A still from the documentary “Ecology Transforms Youth.” Photo supplied

Youth & Ecological Restoration triple celebration Feb. 21

Youth & Ecological Restoration (YER) is celebrating three events on Feb. 21, from 7-9 p.m. at the Upper Native Sons Hall. YER has now been operating in the Comox Valley for 15 years; the new YER video will be shown; and YER founder Wendy Kotilla has received a University of Victoria (UVic) 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award.

YER was created in 2004 to help vulnerable youth build healthy community relationships with the human and natural worlds. Youth restore local watersheds with community members to gain a sense of worth, belonging and place. They are engaged with one-on-one work experience through ecological restoration methods, ecotherapy practices and mentoring support. BC Ministry of Children and Family Development funds YER.

The YER film Ecology Transforms Youth was shown at the World Community Film Festival on Feb. 2. Created by filmmaker Ed Carswell (www.carswellfilm.ca), it follows eight youth as they explore the rivers and estuaries of the Comox Valley. The film was funded by the following community groups and individuals: Oyster River Enhancement Society; Courtenay & District Fish and Game Protective Association; Comox Valley Community Justice Centre; Tsolum River Restoration Society; Paul Horgen; Jane Gilcrest; Millard Piercy Watershed Stewards; Stewart McIntosh; Individual Contributions; Barbara and Gwyneth Huhn; and Cummings Home.

Kotilla received a UVic restoration of natural systems diploma in 2001. On Feb. 5, she was acknowledged at a UVic 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award ceremony along with 10 other recipients. This award was in recognition of YER. Wendy will present her award acceptance speech at the Feb. 21 event.

When YER was created 15 years ago, it was impossible to envision its longevity and success. It came from a dream to involve youth with ecology of place and help them to believe in themselves.

Please come and celebrate with YER on Feb. 21 from 7-9 p.m. at the Upper Native Sons Hall. Celebratory cake and coffee will be served. For more information, contact Kotilla at awkotilla@shaw.ca or 250-336-8487; visit the YER website at www.youthecology.ca

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