by games, songs and tea; and so began the 1st Tofino Brownie Pack, the most westerly Pack in Canada,” writes Abraham in her memoir “Hoots from a Brown Owl”.

Flash-forward to present day, and the Tofino Girls Guides are thriving and as enthusiastic as ever “To be a catalyst for girls empowering girls” as the Girl Guides mission states.

Longstanding Girls Guides volunteer Jeanette Martinolich started as a badge tester over 30 years ago and now holds the role of deputy commissioner.

“It’s the friendship with the ladies that I love. Plus, you get to meet all sorts of wonderful people,” said Martinolich on a Monday evening from the Tofino Legion basement also known as the local Guiding headquarters.

When Abraham was leading the Pack in the 1920’s, their main source of fundraising was selling fruits and veggies.

“Some days we would put up an ice-cream stand on the wharf, and sell to the fishermen for funds,” pens Abraham.

Nowadays, it’s the Girl Guide Cookies that help fund camping trips for the girls, on the water activities, or special expeditions to places like Vancouver Island’s Horne Lake Caves. Cookie sales are much more profitable than vegetable sales, notes Martinolich.

February 2022 brought many of the Packs from Tofino and Ucluelet together for the first multi-unit event in two years as we celebrated Thinking Day and completed the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) challenge.

This year’s theme was “Our World, Our Equal Future” and WAGGGS has over 150 member countries.

“We talked about youth around the world,” says Martinolich. “We played a relay where we had to carry water from further and further due to the impacts of climate change and also talked about how this is usually a woman or girl’s task in the home.”

Thinking Day for the West Coast Guides also included a walk to Tonquin Park and Guides shared stories of women who are environmental change-makers. Youth discussed how to inspire change and find more sustainable solutions for the future and bridge the gender gap by finding their voice and taking action.

Martinolich says today’s Girls Guides and volunteer unit leaders gain access to all sorts of first aid and wildlife training as well, something that the Brownies of the past enjoyed too. She says there are opportunities for leadership in Tofino at all five levels (Sparks, Brownies, Guides, Pathfinders, Rangers) and Ucluelet needs volunteer leaders as well.

More activities to celebrate the 100 years on the Coast and to welcome/entice new members are in the works for the fall, including sharing a milestone birthday cake. Anyone interested in learning more is encouraged to visit girlguides.ca.

RELATED: Tofino Girl Guides create and donate supplies for local foster cats



nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

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