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125 Years of Saving Lives in the Commonwealth

2016 marks the 125th Anniversary of the foundation of the Royal Life Saving Society in 1891. To mark the anniversary year, the Society has established a number of program including:

Survival Swimming—a challenge to all Commonwealth nations to implement and ensure the widespread provision of survival swimming skills, a proven method of preventing drowning.

Recognition of Service to the Society – our Commonwealth President has graciously established the H.R.H. Prince Michael of Kent, 125th Anniversary Certificate of Merit to honour individuals who have given distinguished service to the Society. In addition, a unique 125th Anniversary Service Certificate has been created for Member Branches to honour individuals who have contributed to the drowning prevention mission of the RLSS.

Gathering and Sharing our History – the collection and documentation of Commonwealth and Member Branch history, particularly from the past twenty-five years, thereby strengthening the record of milestones and achievements we leave for others.

Celebration and Educational Events – bringing together senior and emerging leaders of the Commonwealth lifesaving family to share learning and develop skills and expertise.

Throughout 2016 member countries from across the Commonwealth will be taking part in the celebrations and providing their own events and activities. Stay tuned for updates on Canadian events celebrating this momentous occasion.
Commonwealth RLSS President, His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent, has sent a special message to members and volunteers in recognition of the 125th Anniversary.


Answering to the World Health Organization 

As part of the Lifesaving Society's response to the World Health Organization's Global Report on Drowning, a Canadian Drowning Prevention Plan is being developed.  Karen Deng is the Project Manager for this initiative and is working out of the BC & Yukon Branch office in anticipation of local hosting of the 2017 World Conference on Drowning Prevention.

We are looking for your input to the process.  The Coalition working on the Canadian Plan is asking for submissions with your thoughts on the essential components of a drowning prevention strategy that will be helpful to all Canadian communities and individuals.

Think about your experiences, your community and/or your organization then answer the following questions in fewer than 1500 words:
  • How have you or your community/organization been impacted by drowning or near-drowning events?
  • What are the three most important things that can be done to prevent these incidents?
  • What are you or your community/organization prepared to do to prevent, or assist in preventing, these incidents?
Submit your ideas to:
Mail: Canadian Drowning Prevention Plan 
           #112 – 3989 Henning Drive
          Burnaby, B.C.       V5C 6N5 

Submissions will be received until March 31, 2016. 

Privacy notice:
  • Lifesaving Society will consider your submission as a part of the public consultation process.
  • Your submission may be made public as part of reports developed. Your personal information, such as your name and address, will NOT be released.


Making the World a Better Place One Lifesaver at a Time

In late November, a team of 6 lifesaving instructors, first aid instructors and paramedics embarked on a 9 day trip of a lifetime to teach first aid, lifesaving and swimming skills to a group of 120 students and faculty from 80 different countries at an international school in China.  But the story of this journey began 15 years ago when a young man named Ben was given the opportunity to take his Bronze Cross from an instructor named Ron Straight. 

Today, Ben is the Coordinator of Co-curricular and Additional Programmes at a brand new international school in China.  Part of the curriculum is to spend a week on a project that would make the world a better place.  With that in mind, Ben wanted his project to focus on first aid and lifesaving, so he contacted Ron who put together a team consisting of Chris Cordova, Nicole Harrison, Andrew Mills, Andrew McKinley and Jordan Binotto.
Coming from so many different countries brought challenges as there would be language barriers and cultural differences.  Another barrier to training them in lifesaving skills was that several students had never learned to swim due to either coming from a place without lakes, rivers, or pools or due to coming from a more academic-based culture that did not see swimming as an important life skill.

An interesting challenge, especially in China, was that for liability reasons, people would avoid helping others in need as there was no Good Samaritan Act in place.  With the team’s goals in mind, our teaching focus was on:
  • Teaching first aid to the students and teachers with the understanding that an injured person is another human being, consistent with the Lifesaving Society’s motto of “Whomever you see in distress, recognize in them a fellow person.”
  • Teaching lifesaving so that in case of a water-related emergency (such as in the lake that surrounds the school or in the school’s swimming pool) everybody of any swimming ability would have the tools and abilities to save a life.
  • Improving swimming skills for all students, including non-swimmers, highly trained swimmers, and those in between, as we know that drownings are preventable
  • Bringing all their skills together for a first aid and lifesaving competition at the end
It was a busy week with tours, meetings, planning and teaching.  For the most part, the team worked for a week straight with very little down time, but the same went for the students.  Mini presentations including a CPR demonstration and a mock motorcycle accident involving Ben and a lot of strawberry syrup acting as blood.  The students were also given the task of making a skit that involved finding an appropriate song between 100-120 beats per minute which could be used to keep tempo while doing CPR. 

