ELC Board member and donor Clare Frater, who is Director of Trust Area Services for Islands Trust, has been on the ELC Board since 2014.
ELC: What drew you to becoming an ELC Board member?
CLARE: The people involved in ELC are extraordinary and the projects that students produce really do help change the world. I was excited to have the opportunity to be involved and to help the organization thrive.
ELC: In addition to being an ELC Board member, your work has often had an environmental focus, from your past positions with the Ministry of Environment, Habitat Acquisition Trust to your current work as a Director of Trust Area Services at the Islands Trust. What drives your interest in the environment and conservation?
CLARE: I’m driven by a love of nature and a love of the Salish Sea region. I grew up in Brentwood Bay, two blocks from the ocean. As children, we were allowed to roam and explore – looking back that was such a gift! As a young adult, I was fortunate to have mentors such as Eric Lofroth, Andy MacKinnon, Andrew Harcombe, Bruce Whittington and Jan Garnett (my aunt) who inspired me and supported me in establishing a career in environmental protection.
ELC: You’ve been an ELC Board member since Jan 2014, and we’ve certainly been through a lot of changes over those years. How would you say you have witnessed the ELC’s growth in the time you’ve been a Board member?
CLARE: The ELC has always produced excellent work for community clients and provided students with practical, experiential learning to supplement their academic work. In recent years, the ELC has matured as an organization by undertaking evaluations and strategic planning, and developing governance materials. The ELC is also improving the ways in which it shares its stories – and, boy, there are so many great stories to tell!
ELC: What do you think people should know about the ELC?
CLARE: I think the ELC is one of Canada’s most worthy organizations. This small team of remarkable people are literally changing the world through legal research and representation for local communities, environmental groups, and First Nations. I sometimes joke that sitting through an ELC board meeting, where we consider which projects to take on, means that I know what the newspaper headlines are going to be in six months’ time!
Not only do the clients and the environment benefit, but society benefits long term from the mentoring of the next generation of public interest environmental lawyers. I recall the positive impact my mentors had on me as a young adult in shaping who I became and the career path I chose and I know that the ELC staff are having the same impact on the law students they work with.
ELC: What would you tell someone who is thinking about donating?
CLARE: I tell people that I promise they will be proud of how their donation is used. I donate annually to the ELC because I know that my donation is being used to help local communities, environmental groups, and First Nations advocate effectively for the environment. I also know that the training and mentoring of law students in the ELC will benefit our society in the long term.
Director of Trust Area Services, Islands Trust
In 1974, the BC government established the Islands Trust to preserve and protect the over 5,200 square kilometers of land and waters between the mainland and southern Vancouver Island. Through an elected council comprised of 26 local government representatives from 12 local trust areas and Bowen Island Municipality, the Trust manages development and land use planning decision making and works in cooperation with other levels of government to advance its preserve and protect mandate. The Trust also has a conservancy that holds conservation covenants and nature reserves and helps island communities protect significant natural and cultural features in the area.
In her role of Director of Trust Area Services, Clare supports elected officials, works with the management team, and supports a staff team that undertakes the non land use planning work of Islands Trust. This includes land conservation through the Islands Trust Conservancy, advocacy, communications and public engagement, secretariat services for coordination groups working in the region, and education programs. She also supports reconciliation efforts which are woven into everything the Islands Trust does.
“I love working in a job that aligns with my values. I care deeply about protecting ecosystems, species at risk and cultural heritage as well as supporting the development of sustainable island communities. The Gulf and Howe Sounds islands and the Salish Sea are so special and in need of protection. I am privileged to work with the dedicated, passionate people who are committed to the preserve and protect mandate of Islands Trust.
There are so many stories I could share from my 17 years with Islands Trust. Some of the highlights are sitting down for tea with a donor who wants to give their beloved land for a nature reserve, listening to Indigenous elders share cultural teachings, engaging with the public at island fall fairs and then watching gumboot dancing on my lunch break, the thrill of making a ferry after a long day of meetings, and late night agenda preparation with pizza and laughs.”