What defines a Cowichan Changemaker?
Our Changemakers are the influencers, activators, connectors and innovators within the Cowichan Valley. Whether working in business or volunteering for community organizations, they are the builders and collaborators who embody new ways of doing things. Changemakers see the potential that others miss and they connect the dots between people and ideas. Join us in celebrating and learning about the people who are shaping the future of the Cowichan Region.
Judy Stafford | Cowichan Green Community
Bringing people back to the land
Vancouver-born Judy Stafford followed many paths before finding the job that, as she says, aligns with her passions. As Executive Director of Cowichan Green Community Society (CGC), she works with like-minded individuals and organizations focusing on topics such as environmental sustainability, social innovation and food security. Most importantly, she builds networks, connecting people, projects and communities with the land that sustains them.
Since 2004, CGC has initiated an incredible array of programs aimed at bringing people closer to the land, sharing knowledge between generations and increasing the region’s food security and diversity. Successful projects include an incubator seed farm, the FruitSave program, jobs training, forage gardens and an online farmers market, all coordinated from CGC’s offices in “The Station,” their green-sensitive facility in the heart of Duncan. This year, Judy has led the expansion of the CGC from being a non-profit society into being a charitable foundation—the next step in its continuing evolution.
Creating a unique wine profile in the valley
Tim Turyk came by his love of the Cowichan Valley naturally – as a child, he summered at nearby Shawnigan Lake, just as his mother, Marjorie Unsworth, had before him. In 2009, ready for a second career, he heard of a small vineyard for sale in the region. He and his wife Colleen took one look at the property and quite literally bought the farm, naming it after Tim’s mother.
In the intervening years, the Turyks and their team have built up the Unsworth brand while embracing sustainable vineyard techniques – planting the right varieties in the right locations in order to create great wine. They have also embraced the region’s culinary movement, operating an award-winning on-site restaurant with its own chef.
Unsworth wines – red, white and rosé – have received recognition and awards in BC and nationally. With more grape varieties ripening in the fields, the future for this thriving business looks very bright indeed.
Cobble Hill Village
Shaping a future together
There’s a new energy cropping up in Cobble Hill Village. A community that has its roots in agriculture is now sowing new ideas about how to promote and enhance the village and connect it with other village centres across South Cowichan. Local merchants have banded together to form the Cobble Hill United Merchants Society, a friendly and collaborative organization that is putting their community on the map by honouring the village’s rural past and embracing new partnerships that will shape the future.
Marston Family / Coast Salish Artists
Melding tradition and innovation
John, Luke and Angela Marston grew up watching their parents, Jane and David Marston, and other accomplished Coast Salish carvers, observing the masters at work, absorbing traditional methods and listening to their people’s legends. John and Luke turned first to carving, while Angela became an expert in weaving cedar bark. As their mastery grew, they each realized the importance of carrying on cultural traditions while making room for the stories of a new generation.
Today, all three of them work in a range of materials, creating highly sought-after pieces that both honour the past and embrace the contemporary. Each of them uses traditional processes and tools to create highly personal expressions of their culture. Their work is represented in galleries, through important commissions and in private collections. Now masters themselves, they are turning toward the young people in their community, ready to support and nurture the next generation of Coast Salish artists.
Jock and Carmen Hildebrand | Shibui Fine Art
Bringing energy and expertise to a new stage of life
Jock and Carmen Hildebrand came to Cowichan from the Okanagan out of love, after falling head over heels for a property they saw on the internet. Far from wanting to retire, they came with the desire to build on their years of experience in the art community and, in Jock’s case, a career as a sculptor which has seen his installations displayed around the world.
As soon as they settled onto their property in Maple Bay, they got to work, making connections in the local arts community, building a bronze foundry and opening the Shibui Gallery, which displays pieces from artists around Cowichan. Carmen is now Executive Director of the Cowichan Valley Arts Council, and Jock is involved in a variety of public art projects. Together, they contribute energy, creativity and business acumen to Cowichan – a place they see not as a bucolic hideaway but as a dynamic hub for artistic expression.