We are a non-profit organization that cares for the well-being of Vancouver Island wildlife and strives to educate the public. We continue because of amazing volunteers and incredible community support. Come out for a visit!
The North Island Wildlife Recovery Association partners “with the citizens of Vancouver Island to establish a facility for the care of ill, injured and orphaned wildlife and to educate the public on wildlife and environmental issues.”
Many people ask how NIWRA began. In 1984, Robin Campbell, NIWRA’s founder, discovered a Great Horned Owl entangled in a neighbor’s fence, its wing mangled and in need of emergency care. It was Christmas day and the Christmas dinner would have to wait. Spirit, as the Owl was later named, became our first of many casualties at the Buckley Bay Wildlife Recovery Centre (by the Denman Island Ferry).
Later in 1986, the newly formed association moved to an eight acre parcel of land in Errington, BC, and changed its name to North Island Wildlife Recovery Association, hoping to serve the north end of Vancouver Island, BC, not knowing at the time we would be receiving animals from as far away as Saskatchewan.
NIWRA became internationally known when a local farmer unknowingly left a euthanised cow in a field for the eagles to eat. The cow had been euthanised with a barbiturate and should have been buried. Neighbours of the farmer began calling NIWRA when they discovered eagles lying lifeless on the ground. Due to the tremendous community support and the media, NIWRA, volunteers and veterinarians were able to save and release 25 of the 29 eagles that were found.
Over the years, NIWRA, has developed its expertise having dealt with oil spills, wildlife rehabilitation, short term rehabilitation of bear, wolf and cougar, and has developed extensive educational programs for the public.
We are proud to have the largest eagle flight cage (measuring 140′ x 30′ x 20′) of its kind in Canada, which has housed hundreds of eagles being readied for release.
In 1995, the Arthur Knowles “Museum of Nature”, a mortise and tenon timber frame structure was built and in 2001 the May Neish “Wildlife Learning Centre” was constructed, in keeping with NIWRA’s mandate of education for the public. NIWRA is instrumental in building and managing the V.I. Black Bear Rehabilitation Program where bears are successfully rehabilitated and released back into the wild.
In 2005, a 30′ x 30′ treatment centre was constructed by donations from caring individuals, service clubs, the Fraternal Order of Eagles, and the Vancouver Foundation. The centre has been named after Dr. Malcolm McAdie for all his donated time spent helping wildlife here at the centre.
More recently, the Magical Field of Stones and a Native Plant Wildlife Garden have been constructed in keeping with NIWRA’s educational program. Raptor presentations are given during the summer months on the Magical Field of Stones while educational programs are planned for the Wildlife Garden.
The centre has truly developed into a world class tourist destination and a remarkable wildlife rehabilitation facility offering educational programs delivered by enthusiastic and knowledgeable volunteers.
We hope you enjoy your visit, and will learn to love and respect wildlife, as we have.
Robin and Sylvia Campbell and NIWRA Board of Directors
In l984, Robin Campbell found a Great Horned Owl entangled in a barbed wire fence. In l985, he founded the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre and has been instrumental in building the rehabilitation centre into a world class facility for the care of animals, a discovery campus for education of the public and a tourist destination for the public. Over the thirty-year span since founding the centre, Robin has seen it grow from caring for one owl to being a leader in the care of raptors and black bears. In addition to managing NIWRA, Robin has been a caregiver to the mentally challenged for close to thirty years and is founder of the Manna Homeless Society.
Starting as an animal care volunteer one day a week back in 2008, Julie has progressed to ‘Wildlife Manager’ during her years with NIWRA. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology from UNBC and has completed many certification courses in wildlife rehabilitation. These days Julie doesn’t do as much scrubbing and cleaning as previously but can still be seen shoveling and hosing in the bear building and other areas as needed. The ‘animal’ care cell phone and spreadsheets take up more of her time now but she loves nothing more than to work with injured patients until they can be released.
Cory joined NIWRA as a full-time animal care staff member in 2013. We were lucky to get her back on land as she spent the prior years as a kayak guide all over the island. She has a diploma in Coastal Ecosystem Sciences and has seen many locations on the coast that most have not. Cory is to thank for keeping our enclosures looking spotless and the animals well fed. She is a very hard worker and won’t quit until the job is done correctly.
Jodi Young grew up in Qualicum Beach and after leaving to explore and reside in different areas of the country has settled in the Oceanside area with her husband and daughter. She has a strong administrative background, working in Financial and Provincial Government services which is supported by dual certification in Business and Legal Administration. Jodi accepted the position as NIWRA’s Office Manager and Volunteer Coordinator in 2016 and works diligently with Staff, Volunteers and various committees on advertising, events, education programs and volunteer opportunities. When not at the Centre – she enjoys reading, camping, fishing, watching movies and spending time with her family.
