B.C. Wildlife Federation’s 67th Annual AGM & Convention begins today in Nanaimo. Our full annual report can now be viewed online: BCWF 2022 Annual Report.
Perception matters. How conservationists, hunters, sport shooters, and anglers are perceived by the public, the media, and prospective members is vital to the long-term success of the B.C. Wildlife Federation. Over the past year, we have dedicated ourselves to changing the narrative, shaking off negative preconceptions, and growing our stature as British Columbia’s premier conservation organization.
Based on thorough, professional market research, we know the BCWF is well-respected relative to other non-governmental organizations. We also know that our membership is aging and less diverse than British Columbia at large. Despite a large contingent of hunters and anglers, we are woefully underrepresented on the Lower Mainland, B.C.’s population centre and political decision-making hub. That is a problem I am keen to address.
If the B.C. Wildlife Federation is to survive and thrive, we must attract younger and more diverse members. On that front, there are excellent prospects. People, especially young people, have never been more concerned and cognizant about sustainability, where their food comes from, and connecting with nature. That has led to a resurgence of interest in farming, foraging, hunting, and angling, particularly among women, the fastest growing demographic in the hunting world. We only need to open our arms and, importantly, we need to be seen as a community that teaches and nurtures.
The BCWF is successfully reaching a new audience on Instragram, YouTube, and TikTok. We have developed educational resources for aspiring hunters and anglers, webinars, and instructional videos all of which are specifically designed to appeal to women and young urbanites. These are demographics that we need to grow, and the early returns are very encouraging. Programs such as Becoming an Outdoors Woman and the Women Outdoors Skills and Experience Program are not just full but expanding due to enthusiastic demand. We are and will be looking for our seasoned members to support these programs through dedicated volunteerism.
Where hunting and angling skills have not been passed down to the next generation, we will be mentors. Our experienced members are ready and willing to share expertise and knowledge they have gathered over a lifetime.
Programs such as Wild Kidz, Fishing Forever, Gently Down the Seymour, the National Archery in Schools Program, and countless events held by member clubs for the benefit of their communities aim to make outdoor activity, hunting, and fishing a core part of the culture of the modern family. The values we offer are togetherness, safety, health, and a connection to nature.
With a new media relations veteran on staff, we have extended our reach into media channels that have long eluded us, including The National Post, The Globe & Mail, The Vancouver Sun, The Narwhal, and CBC. In 2022, the BCWF’s print media penetration soared to more than 1,700 mentions and 450 million views.
Through our new fulltime Conservation, Hunting, Angling, and Firearms Policy & Engagement Coordinator, we are reaching out to clubs to support their community initiatives and to help them establish and maintain productive relationships with local elected officials, MLAs, and MPs. These relationships are essential to ensure that misguided legislation is stopped before irreparable damage is done to our lives and traditions. This past year, we successfully halted new regulations that would have closed rifle ranges and paused legislation that would ban popular hunting rifles.
We must continue to educate our elected officials and to express our values to them as often as possible. We must continue to press forward on partnerships and Reconciliation with First Nations. We must ensure that British Columbians can plainly see that hunters and anglers are first and foremost conservationists.
The BCWF board members are more engaged than ever with the day-to-day operations and challenges that we face as an organization by meeting every month to keep apprised of issues as they arise. I have made it my goal to ensure that the board, staff, and our members understand our mission and how we are going to get there. When board members and regional presidents are fully briefed on our activities and goals, they can better communicate our priorities and successes to members, eliminating knowledge gaps that have plagued us in the past.
The BCWF does more than talk about conservation. Our habitat restoration projects enhance thousands of square metres of riparian areas, wetlands and productive meadows. Our volunteers work 300,000 hours each year on projects that benefit wildlife and the environment. We engage thousands of young people each year in camps, classroom education, and the National Archery in the Schools Program.
Our dedication to changing the narrative and perceptions around hunting, angling, and sport shooting is paying off. Our persistence in advocacy is making a difference in key areas. We are seeing the media side with us on major issues that are important to our membership, such as firearms ownership and science-based wildlife management. These are big strides towards a better future for the B.C. Wildlife Federation, our members, and all hunters and anglers, and we are laying the foundation to tackle the challenges that will come next.