In memory of a fighter: Chloe O’Loughlin

On November 17, 2017, CPAWS and the environmental community lost Chloe O’Loughlin, a powerful advocate for wilderness conservation, and former CPAWS-BC staff member, volunteer, advocate and friend. She passed away on the weekend after fighting a battle with an aggressive cancer, which was only diagnosed in September. In a testament to her strength, Chloe was unknowingly battling cancer for many years while never scaling down her fight for the places she loved, like the South Okanagan-Similkameen. She will be very missed by the people she worked with and the places she fought to protect.

Chloe joined CPAWS-BC in 2003. In the words of Bob Peart, the outgoing Executive Director at the time, “She impressed me in the interview process for her sincere interest in working in the conservation world and ‘transferring’ her skills to CPAWS and the NGO world.  I remember her saying that she had one good job left in her and that was at CPAWS working in conversation.” She continued to work with CPAWS until 2012, but stayed on as a volunteer, working relentlessly on creating the South Okanagan-Similkameen National Park Reserve. “It was her determination that kept this file active,” remembers Bob. “Chloe was a classic example about the difference that one caring committed individual can make, and that provides me hope. Chloe can go to the grave with a smile on her face.”

In her 9 years with CPAWS, Chloe led the organization through many victories. Some of her legacy includes:

2006: Launching SeaChoice, Canada’s most comprehensive sustainable seafood program, in partnership with four other organizations.
2008: Establishing the SGaan Kinghlas – Bowie Seamount Marine Protected Area which protects the rich and unique biodiversity of offshore submarine volcanoes.
2010: Obtaining a signed a memorandum of understanding by the B.C. government and Montana government to ban mining in the Flathead Valley.
2011: Launching the Get Outside BC program, a project aimed at strengthening youth attachment to British Columbia’s wilderness,
2011: Working with the Taku River Tlingit and the B.C. government to support the signing of a land-use plan that allows for 13 new protected areas totaling over 500,000 hectares (1.3 million acres).
2012: Supporting the Premier and Dave Porter, Grand Chief of the Kaska Nation, to announce the creation of a new provincial conservancy, Ne’ah’, and special management area, ‘Gu Cha Duga Zone’. Gu Cha Duga means “for the grandchildren” in a Kaska Dene dialect. The protected area and special management area total 600,000 hectares.

“Chloe taught us all to never let go of a vision,” said Bruce Passmore, the Executive Director of CPAWS-BC. “She will be missed by many. We will toast to her memory when the South Okanagan Similikameen National Park Reserve becomes a reality. May she rest knowing that her legacy will continue.”

There will be a Celebration of Life on December 8, 2017 at 3 pm at the Canadian Memorial United Church in Vancouver, 1825 W 16th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J 2M4 (the church entrance is on 15th Ave.). There will be an hour long Celebration followed by a reception in the Great Hall across the alley at the Canadian Memorial Centre.

Photo: Chloe O’Loughlin worked to see the South Okanagan-Similkameen protected as a National Park Reserve. Photo credit to Graham Osborne.