High school student Katia Bannister of Thetis Island and her friends recently spent a rainy Sunday doing their part for the environment.
Bannister, 17, who attends Queen Margaret’s School in Duncan, noted in a Facebook post she considered herself lucky enough to help make a difference by participating in a restoration event at Bing’s Creek organized by the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society on #cowichanmakeadifferenceday.
What Bannister and her friends uncovered was a lot of garbage, some left behind by walkers, hikers and bikers and other items that originated from people partying in the forest who didn’t bother cleaning up after themselves. A lot of what they encountered, however, was the deteriorating remains of living spaces that had since been abandoned.
“There are homeless people living in our conservation areas,” noted Bannister. “And it’s not good. Not for the health of the ecosystem, and not for the health of our most vulnerable. It is true that some homeless people choose not to, or are not in a place where they can live in shelters or seek help, but it is also true that there are homeless people in our communities who do not have other options, or access to the resources they need.
“Everything is connected. Homelessness, the job and affordability crises, conservation and climate change – they are all connected, and they are all community issues that require community action. The most vulnerable people in our communities need the support of those of us with the most security – that’s really what community is about: thinking and acting with the collective in mind. Knowing that we can make a difference, and doing it because we care, and because the health of our communities is reflected in ourselves.”
Mom Kelly Bannister was obviously proud of her daughter and her friends for spending their day that way.
“When I sometimes read comments online written by adults criticizing the efforts of our local youth, calling them lazy or addicted to technology or uninformed or idealistic, I just want to ask them: ‘How did you spend your Sunday?’” she confided.
This is not a one-time Sunday volunteer effort, either, she added, “but a tide change of ongoing collective contributions spearheaded by concerned and generous youth who are not afraid of long treks, muddy feet or tough topics when they believe in what they are working towards: a more cared-for earth for all of us.”
Meanwhile, Katia Bannister has been enlisted as the second speaker for the Women Who Inspire Online Conference, a fundraiser for the Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre, on Sunday, Nov. 15 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
She will be speaking about ‘Intergenerational collaboration: Bridging the generation gap to create meaningful action and social change.’
Bannister, 17, is a co-leader of the Cowichan Valley Earth Guardians crew, a group of youth who strive to create meaningful change involving social and environmental issues.
She has a passion for restoration and conservation work, poetry, blogging and is currently learning to speak the Hul’qumi’num language. Bannister plans to pursue a career in ethnoecology.