16th Annual Corn Festival – 2019

Recently celebrated the 16th annual and our 9th Fiesta Del Maize (Corn Festival) at Britannia Community Services Centre in partnership with organizers Canada El Salvador Action Network (CELSAN). Was another fun community event with lots of tasty food and great music celebrating Latin American culture. So thankful for this collaboration with the Salvadoran community and enriching all our lives in East Vancouver.

An important aspect to this festival is the celebration and awareness of the importance of corn to the people of Latin America. This is critically important in view of the fact that a very high percentage of corn now grown in Latin America is GMO which relies heavily on industrial inputs and pesticides such as Roundup. This agrochemical system is completely replacing hundreds of traditional corn varieties in Latin America and at the same time increasing food security risk in Latin America. Since corn is one of the more common GMO foods, it is important that you inquire if your corn purchase is GMO or not.

Wild Minds 2019 Day 10 (Last Day)

What a wonderful two weeks it was working with a really great group of youth from Britannia School and East Vancouver. Also great working with Brennan, our co-organizer from the Environmental Youth Alliance who helped create an engaging and fun program for the youth. For two weeks the youth learned about native plants, birds, insects, food growing, and ecology all the while playing, learning, exploring, and goofing around in one of the most beautiful places in Vancouver – The Strathcona and Cottonwood Community Gardens. All the youth reported feeling a closer connection to nature through this program, while learning new skills and building new friendships.

Check out more Wild Minds 2019 photos. https://www.flickr.com/photos/gwfc/albums/72157709849190891

Wild Minds 2019 – Day 9

Went over to the Environmental Youth Alliance Youth Garden and dug into some work. Spent most of the day clearing away some invasive and weeds, replacing Himalayan Blackberry, which can quickly overwhelm and smoother all other plants in time, with new native plants, including Salal, Salmonberry, Huckleberry and a few other plants and this creating much more plant diversity. Looked like the youth had fun.

Wild Minds 2019 Day 8

Shifting from birds to bees today with bee lover and expert Marika from the Environmental Youth Alliance teaching us all about pollinators (yes, even wasps and flys are pollinators). It is not too hard to love a bee and all pollinators especially when we realize that their pollination accounts for 35% of food production. Armed with nets, the youth live trapped various insects to identify and release, providing the youth a close up opportunity to get to know these wonderful creatures and their interdependence with all life. Super cool was that one of the youth possibly caught a queen honey bee, a rare catch.


Wild Minds 2019 Day 7

Another bird day with guest presentation by OWL Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society whose mission is the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of raptors (eagles, falcons, hawks, osprey, owls, and vultures). The youth got to meet Flinger, a Roadside Hawk native to South America likely brought up to Canada illegally, as well as Jesse, a Barred Owl and who suffered a head trauma after being hit by a car. Was great to see the birds up close and learn about these amazing raptors. Who knew that owls could turn their heads 270 degrees or that Peregrine Falcons are the fastest bird and can dive at 320km/hr. Later we dissected Owl pellets, which we discovered are actually regurgitated rather than being pooped out because they include indigestible material left in the gizzard such as teeth, skulls, claws, and feathers and are too dangerous to pass through the rest of the owl’s digestive tract. Without knowing what the owls were fed, after dissecting the bones, we were able to determine if the owl had eaten a mouse, shrew, mole, rat and how many. As it turns out Owls usually eat two rodents/day. Was a pretty cool and interesting activity for the youth.

Wild Minds 2019 Day 6

Went on a great field trip to the 300 acre Maplewood Flats Conservation Area and the Wild Bird Trust of Britsh Columbia where the youth did a little habitat restoration work including moving rock to help buttress the shoreline and clearing old dead salal, then some bird watching where we saw a nesting osprey, and a plant walk with Squamish ethnobotanist Senaqwila Wyss. Maplewood Flats is a particularly interesting site administered by the Municipality of North Vancouver but adjacent the səl’ilwətaɁɬ reserve along Dolarton Highway in North Van. It is also the site of a reconciliation effort by the Wild Bird Trust Board who are working with the səl’ilwətaɁɬ to help restore the habitat, including the original mudflats and clam beds through a shared management agreement and ideally a returning of this land to the səl’ilwətaɁɬ Nation.