Charitable Choices: Emily Lonie of Vancouver Heritage Foundation

Vancouver Heritage Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that promotes the appreciation and conservation of Vancouver’s historic places. We spoke with Emily Lonie, Executive Director, to find out more about them.

Vancouver Heritage Foundation
Celtic Cannery – a Places That Matter plaque presentation and the walking tour took place in 2013. Photo credit: Alex Salaveria

Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences.

Vancouver Heritage Foundation promotes the appreciation and conservation of our city’s historic places for current and future generations. VHF does this by creating opportunities and resources to learn about Vancouver’s history and heritage places, and by providing practical support for the successful conservation of historic buildings and sites.

What problem does it aim to solve?

VHF aims to ensure a future for Vancouver’s heritage. To do this, we provide resources that encourage and foster the appreciation and conservation of Vancouver’s important heritage places. In a city full of constant development, taking care of our unique built and intangible heritage assets and the stories behind them is more important than ever.

When did you start/join it?

I joined VHF this past summer as Executive Director and have always admired the impressive work that Vancouver Heritage Foundation does to highlight heritage conservation, recognize and celebrate intangible cultural heritage, and help build appreciation in the next generation through the Schools Program.

Vancouver Heritage Foundation was created as a charitable organization in 1992. The City of Vancouver Mayor and Councillors were VHF’s first Directors and remain Honorary Members today. Since 1998, VHF has been governed by a private citizen Board comprised of up to 15 voting Directors and 3 non-voting members, who are appointed by Mayor & Council. In 2022, VHF will celebrate 30 years of operations.

What made you want to get involved?

In my former role as Coquitlam City Archivist, I developed a strong appreciation for local history and heritage, which continues to inspire and motivate me in my current role at VHF.

What was the situation like when you started?

I joined VHF during a time when our team was continuing to navigate the challenges of presenting engaging programming, projects and grants during the pandemic. This year, VHF has presented our programming online and persevered despite the various obstacles that we encountered. It’s been a big learning experience for all of us but I’m proud of the way the team has found creative ways to adapt.

How has it changed since?

As we look ahead to 2022, we are planning an engaging lineup of events and programs and we will continue to provide financial support for heritage homeowners, authors, educators, and students. With our supporters’ best interests and safety in mind, we are looking forward to presenting a mix of in-person and online events in 2022. As restrictions ease, we hope that we will be able to safely gather again, with appropriate measures in place.

What more needs to be done?

Vancouver is continuously evolving with development happening across the city, and so there is always work that needs to be done to promote conservation and to build awareness and appreciation of Vancouver’s diverse heritage. VHF provides many ways that you can learn about Vancouver’s heritage and diverse histories and get involved to build a vibrant and inclusive community.

How can our readers help?

We rely on community donations to offer educational programming, resources, and practical support for heritage conservation. Every donation to Vancouver Heritage Foundation is gratefully received and every dollar makes a difference. We accept donations year-round in support of our vital programs. To donate.

Volunteering for Vancouver Heritage Foundation is also a great opportunity to help spread the message of the positive and sustainable effects heritage conservation has on Vancouver while learning about our city’s history, unique architecture, and cultural heritage.

Do you have any events coming up?

We are looking forward to celebrating Heritage Week from February 21 – 27, 2022. We will be presenting our Places That Matter Community Celebration on February 23 rd and will be offering a special Virtual Stroll on February 24th. We are also excited to announce our lineup of regular programming in 2022. Keep an eye on our Calendar of Events for more updates coming soon.

Where can we follow you?

Our website!

You can also follow along for our latest news and updates on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?

Vancouver Heritage Fairs Society is a non-profit organization that promotes the education of Canadian history amongst BC Students. Every year, the society plans fairs across the province in which students showcase their projects on a certain aspect of our past. The Vancouver Heritage Fairs is the regional branch of the society featuring a team of about 30 youth alumni who are passionate about spreading the Heritage Fair experience to elementary school students across their region.