It’s been a busy and exciting month for Surfrider!

What a fun time hosting the photo booth for the Friends of Clayoquot Sound climate march, sharing your important messages for keeping the ocean clean. The ‘Bring your own bag’ campaign at the Xmas Jingle was a great way Surfrider got the message out to the community, with the help of Tuff City radio, to stop the use of single use plastic bags, thanks Cameron! It was awesome to see lots of happy shoppers and business who supported the campaign. The Wick Inn sponsored the December beach cleanup, 40 volunteers picked up a staggering 819 pieces of trash from North Chestermans beach, GO TOFINO! Most common pollutant was STYROFOAM. Also found was a dead bird, now with the Strawberry Isle team to look for plastics in the belly, and a Japanese plastic crate covered in barnacles, now with Ucuelet environmental research team interested in potential Tsunami debris. The debris data is used for preventative planning and WE NEED YOUR SOLUTIONS! Please come to a meet up or join the facebook group and get involved. With over 60 new volunteer sign ups, the group has been flushed with energy and new ideas! We have lots of new members, a new board, new local collaborations, and some great days on the beach to look forward to.

Surfrider caught up with Surfrider Ambassador, Tofino Paddle Surf owner and local legend Catherine Bruhwiler, to talk about the group and being barefoot

So Catherine, is Surfrider a surf club and why is there a group in Tofino?

Surfrider is not a surf club but a collective of individuals who love the ocean, that have come together and organized a powerful worldwide organization committed to protecting our oceans for us to be able to enjoy it. Ensuring that future generations get to enjoy and celebrate the ocean and waves the way we do.

Cool that we have a group in Tofino, how long have you been with Surfrider Catherine?

I have been involved with Surfrider since our local chapter was initiated by a group of awesome ladies years ago. I’ve participated with beach cleanups, kids projects, collaborations with awesome local surf competitions and other groups, and have enjoyed brainstorming with the group ever since.

That’s awesome! What achievements have you seen Surfrider do for Tofino?

Surfrider has done some great projects for our beaches including remote beach cleans like on Vargas last year, kids programs that brought so much awareness to our youth and a great sense of community achievement.

It’s so great to get the youth of Tofino involved and interested in the protection of the oceans and beaches. What are your concerns for the beaches and ocean in Tofino (and/or the world?)

My concerns are both small and wide, local and global in terms of the health of our oceans. It’s interesting with all the bad news and happenings in the world how being part of a movement, no matter how small, gives so much hope and a sense of personal responsibility and capability to make a difference. It’s powerful.  We need many answers to the issues facing the oceans…the micro plastics, and the threat to the ocean from industry. Working together is the only option!

Yes, Catherine, super important. Working together is something Surfrider is definitely looking to promote. You’ve lived in Tofino your whole life, what were the beaches like when you were a child? Bet you were super cute but mischievous?

Haha! I was a good kid. Just always barefoot and my parents never knew where we were…just outside somewhere… on the beach. Pretty safe place really… the beaches were very much the same, that’s what’s so amazing! When we were in the water (all the time!) and you looked back to the beach or around, up towards Rosy Bay or to Frank Island… there were no houses.  The roads were gravel around Chestermans and the hippies were carving naked down where the Wick Inn is now. There were more birds and less dogs for sure…much less trash. No surfers.  But that horizon, the glimmer of the sun on the water and the soft grey sand have always been just as lovely.

Sounds like paradise, how have things improved since you first joined Surfrider?

There is so much more education and awareness around the protection of the ocean & beaches, and lots more of the community and business coming forward with solutions and great ideas and events to enjoy the beach.

Do you think there’s more awareness today than when you were a child?

Def way more, I’m not gonna lie. I wasn’t raised thinking about recycling or global issues… we had logging to contend with and I did grow up around that protection movement which was strange, living and going to school in towns based on industry at the same time. But I guess that had an impact on us as young adults and standing up for what you love and believe isn’t so foreign to me.  But as a kid, running around on the beaches, there was no thought that any of this place we called our home and playground could ever be in any kind of danger or ever be taken away or changed, it was just a part of us, as breathing is.  There is just nothing you can take for granted that’s what I realize the most now.

What would you like to see Surfrider do in 2016?

I would love to see Surfrider grow and expand it’s potential here on our coast. With some stoke and a few hard working leaders I think this is a huge reality, and the impact Surfrider can have here is going to be amazing. More than anything Surfrider has the opportunity to draw a captive audience into the organization to work together to activate some big and small projects (ban the bag, cleaner water, involve the kids and the community!) That will make this place more conscious of our impact on the environment and our oceans on a personal level – this is the biggest catalyst for change and the one that will be passed on from person to person.

HIGH FIVE!!! Last question Catherine, what’s your favourite beach in the world and why?

I can think of so many beaches I love, there’s nowhere I’d rather be, ever, than the beach. My favourite one is always the one my friends and family are with me at 🙂


Massive thanks to Catherine and everyone who has contributed to Surfrider this month, the volunteers and sponsors are our lifeline! If you would like to collaborate with Surfrider, volunteer, sponsor, or just get involved, we’d love to hear from you. You can email, join the Facebook group ‘Surfrider Pacific Rim’ come to a meet up, join a beach clean, or shout across from your surf board. We are listening!

Written by: Michelle Hall