Friends and family of Suzie Hamilton, the Nelson environmentalist who passed away in September, have started a legacy fund in her name at the the Osprey Foundation.
And BC Parks has named a part of the visitor centre at Kokanee Creek Visitor Centre the Suzy Hamilton Theatre.
Hamilton started the EcoSociety, ran the 1990s organization Kootenay Barter, created and hosted the EcoCentric show on Kootenay Co-op Radio, started the Nelson Garden Festival, and led the revitalized the Kokanee Creek Park visitor centre.
And she organized many environmental campaigns in the West Kootenay since the 1980s.
The legacy fund will give an award each year to a deserving West Kootenay female environmentalist.
“We are looking at continuing Suzy’s work, which was mentoring and encouraging a community of people who strived to make change happen in terms of our cultural practices around the environment,” says K.L. Kivi, a friend of Hamilton’s and one of the founders of the legacy fund.
“Many people came up to me at the memorial and said Suzy was the reason they did this or that. It was a consistent theme.
“Suzy worked a lot being the scenes nurturing peoples environmental consciousness.”
Kivi says that while Hamilton was ill, not long before she died, she and another friend took her out in a borrowed canoe.
“Suzy was telling me how healing it was for her to be out on the water. We told her she needs a kayak, and she said, ‘I can’t afford one.’”
They collected money among Hamilton’s friends and arranged to buy her a kayak, but she passed away in the meantime.
“We talked to the family about what we could do instead, and the concept of a legacy fund grew out of that nest egg of money. Now that it’s happening it really feels like the right thing.”
The Osprey Foundation’s fundraising goal for the fund is $10,000.
“One thing many people don’t realize,” says Osprey executive director Vivian Bowers, “is that the money that goes into a legacy fund is never touched, and it is the earnings on the money that goes out.”
She uses an apple tree metaphor.
“The money plants the tree but every year there is a harvest that goes to the community. The original nest egg is never touched.”
Osprey is a public, charitable foundation created by and for the people of Nelson and area with $88-million in a variety of endowed funds.
In a family legacy like Hamilton’s, Bowers says, “each year the family decides where the money is going to go.
“This is a way for people to have their own ideas about how to give back, but through a reputable organization that follows all the CRA regulations.
“Sometimes this gives families a way to remember the person, but also gives some purpose over the next few years to build up the fund, and to know that the fund is something that is very meaningful to their loved one.”
Details on how to donate to the Suzy Hamilton Legacy Fund can be found at ospreyfoundation.ca.
At Hamilton’s memorial service attended by hundreds of people in September at the Kokanee Creek Visitor Centre, BC Parks’ Hugh Ackroyd held up a new BC Parks sign that read ‘Suzy Hamilton Theatre,’ and announced the re-naming of the theatre in the Visitor Centre. (Photo above courtesy of Hugh Ackroyd, BC Parks)