Andrew Cotton joined NIWRA in the summer of 2014, working full time as the lands maintenance and grounds keeper. He has had a passion and love for animals his whole life, and working here has been a huge joy for him. In addition to his work at NIWRA, Andrew also volunteers with Manna Homeless Society, bringing hope to the homeless week after week.
When not working, Andrew enjoys watching a good hockey game, enjoying coffee with friends and family and nice beach walks with his wife.
Lil is in the NIWRA office every Friday. She keeps very busy tackling the paperwork and tasks that run the day-to-day administration. You will catch her in the ranks of helpful volunteers at NIWRA events.
Lil has been an important part of the NIWRA team for many years.
At North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre, we couldn’t operate without our amazing volunteers whose dedication and commitment have helped make this a world class facility.
Our Board of Directors
Del L. KristalovichPresident
Del L. Kristalovich (President)
Del Kristalovich joined NIWRA’s Board of Directors in 2012, shortly after moving to Qualicum Beach at the time of her husband’s retirement. She spent several of her working years in the medical field before leaving her position as a surgical assistant to start her own business in support services for medical and legal offices. She retired from this position at the end of 2013. Throughout the years, she has contributed to her community through various volunteer positions on Boards, Associations and Committees and continues to volunteer as a member of her local community association as well as acting as a Board Member for NIWRA.
Sylvia Campbell is co-founder of NIWRA and has been working in all capacities since its inception in 1985. Besides the love of animals and the Centre, Sylvia has been a caregiver to the mentally challenged for the last twenty-five years. She is founder of the Errington Therapeutic Riding Association and has volunteered many years in a medium security prison chaplaincy program. Her interests include singing. writing songs and authoring books.
Tim Palmer immigrated to Canada in 1977 with his wife and joined a French multinational metals company for 29 years. In 2006, Tim joined CCB, an independent charity and community council where he was responsible for the delivery of government-funded partnerships to Parish Councils. Retiring in late 2011, Tim returned to Vancouver Island and now lives in Nanoose Bay, where his hobbies include yoga and playing squash. He volunteers as a tour guide at NIWRA.
Judy Brown and her husband have been residents of Qualicum Beach for over ten years. Originating from Ottawa, she worked as a database manager for Health Canada, and the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Judy has volunteered at the Vancouver Aquarium in their Volunteer Services Office, as well as acting as the Publicity Director for their non-profit society in Whistler. At the NIWRA office, Judy has assisted with the standardization of the volunteer and employee manuals, and Policies and Procedures manual. She has also helped prepare and update the email address lists and prepared various documents for the NIWRA Board.
Carol Chisholm moved to Vancouver Island in 2012 after almost thirty years of increasing responsibilities in business management. As a member of senior management teams, she has been involved in areas such as business strategy, succession planning and operational requirements. A graduate of Queen’s University and Athabasca University, Carol is also a trained facilitator. Her life-long interest in nature peaked in May of 2010 when she found a Great Horned Owl with a broken wing. She took it to Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre, the local wildlife recovery organization in Nappanee, Ontario and offered to volunteer for them. Carol has volunteered as a tour guide at NIWRA since she moved to Parksville.
Gary has recently retired after over 48 years in commercial banking, serving 38+ years with Royal Bank of Canada. Relocating from Campbell River to Nanoose Bay, he then managed the mid-island Commercial Banking Centre for Coastal Community Credit Union in Parksville for ten years until again retiring. Gary volunteers with a church in Nanaimo, and until recently, was a board member with Parksville and District Association for Community Living. He has volunteered with many organizations over the years, including: Rotary International, Director of Rotary Foundation; MCC Supportive Care Services (North Island); and in Campbell River, at the Museum, Citizens on Patrol, Laichwiltach Family Life Society, and First Nations Elders Conference.When not playing with his grandchildren or glued to the computer, Gary enjoys woodworking, photography, reading, and gardening.
After earning his Chartered Accountant designation in Toronto, Dave McLean joined CIBC Internal Audit in 1975, to learn the financial industry while working in Canada and the US. Dave moved to Vancouver to join the Bank of British Columbia, Internal Audit Department in 1980. In his roles with the Bank (which became the HongKong Bank of Canada/HSBC), he participated in the year-by-year growth/expansion through numerous acquisitions/new business start-ups. In 2006, Dave elected to take early retirement and shortly thereafter moved into contract consulting roles providing advisory services including accounting, audit, controls and risk management. Dave was involved with community not-for-profits as Treasurer, Director, and Advisor.