Marjorie Giroux of Malcolm Island fills the role of Community Developer at the Sointula Resource Centre Society and is a Rural Islands Economic Partnership (RIEP) Board Member. She talks to us about life on Malcolm Island during the Covid-19 pandemic and the joy of connection.
While the details are different for every rural islander, Marjorie's story is a familiar one for so many who choose to live on the beautiful rural islands of British Columbia.
Marjorie came to Sointula by happenstance for work from the West End of Vancouver, "[I] fell in love with the place and never left! The whales, chainsaws, kayaks, Finnish colony, wild salmon..."
Sointula on Malcolm Island was founded in 1901 by a group of visionary socialist Finns with cooperation and community at its heart. "Sisu" is a Finnish concept "[...]roughly translated into English as strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity" (source) that is especially relevant for the residents of Sointula.
Now, 30-year Island resident Marjorie remarks on how cooperation, community and sisu were integral to life on a rural island through the pandemic with RIEP being a part of that picture:
"I loved the roundtables during Covid. Loved hearing about my island neighbours. And as a community, we have found new ways to celebrate."
With a post-Covid world in sight, Marjorie sees the value of RIEP for economic recovery on rural islands like Malcolm:
"RIEP is the opportunity to share a connection with other islanders. Share information and experience with the potential for partnerships on projects."
Apart from the challenges that came with the pandemic, there are more issues on Malcolm Island that will require cooperation and sisu to resolve:
"Vacation properties have led to decreased rental market/affordable housing. We also see reduced volunteerism and a reduced full-time population."
RIEP represents an opportunity for new resources and initiatives to help rural islands build even greater economic resilience.
Thank you Marjorie for sharing your island story. We'd love to hear your island story. Submit it here.