Voices for the Islands


A fascinating compendium of stories chronicling the creation of local nature conservancies, and the people behind them, on seventeen islands on the Salish Sea from the 1990s to the present day.

Voices for the Islands brings together the stories and experiences of those who rose to protect areas at risk within their island communities. Narratively linked by author Sheila Harrington’s three-year sailing journey among the islands to interview more than fifty veteran conservationists, the book shares an in-depth view of local protests and the history and evolution of local conservancies from their timely emergence through legal battles and successful partnerships. It highlights how local, provincial, and national support was won, through the collaborative efforts of dedicated locals, resulting in hundreds of new protected areas and parks within one of the most at-risk ecological communities in Canada—the islands of the Salish Sea.

Beginning in the 1980s, when logging and development threatened the fragile ecosystems and natural habitats, and culminating in the creation of more than seventeen local conservancies and the Gulf Island National Park Reserve, Voices for the Islands will inspire readers to turn apathy into action and support the cause of conservation and reconciliation in an era of species extinction and climate change. 

Full of colour photos, maps, and fascinating first-hand stories by unsung heroes of conservation—many of whom are now elders—this book reveals how local people and grassroots movements have the power to transform the future of our precious planet. 

SHEILA HARRINGTON is an author, sailor, and environmental advocate with a thirty-year career in the conservation field. She was the founding executive director of the Land Trust Alliance of BC (LTABC) from 1997 to 2011 and a director of the Lasqueti Island Nature Conservancy for more than twelve years. She is co-author of the bestselling Islands in the Salish Sea Community Atlas, a finalist for two BC Book Awards and third-place winner of the BC Historical Federation prize. She edited and published Positive Vibrations magazine in the 90s and Giving the Land a Voice, Mapping Our Home Places and the BC Kingfisher magazine in the early 2000s. She currently lives off-grid on Lasqueti Island.  


“As a sailor, I have had the privilege of visiting every one of the islands in this book and hiked many trails in the parks and protected areas. Each Gulf Island holds a distinct beauty . . . It is a delight to follow in the wake of fellow sailor Sheila Harrington as she meets the people and organizations that have fought

tirelessly to preserve these unique ecosystems for future generations to enjoy.”

—Bob McDonald OC, author, journalist, and host of Quirks & Quarks, CBC Radio-Canada

“Voices for the Islands unflinchingly documents the mounting threats facing the islands in the Salish Sea and describes on-going efforts at reconciliation with First Nations, the original stewards of the waters and land. In these troubling times of climate change and biodiversity loss, Harrington’s book is an uplifting testament to how individuals and communities working together to protect what they cherish can make an incalculable difference.”

—Sarah Cox, author of Signs of Life and Breaching the Peace

“Reading about the many individuals and groups working to preserve these lands helps me feel a little less alone, the distances easier to cross.”

—Amanda Lewis, author of Tracking Giants: Big Trees, Tiny Triumphs, and Misadventures in the Forest

Voices for the Islands chronicles the legacy of the many dedicated, local activists who worked for over 50 years to build the land trusts, conservancies, and precious wild sanctuaries that now safeguard the very soul of BC’s Gulf Islands . . . Sheila Harrington documents what these nature heroes did against daunting odds to save nature from development. As such, she also provides a how-to guide. This is an impressive, engaging book. I highly recommend it . . .

Voices for the Islands is a ‘must read’ that I suspect may inspire you too to join the action.”

—Ric Careless OBC, founder of Sierra Club of BC and BC Parks Foundation

“At last, a Good New Story . . . Engagingly written, part chronology, part inspiration and part guide for the future. It details the battles and sacrifices of the many dedicated crusaders for Mother Gaia.”

—Bobbi Hunter, Greenpeace co-founder and Editor/Contributor of Mr. Mindbomb: A Life in Stories

“This book is a beautiful tribute to those people – past and present – who have continuously engaged in the hard work of protecting nature. It is celebration and inspiration.”

—Andrea Olive, University of Toronto Mississauga Professor and author of Protecting the Prairies: Lorne Scott and the Politics of Conservation