Chapter 1 / Collective Features
Interview by: Courtney Chew
Words by: Hannah Chew
Photography by: Courtney Chew
Protect where we play.
At OCIN, it’s a commitment that we have made to do what we can when we can in making conscious choices that will minimize our impact on the earth. We’re ocean lovers that know that there’s a balance that comes with being able to have fun in the waves – we have a responsibility to respect and take care of it as well so that we can continue to enjoy it.
Surfrider is a global organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans, waves, and beaches, with close to 80 Chapters driving forward the initiatives and campaigns supporting their mission. They are one of the many that hold us accountable, teaches us, and inspires us.
We had a chance to sit down with Yura and Kat, the Chair and Vice-Chair leading the Surfrider Chapter in Vancouver. We are constantly inspired by their passion and drive to collectively make a positive impact through their 100% volunteer based team. They've championed multiple campaigns that have helped impact change, and have led over fifty beach cleanups, including one in 2017 that brought 200 of us together. Join us one day on their beach cleanups.
We’re stoked to be a part of their community and to share their stories in this first issue of our OCIN Magazine. Read below to get to know Yura, Kat, and the Vancouver Surfrider team.
Vice Chair, Kat, describes Surfrider as a non-profit organization committed to the preservation and protection of our environment. Those involved in this project, however, will agree that the community Surfrider has cultivated over the past 34 years represents so much more.
With over 50 000 members worldwide, Surfrider has developed an ever growing network of like-minded individuals, all striving towards a simple goal — looking after our oceans, and all of the experiences they have to offer.
“We are a community of ocean enthusiasts across the world, who all share a common connection and passion towards the ocean. We believe in creating change by working together with people, as opposed to going against the flow. We are living the idea that every single person is responsible for what’s around you.”
For Yura and Kat, they have stressed how it’s not about being perfect, it’s about awareness and being conscious of your actions. Kat sums up this message in a concise quote—
It’s only one straw, said 8 billion people.
Surfrider currently has three chapters in Canada in Tofino, Victoria and Vancouver, where it has been active for 10 years. Yura and Kat have worked to spearhead campaigns, beach clean ups, as well as efforts to ban single-use products, such as plastic bags and straws.
“The campaign for microbeads was started in Vancouver by our chapter. After three years of work, as of early 2018, microbeads are officially banned from cosmetic products. A huge win for our Chapter.”
For Kat, her fascination with the ocean extends throughout her family, and began at a very early age.
“My family loved the beach. The beaches I grew up on were Spanish Banks and Jericho, and I have so many memories just playing there as a kid and enjoying the ocean. My family has also always been environmentally conscious. The first time I went to Boracay was in the 90s, and I remember feeling so confused because there was no one there and I just felt deserted. Every year in the early 2000s, I would go and notice it getting more polluted, dirty and crowded. It bothered me, but then I’d leave the next day and not think about it.”
It wasn’t until 2011, when she met and fell in love with a group of kids in Boracay, that everything changed. Kat’s travel experiences became the catalyst for her passion towards environmentalism.
“What are we doing? Why do we go on vacation and feel like we deserve this time to do whatever we want, but we’re not really thinking about our actions. Where does our garbage go?”
It’s when I realized that I was a part of the problem.
“What’s happening in Boracay is no different than any other beach in the world. It’s cyclical, and I don’t have all the answers. I do know that whatever you take pride in, you’ll succeed. I’ve always thought of that in terms of protecting the environment. If you love it, then you should also protect it.”
Yura’s experience was quite different. For him, it was a single memory, much later in life, that sparked his connection to the ocean.
“A friend of mine offered to take me surfing in 2010. I’d been living in Vancouver for just less than a year, and I’d never even considered surfing before. I remember walking into the water with my board, with no idea what I was doing. I could see these waves coming in, and the water was up to my stomach, splashing all over my face. I never imagined that I could be in the freezing cold water, in the middle of the winter, and enjoy it. That was the moment where I was like ‘I’m doing this for the rest of my life.’”
"I do know that whatever you take pride in, you’ll succeed. I’ve always thought of that in terms of protecting the environment. If you love it, then you should also protect it."
Though protection lies at the core of Surfrider's’ efforts, their philosophy maintains a balance of work and play.
“We are about protecting and enjoying. That’s the key, as much a we try to help out and protect, at the same time we really promote people to go out and enjoy experiences connecting with the ocean; something that starts off small, but always leads to bigger things.”
If you’re interested in connecting with Surfrider Vancouver, check out their website and social media @surfridervan to see how you can get involved.
A portion of OCIN proceeds from each year will be donated to an organization that is leading with compassion, doing good and shares our commitment to protecting the ocean. We are beyond excited to work with Surfrider Vancouver, who will be receiving this year’s proceeds.