Meet Marian McCoy, the W̱LC’s new Project Coordinator.


Can you tell me a bit about who you are and where you’re from?

My name is Marian McCoy, I grew up in Southern Ontario in the traditional territories of the Anishinaabe people. About 20 years later, I made my way to British Columbia. 

Can you share some of the background and experience you bring to this position?

My work in the last 18 years has been on Vancouver Island, in the unceded territory of the W̱SÁNEĆ people and the Lekwungen people. And it’s mostly been focused around ecological restoration and environmental assessment.

I’ve also really focused on invasive species management as a way to work towards restoration. I’ve also done policy work for the last several years, I worked for Provincial Government on developing policy for species and ecosystems at risk. And I’ve done a lot of restoration work as a consultant. Also, as an employee for federal parks or municipal parks. I’ve done quite a bit of volunteer hours doing restoration work in a number of different parks on the Saanich Peninsula,

I’m really pleased and honored to be offered the position of Project Coordinator for the Nature Smart Climate Solutions project. And yeah, I’m looking forward to getting started.

What kind of work will you be doing with the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council?

Because it’s still early days, I’m still learning and wrapping my head around that, but I believe a lot of it’ll be relationship building, so strengthening connections with the nations on the Peninsula and on the Gulf Islands, and also with various Nature Conservancy groups, Land Trusts, and other NGOs.

I’ll be making connections with municipal governments, and probably with Parks Canada as well at the federal level. Also, I’m going to be looking for funding to provide continuity for the project. And also for my position, carbon sequestration is a really big part of the project. So looking for ways to really solidify carbon sequestration and then working on calculations, so how we can demonstrate carbon sequestration.

And of course, a big part of this is all reconciliation, and working with elders, and I hope youth as well from W̱SÁNEĆ communities, there’s a lot of really exciting inter-community and interdisciplinary connection there.

What do you hope to accomplish with your work at the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council?

Yeah, that’s a great question. So within the first year, so I’m here for just under a year, at this time, really what I hope to accomplish is broadening the existing relationships.

And there are already quite a lot of relationships that have already been established, but perhaps solidifying some and then expanding those between the WLC and perhaps different levels of local and municipal governments and identifying some pilot projects, because that’s another component of the work, I know that there are pilot projects already identified and I’d like to identify more and of course, securing funding just for continuity.

I think, by the end of the year, if I can accomplish all of those things, then I’ll feel like I’ve done my job. 

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

Oh boy, be outside. I really love hiking. I’m fortunate to live close to the ocean, so I like walking down to the beach. I have a really mini garden here, so I like to putter in my very small garden. I also volunteer a fair bit of time at the Horticulture Center of the Pacific, so sometimes I teach there and I’m involved in some conservation work there as well. 

Is there anything else you’d like community members to know?

Something that I knew coming into this that I acknowledge, I have a lot to learn, and I’m looking forward to it, particularly working with the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council and with the local communities.

I plan to come into this work with some humility, and knowing that there are always new things to learn and I really look forward to the opportunity to work with elders and knowledge holders to learn more of an Indigenous perspective of plants. All my background is the Western science perspective on plants and ecosystems. And yeah, I’m really, really keen to do more of that and to learn more.