By contributor Chantelle Spicer

Spring is a time of change and abundance around the Salish Sea. The first budding shrubs—the Indian Plum—are already upon us, with delicate white flowers soon to come. White fawn lilies decorate the ground of Bowen Park, getting every bit of sun possible before the deciduous trees above them burst into fresh spring leaf. It is not only the flora that are waking up with the warmer weather—bird song fills the air from sunrise to sunset, and fawns are already being spotted (pun intended).

The Brant Wildlife Festival is a community acknowledgement of the wildlife that is a part of our ecosystem year-round, as well as the much appreciated migrant visitors who utilize it. Taking place along the shores between Qualicum Beach and Parksville, the festival invites participants to take part in activities to gain insight into the dynamic relationships happening around us.

This year, the festival is taking place March 19 to April 15, and is hosting a range of events, from high teas to carving and art shows, eagle releases to wildlife tours and even a nature camp for children on spring break. The Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute (MABRRI) and VIU students are also taking part in the events calendar.

On Sunday, April 17, the Institute will host a mini-BioBlitz, where participants will be joined by expert scientists and students to learn about the diverse ecosystem of the wetlands and forest. The event will have teams ranging over the landscape identifying and counting species of plants and birds, which will become a part of a yearly inventory for the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region.

In coming years, there may be different areas to be inventoried, adding to the knowledge of the entire region. By becoming a part of the BioBlitz, participants are able to become a significant and ongoing part of the scientific knowledge of the ecosystem, learning how to do this type of research themselves. As citizen scientists, they will have the opportunity to work on their own inventory in the future.

The 10 students involved in organizing the event come from a diverse academic background, ranging from Forestry to Recreation and Tourism, each bringing their unique perspectives along with them. Under the faculty guidance of Michele Valee and coordinators of MABRRI, this student-powered event plans to be very impactful.

Kayla Harris, a fourth-year Geography student and event organizer, explains that by MABRRI doing events and research like this, “we can work towards this land and region being taken more seriously.” Collected data will be made available through the Royal BC Museum and is accessible to all scientists and the public alike. It may also be used by VIU students and MABRRI work-op students in university projects, applying experiential learning gained in the field.

The intent behind BioBlitz and the Brant Festival is that people are a part of the natural world—that this relationship is to be celebrated. It is a collaborative endeavour, bringing together communities, government, and organizations with a goal of fostering this connection.

The location and time of the event has yet to be announced, as agreements are being formed with Island Timberlands for land use. Please refer to for more information.

For more information on the Brant Wildlife Festival and to see the full list of events, visit