Located between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia is the Georgia Strait where an estimated 3,000 species of marine life thrive. It’s one of the most biologically productive marine habitats in the world. In 1990, a group of people living on Vancouver Island recognized that with the growing threats due to increased population and industrialization on either side, the Strait needed protection.
“These people felt that though the Georgia Strait was surrounded and enjoyed by a lot of people, no one was speaking with a regional voice or advocating for the ecosystem,” says Executive Director of Georgia Strait Alliance, Christianne Wilhelmson.
That group organized to form what is now known as Georgia Strait Alliance (GSA)—a regional registered charity that works to identify potential marine life threats and engage with people across sectors to find solutions that protect the ecosystem of the entire Salish Sea.
How Georgia Strait Alliance enacts change
GSA works under the knowledge that systemic change takes time. When faced with a threat to the natural ecosystem, GSA turns to western, citizen and Indigenous science and knowledge for a solution that they can propose to the community. Then, they work sometimes for years, if not decades, to implement that change. All the while, focusing on three models of change:
Advocacy model: Empowering the public to mobilize and speak up on behalf of the surrounding ecosystem. This includes contacting government officials, getting better legislation around pollution, and increasing protection for whales and other at-risk species.
Stewardship model: Providing educational material to the public as well as to businesses to show them how they can benefit from following ecological principles and practices. This includes working with the boating industry to create facilities that have the highest environmental standards.
Collaborative model: Facilitating conversations across sectors for the purpose of reaching a goal together. This is a non-confrontational approach to maintaining the environment and establishing a mutual respect for it.
GSA values a collaborative approach over being adversarial, but when necessary it will use advocacy or take legal action to protect the Strait’s marine life. Willingness to work with various agencies, institutions and industries to create change is what has made Georgia Strait Alliance successful over time.
Be part of the change in Vancouver
Your business can play an active role in protecting marine life and habitats by supporting Georgia Strait Alliance through:
Sponsorships and in-kind support: Your business can sponsor a programme, event, or activity organized by Georgia Strait Alliance, or by offering an employee giving programme. Businesses can also partner with this charity by providing in-kind donations.
Private donations: You can receive a charitable tax receipt for any financial donation made to Georgia Strait Alliance, whether you offer a one-time gift or monthly support. You can also give through donation stocks or when estate planning.
Volunteering: Both individuals and businesses can offer support by volunteering. Whether you’d like to help with outreach, an event or administrative work, there is always a need for the gift of time.
Event attendance: Learn more about one of Canada’s vital marine ecosystems by attending one of the charity’s events.
Have other ideas on how you’d like to support GSA’s work? Connect with GSA – they welcome creative ideas!
Want to be better informed about the well-being of the Georgia Strait? Follow Georgia Strait Alliance on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for engaging information and healthy discussion about the issues.