Charitable Choices: FORED Education with Victor Godin, Consulting Director of Education Services

FORED BC is a non-profit organization that provides sustainability education, tools and consulting to communities across British Columbia (including First Nations Communities). We spoke with Victor Godin, Consulting Director of Education Services to learn more about them.

FORED

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

FORED BC engages citizens and communities in activities and choices that enhance understanding of sustainable natural resources management. Through a variety of complimentary programs, FORED provides resources to help foster a balanced dialogue around environmental, cultural, social and economic values, including the essential relationship of Indigenous peoples to our natural resources. Our First Nations partners and many volunteers from government, academia, foundations and industry support our efforts.

Canada has abundant forests & natural resources. Environment & economy aren’t mutually exclusive.

Education is vital.

What problem does it aim to solve?

Address some of the misinformation that is available and help youths and others learn how to research, check bias and think critically about complex issues through a variety of tools, or videos as well as many of our freely downloadable educational resources developed by teachers for K-12, and endorsed by the Environmental Educators of BC of the BC Teachers’ Federation.

When did you start/join it?

1992

What made you want to get involved?

The need to ensure a balanced discussion about management of natural resources, integrating all the important components: environmental preservation for parks and forest creatures, Indigenous values, economic vitality and well-paid jobs plus tax revenues that support our health, education and safety net programs, and the social implications that ensue from being gainfully employed in diverse fields, from wildlife technicians to soil biologists and forestry engineers.

What was the situation like when you started?

We were just in the midst of a turbulent time in BC history with a variety of protest movements around the Clayoquot Sound and preservation of old-growth forest for the Spirit Bear. We even had a Youth Chair, Simon Jackson, founder of the Spirit Bear Coalition, and a Time Magazine Hero for the Planet on our board. Youth leaders like Simon worked alongside industry, government, academics and First Nations collectively, both in and outside of our organization to find a path to consensus. We were proud to be a part of the public education efforts that included teacher workshops, non-biased educational activities, nature tours for 30,000 kids annually in a second-growth forest called Green Timbers in Surrey, National Forest Week annual artwork and photography contests and sustainable development youth forums in partnership with the Vancouver Aquarium.

How has it changed since?

FORED has evolved from its original mandate in 1925 that primarily centred on forest fire prevention and maintaining BC’s BIG TREE Registry to become a broader organization that works with many community partners to provide online resources on an array of topics, that still includes forest fire prevention. The Big Tree Registry is now vested with UBC. Over the years, we have won many local, national and international awards, from the Vancouver Mayor’s Award for Environmental Achievement to recognition from the North American Association for Environmental Education.

What more needs to be done?

We all need to do a better job of listening to and learning from others around complex topics with ever-changing research and often alarming headlines, from climate change to LNG, forest management, fish farming and more. Listening with your mouth, as they say, isn’t respectful. For everyone’s sake, we must tone down the rhetoric and negativity. We really like what the Indigenous CEO of the First Nations LNG Alliance, Karen Ogen-Toews, Wet’suwet’en First Nation, advised recently during an interview with FORED. “Be teachable”.

How can our readers help?

Typical of many non-profits and charities, FORED has many requests for its services and programs but is challenged by funding or resources. We’re funded mainly through provincial gaming grants and the Vancouver Foundation. We welcome more individual and corporate supporters to carry on our legacy! During the pandemic, we were able to pivot to a largely online focus but have recently resumed more in-person activity. We just participated in the Vancouver School Board Sustainability Fair, where approximately 500 youths came out to learn about our programs, scholarships and artwork contests with $100 cash prizes. Please consider supporting our charity with your tax-deductible donation. A monthly donation of $5 goes a long way to help us continue our activities and support our volunteers.

Do you have any events coming up?

We are currently promoting our annual Indigenous Traditional Knowledge and Medicine Artwork Contest with $100 cash prizes.

We are also working with Indigenous and other NGO partners to conduct a national youth poll to be launched shortly. You can join our mailing list via the QR code to stay up to date on all our activities, as well as cash prize-winning contests, scholarships and more.

Where can we follow you?

Website | TwitterInstagram | Facebook

PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity/non-profit that you love?

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