Volunteer Spotlight September 2019 - Karen Mann

In this September edition of HAT’s volunteer spotlight, we’d like to introduce you all to Karen Mann! Born and raised in Victoria, BC, Karen says that she has seen Greater Victoria change quickly, especially in the last 10 years. “We are losing all the little pockets of natural flora. I love that HAT facilitates the preservation natural areas.” It is that love local places and the more-than-human neighbours that share them with us that brought Karen to start volunteering with HAT about three years ago while looking for ways to use her knowledge and experience.

“I have worked with plants and soil‘s all my life and I’m certified in landscape design, currently working at LandStory Design Associates. Most recently I extend my education with Restoration of Natural Systems at University of Victoria. I have practical experience in stream restoration.” With that wealth of knowing, and with her passion for hiking with her dog, creating outdoor spaces that bring peace and serenity and learning about growing vegetables, we at HAT consider ourselves really lucky to have someone like Karen willing to spend some time on habitat management and restoration on the conservation areas that HAT stewards.

“I hope to continue learning until I die and this position here at HAT will help me explore areas I haven’t any experience in. I’m looking forward to learning from co-worker’s knowledge and their different ways of approaching problems.”


Ripping & Stripping at Havenwood

One of the best kept secrets in Colwood is a small park of 40 acres, on either sides of the Veteran Memorial Parkway near Latoria Road.  Most people might know the park as a great place to walk your dog or exercise going up the 90 steps and then back down as fast as you can.  One lady I talked to has to keep pebbles on one side to remember how many ups she has done.

Another activity in the park is on Friday mornings, when a small, dedicated team helps in the remediation of invasive species in the park.  This team has been meeting, come rain or shine, for over 5 years and have been removing the scotch broom, blackberries, daphne laurel and holly.   

Havenwood Park has two main trails and provides access to Lookout Lake. One of the smaller trails, the Olympic View Trail slopes upward to an incredible view point over the forest and across the Salish Sea to the Olympic Mountains in the distance.

If you want to join in the team fun of restoring the park all you just need about 2 hours of your time every Friday morning.  Everyone is welcome.  Contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


A Day on the Beach at Scia'new

In the first week of August HAT Staff had the honor of being invited once again out with the Scia’new First Nation Youth Field team for a day at the beach with elder Henry Chipps. Henry Chipps is not only full of wisdom about the land and its history, but he is also the resident archaeologist. With his guidance and knowledge he lead the youth though an archaeological dig where less than a foot beneath the soil the evidence of long term site use was uncovered once again.

It was an incredible day full of discoveries, conversation, salty water and sandy strawberries. It is such a pleasure to work with Youth out in nature and a great privilege to learn from a respected elder in the community. We look forward to seeing you all again soon.


Volunteer Spotlight July 2019 - Jenny Caws

For the last four months Jenny has been volunteering her evenings and weekends for HAT’s Stewardship programs. Jenny is always up for learning new things, and has specifically been helping with nest box monitoring and data management for the Western Screech Owl Program. On top of all of this, Jenny is also a team leader for one of the groups working on the Summer Bat Survey, a program that is doing a great job with our nocturnal winged friends, and in outreaching to local communities. Jenny brings a wealth of knowledge about biology, wildlife conservation, and professional experience with a strong background in marine species of the Salish Sea. Her stellar worth ethic, passion for conservation, and dedication to any task is an inspiration to us at HAT. Thank you Jenny for joining us!


Wearing a new HAT

A’si’em nu schala’cha/Greetings friends,

It is a pleasure and a deep joy to wish you all a happy “hello” as HAT’s new Community & Development Coordinator! Even as these sorts of changes come with a certain amount of excitement. It’s with that in mind that my hopes for this – my first – post to the HAT blog begins by thanking Ashlea Veldhoen for being such a central part of the HAT community for the past (roughly) two years. Ashlea’s voice is all over HAT’s website, pamphlets, and newsletters, her energy the static that bound events together and we wish Ashlea well on her new adventures, and hope for the best in her quest to be a bird banding pro.

