Cowichan Coffee Time: From successful fundraisers to Cowichan Foundation

Savour Cowichan, which included the opportunity to skate with Vancouver Canucks alumni, raised $36,000 for the Canucks Autism Network. (submitted)

• The fifth annual Savour Cowichan Festival tantalized taste buds and provided local minor hockey players with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to skate with Vancouver Canucks alumni. Most importantly, the festival succeeded in raising $36,000 in vital funding for Canucks Autism Network (CAN) programs in the Cowichan Valley.

The festival’s annual kick-off reception, Barge On In, welcomed more than 800 guests on Sept. 29 and 30. The two-night event boasted a selection of tastings from craft breweries, wineries, cideries and spirit producers, paired with gourmet food sampling.

For the first time in the festival’s five-year history, the Barge On In events were complemented with Shawnigan Lake School’s Hockey Classic. On Sept. 29, local minor hockey teams were treated to a skills clinic led by Vancouver Canucks alumni Kirk McLean, Jyrki Lumme, Dave Babych and Darcy Rota. Families were then invited to hit the ice with the former Canucks legends as part of a public skate by donation.

The net proceeds of funds raised during these marquee events will enable CAN to deliver multi-week swim, skate and multi-sport programs, as well as summer multi-sport day camps in the Cowichan Valley. Additionally, CAN family events will be hosted in Duncan and Shawnigan Lake throughout the year as a means to bring families living with autism together in safe, supportive and non-judgmental environments.

Over the past five years, the Savour Cowichan Festival has raised over $140,000 for CAN programs, while also generating awareness about the wine and culinary profile of the Cowichan Valley.

“The Canucks Autism Network is tremendously grateful for the ongoing support of the Cowichan Valley community and everyone involved in the Savour Cowichan Festival,” says CAN director of development, Noah Morantz. “It is thanks to the success of the festival and its marquee events that we have been able to keep up with the increased demand for our programs in the region, while welcoming new families living with autism to participate.”

For more information on Canucks Autism Network programs or to learn how you can join, volunteer, or donate, visit

• The Chemainus Community Refugee Support Team is one step closer to bringing a Syrian refugee family to Chemainus thanks to the success of their fundraising Syrian Dinner.

They estimate the event, held at St. Joseph’s School, raised more than $10,000.

“We also wish to thank the many organizations and individuals who so generously helped in our efforts to raise money for this worthy cause,” the Support Team said.

• Daniel Varga was re-elected president of the Cowichan Foundation at its recent annual general meeting.

Financial reports noted that the Cowichan Foundation distributed $11,650 in bursary aid to Cowichan area students attending Vancouver Island University.

“I’m immensely proud of this highly effective work,” said Varga, a well-known local investment advisor. “We provide critical aid to students in a challenging economy.”

In community partnerships, the Cowichan Foundation provides charitable receipt services for groups such as Cowichan Wheels, which fundraises for accessibility in the community through its annual wheelchair rugby tournament.

The meeting also re-elected vice-president Lance Steward (Just Jake’s, Craig Street Brew Pub, Red Arrow Brewing) and secretary-treasurer Mike Coleman (retired lawyer and former mayor of Duncan).

Donations to the Foundation receive tax receipts (mail to Cowichan Foundation c/o 574 Cedar Place, Duncan, B.C., V9L 1J6). For more information on the group visit the Cowichan Foundation website.

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