Tides Canada expanding its northern reach

Justin Ferbey has become the first northerner on the board of directors of Tides Canada, a national charity that funds social and environmental initiatives across Canada.

Justin Ferbey has become the first northerner on the board of directors of Tides Canada, a national charity that funds social and environmental initiatives across Canada.

The appointment is part of the organization’s move to expand its presence in the North. Tides Canada launched its northern branch in 2013 with the opening of a new office in Yellowknife.

Ferbey said his previous work as chief executive officer of the Carcross Tagish Management Corporation has much in common with this new position, in that both appointments are focused on developing sustainable economies.

“It seemed to me like a natural fit,” he said. “We’re looking for local solutions to local challenges.”

Tides Canada operates by attracting donations from philanthropists in Canada and abroad and funnelling them to specific projects that the donors are interested in supporting.

It’s one of the environmental groups targeted by the previous Harper government as a foreign-funded “radical” group opposed to oil sands and pipeline development. The Canada Revenue Agency began auditing Tides Canada in 2011. At the time, questions were raised about how much the organization was spending on political advocacy. According to Revenue Canada, charities can spend no more than 10 per cent of their expenditures on political activities. Tides Canada maintained its political expenditures were less than one per cent of its total spending.

Steve Ellis, Tides Canada’s program lead for northern Canada, said the organization aims to spend $1 million or more in the North in 2016, and has likely spent close to that much this year.

But he said the organization doesn’t yet have a publicly available breakdown of every project that money is supporting.

“We don’t even have an internal breakdown,” he said. “A lot of it’s in my head.”

But he said the charity is filling a gap across northern Canada. “There’s very little philanthropic dollars in the North.”

Ellis said the large donors to northern initiatives include the J. W. McConnell Family Foundation and the Walter & Duncan Gordon Foundation in Toronto, as well as the Oak Foundation in Switzerland.

He said one of his biggest challenges is making sure that donors want to fund projects that are aligned with the needs of northern communities.

“We really try to honour that and make sure that where we are giving resources they are in line with northern priorities,” he said. “Sometimes it means saying no to donors. It can be a long, patient process.”

In the Yukon, Tides Canada has donated $68,000 to the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun and the Teslin Tlingit Council to support the Yukon River Intertribal Watershed Council. It has also donated $300 to the Gwich’in Tribal Council to support youth leadership initiatives and $5,000 to the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation to support the Gwich’in Gathering in Old Crow.

But it has also been heavily involved with the fight to protect the Peel watershed. In 2013, the charity donated $10,000 to the Yukon Conservation Society for its Protect the Peel Watershed and Whitehorse Wildlife campaigns. It also gave $49,000 to the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, part of which went to the Yukon chapter’s efforts to protect the Peel.

Ferbey said he’s most interested in the youth leadership projects that Tides Canada supports.

“That for a long time has been a focus of mine,” he said. But he also explained that board members don’t weigh in on specific projects.

In August, Ferbey was also named the new president of the Yukon Development Corporation.

Contact Maura Forrest at

maura.forrest@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Team Togo member Katie Moen sits in a sled behind a snowmobile for the ride from the airport to Chief Zzeh Gittlit School. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Coming together: How Old Crow became one of the first communities in the world to be fully vaccinated

Team Togo and Team Balto assembled with a mission to not waste a single dose of vaccine

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. If council moves forward with bylaw changes, eating and drinking establishments could set up pop-up patios in on-street parking spaces. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Patios may be popping up in Whitehorse this summer

City considers program for downtown restaurants and bars

The Yukon Coroner's Service has confirmed the death of a skateboarder found injured on Hamilton Boulevard on May 2. Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News
Whitehorse man dies in skateboarding accident

Coroner urges the use of helmets, protective gear, while skateboarding.

The new Yukon Liberal caucus poses for a photo during the swearing-in ceremony held on May 3. (Yukon Government/Submitted)
Liberal cabinet sworn in at legislature before house resumes on May 11

Newly elected MLA Jeremy Harper has been nominated as speaker.

The Yukon Wildlife Preserve’s baby bison, born April 22, mingles with the herd on April 29. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Yukon Wildlife Preserves welcomes two bison calves

A bison calf was the first 2021 baby born at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve

A map provided by the Yukon government shows the location of unpermitted logging leading to a $2,500 fine. (Courtesy/Yukon government)
Man fined $2,500 for felling trees near Beaver Creek

The incident was investigated by natural resource officers and brought to court.

The site of the Old Crow solar project photographed on Feb. 20. The Vuntut Gwitchin solar project was planned for completion last summer, but delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic pushed it back. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Old Crow is switching to solar

The first phase of the community’s solar array is already generating power.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
One new case of COVID-19 in the Yukon

Case number 82 is the territory’s only active case

Flood and fire risk and potential were discussed April 29. Yukoners were told to be prepared in the event of either a flood or a fire. Submitted Photo/B.C. Wildfire Service
Yukoners told to be prepared for floods and wildland fire season

Floods and fire personelle spoke to the current risks of both weather events in the coming months.

From left to right, Pascale Marceau and Eva Capozzola departed for Kluane National Park on April 12. The duo is the first all-woman expedition to summit Mt. Lucania. (Michael Schmidt/Icefield Discovery)
First all-woman team summits Mt. Lucania

“You have gifted us with a magical journey that we will forever treasure.”

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

Whitehorse goings-on for the week of April 26

The Yukon Department of Education in Whitehorse on Dec. 22, 2020. The department has announced new dates for the 2021/2022 school year. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Yukon school dates set for 2021/22

The schedule shows classes starting on Aug. 23, 2021 for all Whitehorse schools and in some communities.

Most Read