Part of my new role is to work with HAT’s awesome staff and community to come up with fun, exciting, and informative communications materials to keep that community informed. One of my first tasks in this regards is to work on this introductory post for the HAT blog. It’s too bad, really, that my first post isn’t about more covenants being monitored, or photos of a whole new bunch of bard owl chicks greeting the night for the first time…rather, it’s about me. But working in community is deeply important to me, and has informed a lot of my decisions in the last decade. Even with the internet being mostly a one-way medium, my hope is that this post will serve as a starting point for many conversations with the members, supporters, and volunteers that make HAT such an amazing place to work.

When my partner and I moved to L’kwungen and WSÁNEĆ from Osheaga (Montral) in 2015, working for an environmental NGO was still something of a dream of mine. Having grown up a predominantly Euro-North American settler in Anishnabek, Huron-Wendat and Haudenosaunee territory (Lanark and the Ottawa valley) and Montreal, much of my time was spent canoeing some of the spectacular lakes and rivers of the east, and hiking or skiing the rolling hills of the Laurentian and Appalachian mountains. Most of my early experiences on the land were with my parents, and it was through them that my connection with place began. (Un)Fortunately, given the drive of this world, spending time in a forest or along the banks of a river never seemed like a way to make a living for me, and my professional life took me far from those places that spoke to me.

The sound of industrial motors that powered massive machines and the breath of long-haul trucks made up a good portion of my early working years, and “nature” quickly became the backdrop for weekend adventures. After nearly a decade in logistics, a friend convinced me to give university a try, a privilege that many other people in this country and around the world are unable to even consider. It was this privilege and my growing awareness of it that informed my decision to study history, and carried me through the Quebec Student Movement as a participant and as an organizer for a graduate association. Social justice, in a large city like Montreal, can often miss the forest for the cement, and once again, the hills, forests, and valleys were relegated to pastimes, to those stolen moments between deadlines or marches.

All of this changed when we decided to move to Vancouver Island. Very quickly, the path that my feet had been walking started to take some unexpected turns, leading me to realize that working for the ecosystems that have sustained me and my ancestors was not only a dream, it was entirely possible (even without an ecology or biology degree!). Luckily, the Nature Conservancy of Canada was hiring at the time, and their development team was a perfect spot for me to familiarize myself with conservation, fundraising for eNGOs, and to begin growing my own roots into the vibrant conservation community in BC while honing my outreach abilities and getting to know the local landscape.

My good luck continued as working for NCC also put me in close contact with HAT. When life’s path again began to wind and twist and my tenure at NCC came to a close, it was at the same time that the HAT team was looking for someone to try and fill the gap that was going to be left by Ashlea’s departure. Having spent 2 years working in the same building as HAT and having spoken to staff and even members, working at HAT was not an opportunity I wanted to miss out on.

Sure, sitting in an office on Burnside Road East looks somewhat removed from the oasis of Matson Conservation Area, from the gripping beauty of the Sooke Hills, or from the rolling surf of Diitiida (Jordan River), those places that mean so much to me (and to many, many people) feel less distant. Especially in spirit. No longer are places that speak and call to me the providence of “free” time when my work is done, they are with me here, as they are with each of us in HAT’s community. They are the places that we bear witness for, and that we hope to protect from development for future generations of all species. They are why volunteers volunteer, donors donate, members vote in AGMs, and why I log on to my computer in the morning.

We are those places.

Hay’sxw’qa/Thank you for reading. If you’d like to chat about HAT, membership, my role here, or just to share with us, stop by the HAT office (202-661 Burnside Rd. E.), or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. There’s still heaps for me to learn about HAT, and still a full calendar of things for us to organize before summer gives way to fall (and before I really am caught up fully!), but at least we’re all in this together.


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