Jason Sam, front, is now at the helm of Surfrider Pacific Rim. He’s looking forward to extending Surfrider’s reach to surrounding First Nations communities. (Nora O’Malley / Westerly News)

Surfrider Pacific Rim rides wave of success

Local chapter raises $22,800 at inaugural fundraiser.

Surfrider Pacific Rim Foundation raised $22,800 on Friday night, March 9, at their inaugural Surfrider Sessions fundraiser event hosted in partnership with the Wickaninnish Inn.

At $150 apiece, all 50 tickets to the exclusive soirée sold, and there were over 60 silent and live auction items for guests to bid on.

Chapter manager Lilly Woodbury said the funds raised are a game changer for the non-profit environmental organization.

“It’s a real reflection of how generous this community is. I don’t know if you can get much better than the Pacific Rim communities. They are so giving. They all really have strong values for social justice and environmental protection,” said Woodbury.

Auction items included everything from gift certificates for restaurants and adventure packages to art and even drywalling. One of the more standout items included a live surfboard painting by artist Claire Watson, which garnered about $1,500.

“The painting was stunning. The board was donated by Kalum Temple Bruhwiler. That was pretty special. He’s a Canadian champion and a real up-and-coming surfer on the international stage. The fact that he donated his board that was so sweet,” Woodbury said.

Jason Sam, Surfrider’s newly appointed chapter Chair, personally donated a traditional Nuu-chah-nulth salmon barbeque. The feast, which Sam will prepare himself, went for $650.

Past Chair, Michelle Hall, remains on the executive committee as Treasurer.

Chris Pallister from the Gulf of Alaska Keeper gave a keynote speech on his work collecting marine debris in Alaska. Since 2000, the organization has removed over three million pounds of debris from Alaska’s shorelines.

Woodbury said she is looking forward to getting back to regular operations: beach cleans and extending Surfrider’s reach to neighbouring communities.

“A lot of what we do is in Tofino, but we bring it to Ucluelet. With having our Chair, our Vice Chair and a lot more of our support committee being in Ucluelet, we’re obviously going to have a stronger presence there. This includes doing more events there,” she said.

Sam reinforced that agenda, highlighting Surfrider’s involvement with local First Nations.

“We’ve been presenting to Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-aht to try to engage them. Last year we were involved in the TFN Days and we were invited back. We’ve been involved with Ahousaht and we are forming a relationship there, which we hope will be mutually beneficial,” he said, adding that a lot of new energy has also been flowing in from the recently established Surfrider Youth Club.

In 2017, Surfrider Pacific Rim Foundation recycled over 100,000 cigarettes butts thanks to the ‘Hold on to your butts’ campaign. Surfrider volunteers collected 20 tonnes of marine debris during beach cleans and Surfrider executive committee helped MP Gord Johns put forward Motion M-151, a National strategy to combat plastic pollution in our oceans, to the House of Commons.

The next Surfrider public meet up is set for April 4 at Ukee Dogs Taqueria in Ucluelet.

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