Places to Visit and Learn

No matter your age, learning about the environment and our local ecosystems is fun!

Whether you’re getting outside to a local park or trail, learning about the marine environment such as intertidal critters through touch tanks at an aquarium, or learning about Indigenous cultures on the land that you live on through virtual or in person field trips, there is so much to explore.

To get you on your way, we have compiled a map and a list below of great places and events to visit for you to get to know the coast of Vancouver Island!

Which ones have you visited? Are there any that we missed? Let us know by emailing ksheehan@psf.ca.

Click the map to explore!

How does visiting places benefit salmon?

Getting out to learn and appreciate nature, salmon, and First Nations culture encourages us to take care of our land and water and be better stewards for Pacific salmon.

Here are some places to check out:

Museums, aquariums, nature centres, and more

Museums

Rainy day with nothing to do? Check out some of our Island's great museums!

Aquariums

Vancouver has a renowned aquarium, but did you know about these gems on Vancouver Island? Dive into the fascinating world of marine life on our coasts at

  • the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea  in Sidney where you may see a giant Pacific octopus play with toys and hear fascinating lectures!
  • the Ucluelet Aquarium, Canada’s first collect-and-release aquarium! Located on the traditional territory of the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ (Ucluelet) First Nation, this facility features many native fish and invertebrate species who are collected from the local waters, then returned after a short residency. The aquarium is also a part of many initiatives to map and protect nearshore habitats like eelgrass, and clean up microplastics and marine debris from their shorelines, and
  • the Discovery Passage Aquarium in Campbell River, which offers a 'hands on' experience and offers summer camps and school programs.

Nature Centres

Many national, provincial, and regional parks on Vancouver Island have nature houses or nature centres to learn about the features, ecology, and culture of the area. A few to check out include

  • the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre, an interpretive centre overlooking the Cowichan Estuary. Over 80% of the area’s wildlife use the estuary. You can learn about many of them and even observe some close up in their aquariums, touch tank, and microscopes! The nature centre offers immersive learning programs for students from kindergarten to grade 12 on topics like estuary ecosystems, microplastics pollution, and ecological restoration.

And more...

Explore Through a First Nations’ Lens

There is no better way to learn about our natural places than from the First Nations who have stewarded these lands since time immemorial. On Vancouver Island, we live on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish, Nuu-chah-nulth and Kwakwakaw’akw Peoples. Check out Indigenous Tourism BC’s list of other places to visit on the mainland too to learn about the Indigenous cultures of BC.

Become familiar with the traditional place names where you live, the Nations on whose territory you live and work, and the history of colonization on these lands. With the Native Land interactive map, you can explore different areas to view the traditional territories, treaties, as well as the languages spoken by the Indigenous group.

Here are some amazing places to visit on Vancouver Island:

Visit Parks!

The best way to learn is by getting out there! Check out BC’s beautiful national and provincial parks, as well as regional parks and nature reserves.

The Province of BC has even created this interactive map where you can visualize all the parks in BC, as well as current closures or restrictions. Many parks have information centres where you can pick up brochures and maps, and learn about the history of a place and the nature it protects.

It is important to recognize the connections that Indigenous peoples and communities have with these special places having managed them for millennia. Read about Parks Canada’s commitment to honour the contributions and history of Indigenous people, co-management projects, and resources here.

Explore the parks in your own backyard

Here are a few suggestions for getting out there and enjoying your local areas along with links to regional directories to help you find outdoor adventures:

Victoria

Duncan

Nanaimo

Port Alberni

Comox

Campbell River

Events

Special events can be an excellent way to learn about local initiatives and get some hands-on learning experiences. There are many events around the Island that celebrate our coast, native species, and, of course, Pacific salmon. Keep an eye on your local newspaper to find other events near you and check out our events page to find ones Resilient Coasts for Salmon will be at!

Spring

Summer

Fall

  • Learn about salmon and hatchery production right at the source! Each fall, the Nanaimo River Hatchery hosts their Spawning Day event, where you can watch an egg take, make a fish print masterpiece, and even release a fry in the river! Check out their Facebook page to learn more!

Want to be even more involved?

Virtual exploring options

Photo credits: Susanne Jutzeler, suju-foto on Pexels, Kyla Sheehan, Nicole Christiansen

Join a Local Stewardship Group

Joining a stewardship group is a great way to meet like-minded people, learn, and support your local community and environment!

Stewardship is defined as ‘the way in which we take care of something.’ It is about taking responsibility to promote, monitor, conserve and restore ecosystems for current and future generations of all species.

There are three types of environmental stewards:

  • Doers help out by taking action on the ground.
  • Donors help by donating money, land or other resources.
  • Practitioners work to steer agencies, scientists, property owners or managers, stakeholder groups or other groups toward a stewardship outcome.

There are Endless Ways to Become a Doer!

There are so many ways you can actively contribute to looking after your local environment.

Care for Your Local Ecosystems

Interested in keeping our shorelines free of litter? Join a beach clean-up event with local organizations like the Surfrider Foundation, World Wildlife Fund and Peninsula Streams Society.

You can lend a hand to reducing the invasive species in your community and local parks, participate in other habitat restoration activities like seagrass restoration, become a StreamKeeper, or do any other activity that helps the environment that is close to your heart.

Become a Citizen Scientist

You could also become a “citizen scientist” - someone that does not necessarily have a science degree but has the skills, interests, or resources to contribute to furthering scientific knowledge.

As a citizen scientist you can help collect valuable data on conservation initiatives like mapping kelp beds by kayak to better understand how kelp populations are changing, or participating in a BioBlitz in your area to help gather a snapshot of the biodiversity (and therefore the ecological health) of where you live!

Here are some examples of citizen science opportunities:

Share Your Knowledge

You can even share your passion and knowledge by being a volunteer with educational centres such as local museums or aquariums, like the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea in Sidney, BC. You may just inspire others to appreciate what you love.

Ready to Find a Local Environmental Cause?

Search the map below for local NGOs and stewardship groups to help you find one nearby that matches your interests.

Click on the map to be linked to an interactive version where you can find the location of NGO's and stewardship groups in your areas that you can join or support.

No Step is Too Small

Truthfully, you don't need to be a part of an organization to be an environmental steward. You can work towards giving natural ecosystems a boost – even in your front yard or neighbourhood! A fun stewardship action could be constructing a garden on your boulevard or to convert your lawn into a meadow to support native pollinators. Native pollinators in your region have co-evolved with native plants, supporting them with food, shelter and habitat to keep reproducing!

You could work towards reducing stormwater runoff in your neighbourhood, take steps to be more eco-friendly in the garden, or while out on your boat.

Photo credits: Maria Catanzaro