The Youth and Ecological Restoration Program reached a ten year milestone last year. To commemorate this milestone we had a celebration at Zocalo Cafe and prepared a thorough review of the program. (See embedded report below.)
“As creator and coordinator of YER, I have witnessed 250 youth gain self confidence and respect as they learn about the ecology of this place with the support of caring community members. It has been an amazing gift to walk with them on this small part of their journey.”
Wendy Kotilla

Wendy had this incredible determination and this dogged persistence and she stuck with it and when you look at the presentation she made tonight the results are absolutely incredible. Wendy has a tremendous heart for the outdoors and for environments of all the living things in our wonderful world and she also has a tremendous heart for our young people and for providing an opportunity for them. And the vision she had in this program of bringing those two things together and what I think is a tremendously unique aspect of this program.

It gives an opportunity for our young people to work hand in hand with the elders of the community, with people who have demonstrated a lifetime of care and responsibility for our natural systems. They have so much wisdom and such a fine example to impart and these are transformative experiences for the young people who have been involved, make no doubt about that. You saw the testimonies there in the video.

I would really like to see this program replicated in other parts of the province. I’ve always had a firm belief that in BC we have this tremendous wilderness and we don’t make enough use of it as a teacher and a laboratory place for our young people where they can learn stewardship and all the lessons that the natural world has to offer. It’s a winning formula that you’ve developed and part of the reason we haven’t been able to replicate this elsewhere is because you’re so incredibly unique and it really is the unique qualities that you bring that makes this program happen.

So I just want to give you a tremendous thank you from the ministry and the government of British Columbia. I am also privileged to be a representative of the City of Courtenay and bring you greetings and gratitude from the city. Thank you so, so much for the tremendous work that you’re done. Congratulations on all the accomplishments of ten years and the difference that you are making every day. I wish you all the best for at least another ten years. Thank you, Wendy.

Doug Hillian

Invited Speaker, MCFD, Director of Practice/North Island, Vancouver Island Youth Justice Director; City of Courtenay, Councilor