Two Ukee locals have been crowned community champions.
BC’s provincial government recently announced this year’s crop of Community Achievement Award winners, which includes Wild Pacific Trail Society members ‘Oyster’ Jim Martin and Barbara Schramm.
“The Wild Pacific Trail on Vancouver Island exists because of the passionate work of ‘Oyster’ Jim Martin and Barbara Schramm,” the province’s announcement states.
“The trail along the Island’s West Coast has made a significant contribution to the community of Ucluelet, Vancouver Island and British Columbia. ‘Oyster’ Jim envisioned the trail located at the ocean’s edge, bushwhacking much of it himself. Barbara is dedicated to furthering the trail society’s educational goals along with administering its fundraising and management.”
Martin told the Westerly News he has been delighted to see the trail become a popular and successful community asset.
“My response to all who congratulate me as I work on the trail is to say, ‘It is my pleasure.’ Anyone who spends half their life in pursuit of such an asset would also be as pleased,” he said.
He added the award would bring increased exposure to the trail and create “more good recognition, more presence, more activity and more prosperity for this community and the West Coast of Vancouver Island in general.”
Schramm told the Westerly she was surprised by the announcement and thrilled with what it means for the trail.
“I was stunned when I received a phone call announcing this award for Jim and myself,” she said. “I thank those who worked on this nomination and the trail society who makes it all work. This award brings wonderful attention to Ucluelet, the trail and our ambitious goals. “
She suggested the trail is well equipped to shine in the spotlight and the additional attention could attract additional funding sources.
“The trail deserves attention as a community success story, we really can build the impossible if we all work together. It is my hope that publicity like this will help the trail society attract funding for our next big dream, which is education,” she said.
“People already sit in viewpoints with tears in their eyes, we want to help them to see more than the view. We want to teach everyone about this remarkable ecosystem and the human history of this coastline. Put a slug in someone’s hand and they will always remember that interaction.”
Martin and Schramm’s recognition is not the only good news the trail society is celebrating this month as they recently received funding for a new trail ambassador.
“The trail society is delighted to announce that after two seasons of guest interpretive walks, we are hiring a Wild Pacific Trail Ambassador summer intern,” Schramm said.
“From May long weekend to the end of August, Suzy Christoffel—an energetic Marine Biology student—will be leading daily interpretive walks and setting up a ‘discovery tent’ at the lighthouse. We will still have walks from Silva Johansson, the Ucluelet Aquarium and other guest guides too.”
Schramm said the trail’s fans have a lot to look forward to.
“We want to keep building the impossible, not only making the trail reach more places, but we want to enrich people’s connection to nature in this special place,” she said. “Our long term goal is to build an education centre on the trail which would open a door for the next big economic boost for the region. No dream is too large.”
Martin and Schramm will be among the 30 British Columbians to be honoured at this year’s Community Achievement Awards ceremony in Victoria on May 25.
“All British Columbians are inspired by those who lead by example, lending their time and talents in their community…Thank you to the 2016 recipients; your commitment and generosity make a real difference in people’s lives,” said BC premier Christy Clark through a recent media release.
“We are privileged to showcase and celebrate the achievements of these exceptional British Columbians.”
The awards have recognized over 300 community champions since being launched in 2003. The West Coast’s past recipients are Brenda Reid-Kuecks in 2008, Joe Martin in 2012 and Keith Gibson in 2014.