meet the board


David Shipway, Vice-President

I started learning about forestry in the early 70s, first in engineering and survey with MacBlo on Vancouver Island, then in treeplanting all over BC. I found the rapacious destruction of beautiful ancient forests quite overwhelming, but also saw the same logged lands slowly become forested again. I discovered Cortes soon after the ferry service started, and moved here permanently in the early 80's, making my living in construction and woodworking, something my ancestors were good at. By managing my own land I realized it takes at least a century to grow big trees that produce good wood. When I realized that neither government or industry wanted to wait long enough for second growth trees to reach maturity, I became active in conservation issues. I also wanted to learn a lot more about this place I call home, and one of the ways was through mapping the island with the Silva team of Herb Hammond and Tom Bradley.

For years this wonderful community has been advocating better forestry on Cortes, and now with the Community Forest Agreement in place, we need to put our big wild ideas into practice. This is a significant challenge with humble beginnings that will grow and achieve momentum organically, just like a new tree in a sunlit space.

Aldo Leopold, an ecologist whose father was a woodworker, wrote something a century ago that has stuck with me: "I have read many definitions of what is a conservationist, and written not a few myself, but I suspect that the best one is written not with a pen, but with an axe. It is a matter of what a man thinks about while chopping, or while deciding what to chop. A conservationist is one who is humbly aware that with each stroke he is writing his signature upon the face of his land."

Since he wrote that, many women have become involved in forestry as well, and that is a very positive trend in working with Nature.


Aaron Ellingsen, Treasurer

I'm a sixth generation Cortes Islander, with two younger generations of the family snapping at my heels.... As owner/operator of a sawmill, I'm also at least the fourth generation to make all or part of my livelihood through forestry- and timber-related work on and around Cortes. I grew up on Cortes and in the Lower Mainland, and have spent my adult years on Cortes, in Victoria, and back on Cortes. I have a professional background in editing, research and writing, degrees in Literature, and a love for the violin. As I contemplated leaving my research and writing work at the Legislative Assembly of BC, I was encouraged and keen to see the Cortes Community Forest formalized, following more than a generation of cooperative work by Cortes Islanders. I have been pleased to contribute energy to the project since the Community Forest Application for tenure was submitted to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations in 2013.

With all that Cortes is and has been, the Community Forest creates opportunities for needed local economic diversification, and a chance to showcase the triple bottom line (economic, social and environmental) advantages of small-scale forestry, providing local jobs and supporting small, value-add oriented businesses.

I’m proud to work with the Cortes Community Forest Co-operative, the Klahoose First Nation, the Cortes Forestry General Partnership and the broader Cortes Island community to make socially, environmentally and economically sound decisions to ensure our forests, waterways, wildlife and human community flourish.

Phone: (250) 935-6915


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Mark Braaten,


My name is Mark Braaten. I’m turning 50 this year. Following high school my education consisted of seven years travelling around the world investigating community, spirituality, consciousness, cultures and environment. I obtained certification in Yoga Therapy at SVYASA University Bangalore India.

I spent the balance of my adult life living in intentional communities and engaged with my family, homesteading, and homeschooling four children. The youngest Samuel, now 14 was born on Cortes Island. We travelled constantly for most of those years, practicing Permaculture in remote rural communities. We have been on Cortes now for 18 years and recently purchased Raven Farm as a collective.

I tree planted for 13 years, planting over 1 million trees. I learned much about forestry and ecology during that time. I was a member of the Slocan Valley Watershed Alliance and part the CORE Process in the 90s. I am currently working as a Licensed Residential Builder on Cortes with particular interest in local materials and “green” technologies.

I am serving on the Cortes Community Forest COOP Board as Secretary. It is a great privilege to be working with such a bright, talented and dedicated group. It is an honor to play a supporting role in the partnership with the Klahoose First Nation. I see the Cortes Community as having unique and exemplary potential. The Community Forest is a powerful way to put our values into positive action.


Carrie Saxifrage, President

I moved to Cortes Island in 1994 for the Linnaea Farm Ecological Gardening Program following work in Washington State as an RN and lawyer. I served on the Cortes Ecoforestry Board for many years while we sought Crown land tenure in partnership with the Klahoose First Nation. I also served on Linnaea Farm and Hollyhock boards and on the Cortes Island Volunteer Fire Department. My family moved to Vancouver for our son’s high school years and returned to home on Cortes a few years ago. While in Vancouver, I wrote a climate change memoir titled The Big Swim - Coming Ashore in a World Adrift.

The practicalities of implementing our community’s long held ideals seem daunting within the context of government requirements based on industrial logging and log export. On the other hand, we have achieved land tenure, put some operational lessons under our belts and displayed stamina and creativity in how we protect our forests and use our wood. With this strong history and everyone’s continuing efforts, we’ll improve our ecosystem protection and on-island wood processing for economic development.

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Ralph Garrison

I grew up and spent my early adult life on Vashon Island in Washington State. There I became a boat builder, cabinet maker and timber framer. Following a lifelong romance with rocky shores and wilder places I moved to the Tiber Bay Community on Cortes Island in the early 1990s.

As a builder I have developed a commitment to using local wood, as well as energy efficiency.

My interest in environmental issues led me to be part of the Cortes Ecoforestry Society and the Friends of Cortes Island.

My wife, Maureen Williams, and I recently returned to Cortes after a few years in Victoria, shepherding our daughter, Melanie, through secondary school.