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Reopening of Nanaimo ecoforest to be celebrated with ‘magical musical experience’

Wild Woods event, featuring Elise Boulanger and Patrick Carpenter, takes place Sept. 11
Patrick Carpenter, clockwise from left, Natasha Hoskins, Elise Boulanger and Anatol McGinnis rehearse in a private studio for the upcoming ‘Wild Woods’ experience at the Wildwood Ecoforest in Yellow Point on Sept. 11. (Mandy Moraes/News Bulletin)

To celebrate its reopening, as well as the successful acquisition of approximately two and a half hectares of land, the Wildwood Ecoforest will host a “magical music experience.”

The free event, dubbed Wild Woods, will take place on Sept. 11 from 1:30-4 p.m. at 2929 Crane Rd. in Yellow Point, and will feature five Nanaimo-based musicians as well as special guests and speakers.

According to Cheryl Bancroft, event organizer and director at the Ecoforestry Institute, the privately purchased old-growth land had been originally part of Wildwood but was sold off many years ago. The institute was successfully able to purchase the land in May this year for roughly half a million dollars. And so to celebrate the achievement, as well as welcome back the public, she and fellow event organizers Patrick Carpenter and Elise Boulanger decided to throw “a show to remember.”

“We also wanted to use it as an opportunity to launch our next fundraiser, which is to purchase another 21 acres (8.5 hectares) – again, that used to be part of Wildwood that was sold off,” she said, adding that the next campaign will launch Sept. 11 and aim to raise $856,000.

Due to the size of the event’s location, and also to limit foot traffic in the area, Wild Woods will have a capacity limit of 200 attendees, and those interested in attending will need to first register online at

The newly purchased land, Bancroft said, as well as the existing Wildwood land and prospective 8.5 hectares, will continue to be used as an educational demonstration forest that exhibits sustainable forestry methods.

“Wildwood, essentially, is in a protected trust. It’s an entity unto itself. For example, if the forestry institute were to go bankrupt, Wildwood could never be sold. It can only be transferred to a like-minded non-profit organization,” she said.

Although early plans to host the Wild Woods musical experience first started approximately two years ago, it was heavily delayed due to COVID safety restrictions.

In the meantime, Bancroft, Carpenter and Boulanger found two very good reasons to celebrate: the reopening post-COVID restrictions and new land acquisition. In its reopening, Bancroft said tours have started again on the third Sunday of every month.

Appearing as special guests at the event will be Lawrence Mitchell of Snaw-Naw-As First Nation and his children Jay and Kyrrah, who have practised singing and drumming at the ecoforest.

“It’s quite something when you hear the drumming and songs echoing across the lake. It’s almost like a haunting sound,” said Bancroft.

Boulanger said Mitchell has also helped her with a Hul’q’umin’um translation for the chorus of her song Cigarettes et rosé.

“I would like people to feel like they’re in a bit of an alternative world shaped by the soundscapes of the musical experience,” she said.

Carpenter will also be including Mitchell and his children as participants in his Half Moon Epiphany piece during the event.

“[Half Moon Epiphany] is a celebration of the beauty and the strength of the B.C. rainforests and creatures – the animals and spirits of the rainforest and of their beauty and strength,” he said.

Performing with Boulanger and Carpenter will be Natasha Hoskins on drums and Anatol McGinnis on cello and violin.

The event will start with a prayer by hereditary chief George Seymour of Stz’uminus First Nation.

“It’s going to be quite a unique experiences because it’s going to be a blend of cultures,” said Bancroft.

READ MORE: Vancouver Island artist promotes biodiversity with new music video

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Mandy Moraes

About the Author: Mandy Moraes

I joined Black Press Media in 2020 as a multimedia reporter for the Parksville Qualicum Beach News, and transferred to the News Bulletin in 2022
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