Education Scholarships

Rural students in Canada continue to underperform their urban counterparts in every measurable outcome, including increasing dropout rates. This manifests on Cortes Island, where the issues of rural students are compounded by also being remote, with high school students forced to leave their homes or leave with their families to seek secondary education.

The CICF is working toward helping Cortes Island youth reach their potential through the development of the Cortes Island Academy, youth programming and support, and through our scholarship program.  Our scholarship program is designed to support Cortes Island youth to access higher education, mentorships, and post-graduate skills training.

Several big announcements were made and a robust list of collaborators were present on February 1st, for an update on the development of the land that is known as the ‘Village Commons’ in Mansons Landing. The meeting had about 36 attendants, including 6 people that virtually attended via zoom. The evening of presentations had a strong theme of collaboration and neighborhood togetherness.

Cora Monet introduced the night and warmly welcomed all attendees. Manda Aufochs Gillespie then spoke on behalf of the Cortes Island Community Foundation (CICF) by announcing that in January of 2023, the Foundation was offered to take over the stewardship of the Village Commons, from the Cortes Community Economic Development Association (CCEDA). The land came with an established trail system, hydro, and the possibility of $907k worth of grants to continue into ‘Phase One’ of development. These grants came from Destination Development Fund (DDF), Rural Economic Diversification & Infrastructure Program (REDIP) and Island Costal Economic Trust (ICET).

CICF has hired architect Bruce Haden, who offered a thorough presentation on the South island scene and simple design for the Village Commons. He broke down the region into the 5 ‘L’s; The Loop, the Lake, the Lane, the Lagoon, and the Landing.

Richard Andrews has lived on Cortes for 23 years and is the general contractor for Phase One Development of the Village Commons. He also just completed the Mansons Hall deck renovations, which were funded by the Healthier Communities Grant. The development is slated to begin now until October 31st, 2024.  

 Phase one of the Village Commons development will include a Welcome Pole, carved by local indigenous artist, Ernie Puglas, a covered outdoor pavilion, containers for storage/commercial vending, and a shared social profit work space. The CICF is also supporting the SCCA to make the Manson's Hall parking lot more effective and functional.

Cora Moret spoke on behalf of the Southern Cortes Community Association to discuss the enhancements completed and eminently planned for the exterior of Mansons Hall. The new deck for the hall is now complete. Further fireproofing is planned and already funded for the exterior of the Hall. 

Sadhu Johnston also spoke at the event to announce plans for the Cortes Housing Society (CHS) and the Fire Department. He is the Executive Director of CHS, and confirmed that the society has submitted a more robust, third application to BC Housing in hopes to fund the Rainbow Ridge project. Johnston is also the President of the Fire Department, and was enthusiastic to share plans to improve the island’s ability to fight fires and prepare for emergencies. 

Several community members were acknowledged for their contributions thus far to a multifaceted journey in growing the usefulness of this downtown area. Kate Maddigan, Tammy Collingwood, Matt Cuscianna, Isabella McKnight, Andrea Fisher, and Sandra Wood were all thanked for their work on these efforts.  

Project designs blur the property lines between several community owned plots, creating more flow and capacity to support popular events like the Friday Market. An extra parking near the skatepark was recently completed to help facilitate this community flow. Ideas for future phases were also discussed such as a bathhouse with showers and laundry, as well as a youth center.

Neighbours were encouraged to sign up for updates and to engage in future conversations. Please reach out to or if you would like to get involved or offer insight. 

Presentation by Bruce Haden

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