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General News · 1st December 2022
Kiera Tsakonas
Dear Cortes Island Community,

We would like to share with you what we've learned and accomplished together over the first 3 months of our programming. It’s been a dynamic learning experience for both students and facilitators in this journey to envision and provide an alternative mode of education. As some of you may know we have finished the instruction of two of the four courses being offered this year.

The first course kick started our semester off with energy, curiosity and dedication. Kai Harvey and Tosh Harvey through Cortes Kayaks co-facilitated the Outdoor Adventure Leadership module where they not only introduced the students to the ecosystems on Cortes Island, outlining the ecological and social importance of these places but also provided the students with the confidence and skills to navigate these outdoor spaces. The students worked to hone and challenge these skills through overnight trips to Marina Island and Carrington lagoon, and multiple day trips to Kwas Park, Hanks Beach, Smelt Bay and Linnaea Farm. Throughout the course the Kai and Tosh instilled in the students a sense of community, creating a strong basis for the rest of the semester.

The second course Our Oceans Aquaculture and Stewardship was co-facilitated by Sarrah Claman, Savanna Young and Kiera Tsakonas. In this course, the students explored science communication through the lens of local conservation issues and aquaculture. Organizations such as Hakai, Friends of Cortes Island Society, and the Starfish Canada as well as folks from Cortes Island generously shared their projects, livelihoods and knowledge with the students. Our field trips included a trip to a shellfish farm, Middlenatch Island and many hours exploring Manson's Lagoon on various projects. Through this course the students expanded their knowledge of the nuance of environmental issues and the role of local communities.

In less than two weeks, the Tools for Truth-Telling podcasting session has already introduced the students to lessons in the history of journalism versus myth, the technical skills of podcasting, and examples of different forms of journalistic podcasts. This session is being led by Manda Aufochs Gillespie ( and Morgan Tams ( with guest workshop leaders including the pulitzer prize nominated Rex Weyler and the producers of the CBC podcast Pressure Cooker.

The students have been participating in Teen Takeover Mondays at the radio station (tune in on Mondays at 3:30 p.m. at or 89.5FM) and on Fridays to assist with Folk U radio (tune in on Fridays at 1 p.m.)

In December, Reel Youth will take over instruction and lead the last course of the semester in film making. We’re excited for the community to see how the students will weave their unique experiences and perspectives into this medium of storytelling.

As we pass the halfway point in our first year of the Cortes Island Academy, we are reflecting on the tremendous amount of effort that folks have put into making this semester a reality. Thank you to all those who have contributed to this program, especially to the families who have welcomed Cortes Island Academy students into their homes.

The photos below provide snapshots into some of the experiences we’ve had in the semester thus far, for more please take a moment to visit the new website at []

With Appreciation,

CIA Team and the Cortes Island Community Foundation