As the week came to an end, amazing progress was witnessed from all the students. Those who had never been in the water before were surprisingly performing basic swimming skills. Students who had no idea about CPR were now able to push hard and push fast.  Those with basic swimming skills now felt confident that they had the tools to perform an aquatic rescue.  One student even wants to start a Lifesaving Club.  Through this experience some students were also influenced in their future career paths.  

As the instructional team prepared to leave, thank you cards, pictures and smiles on student faces showed the amazing influence they had made on the students. It was a remarkable experience for the team and proves how a positive past encounter such as Ben’s original course can open up doors to more great experiences for many others. 

Submitted by Chris Cordova


BV Regional Pool Celebrates 25 Years

On December 23, 2015 the Bulkley Valley Regional Pool and Recreation Centre celebrated 25 years of operation.
The Bulkley Valley Swimming Pool Association (BVSPA) was formed under the Societies Act in October of 1969 and for nearly a decade a group of hard-working people made it their goal to acquire a pool for the Bulkley Valley.
A major fundraising effort occurred in 1987 when 10 community members and 20 businesses donated $1000 each towards the cause. The BVSPA and swimming pool committee members then worked with the Town of Smithers and the regional district to secure a site, grants and an operational tax subsidy. The doors were opened on December 23, 1990 as a user-pay pool. 

In 2005 there was a referendum passed to increase the tax rate and expand the boundaries of Rural Area A to ensure the longevity of the Pool and Recreation Centre.Tax monies are collected from the Town of Smithers, the Village of Telkwa and Rural Regional District A to assist with the day-to-day operational costs and capital replacement at the pool.
The Centre is unique in BC as the building is owned by the Regional District of Bulkley Valley-Nechako and operated by a not-for-profit organization, the BV Aquatic Centre Management Society, which is overseen by a volunteer board of directors.
Over the years, the facility has evolved with the additions of the courts and climbing wall in 2001, as well as the installation of a permanent hot tub in 2006.  After 25 years of operation, it continues to be an important hub of the community.

In attendace at the anniversary celebration was Pauline Curry, Dan Young and Gary Hackle (pictured above) who were part of the original BVSPA fundraising group. Pauline still comes to 5 aquafit classes a week!
Throughout its 25 years in the community, the BV Pool has been a strong supporter of the Lifesaving Society and as an Affiliate continues to offer lifesaving, lifeguarding and first aid programs. 

Since 2013, the BV Pool has partnered with the Lifesaving Society to provide Swim to Survive to Survive to Grade 3 students in the area. This spring 191 Grade 3 students from 10 schools across SD54 and SD82 will learn to Swim to Survive.

Congratulations BV Pool!
Is there an exciting lifesaving program or initiative happening at your facility or community? If so, we would love to feature it in an upcoming edition of the Lifeliner. Contact Krystyna Domes for more information.

Funding Opportunites

DB Perks Scholarships

Through generous support from DB Perks & Associates Ltd, the Lifesaving Society is able to offer the annual DB Perks Scholarship program. This year five Scholarships of $500 each will be awarded.

The objective of the scholarship is to support and assist Lifesaving Society lifeguards and instructors trained and working in BC & Yukon who are pursuing post-secondary education.

Nominees must be holders of current Lifesaving Society awards and be actively employed by a BC & Yukon Branch Affiliate as a lifeguard or Lifesaving Society Instructor, part-time or full time. Nominees must also be pursuing post-secondary education in the subsequent school term at a university, college or vocational school.

Since 1995 assistance has been provided for over 70 recipients allowing them to pursure careers in government, education, legal and many other fields. 2015's recipients included Michelle Lukas, Julie Kaufman, Rachel Hennig (pictured below with Governor Ian Robertson) Anna Legault, and Rebecca Roy (not pictured).
Scholarships are administered through the BC & Yukon Branch of the Lifesaving Society. All applications are reviewed for eligibility and eight finalists are chosen. Finalist applications are then reviewed by Doug Perks and his scholarship committee for determination of the five successful candidates.

Applicants must submit the standard form along with a resume outlining aquatic experience, both paid and volunteer, accompanied by letters from one work reference and one personal reference. Volunteer involvement in the aquatic community is an asset.

Application and reference letters must be received in the Branch by 4:30 pm January 31.
Award recipients will be chosen in mid-February and scholarships awarded at the Branch Annual General Meeting at Hotel Vancouver on March 4.
Apply Now


Calendar of Events

2016 Price List 
January 1, 2016
*Updated price list can be found online in the Branch Affiliates Group

DB Perks Scholarship Application Deadline
January 31, 2016

Lifesaving Society - BC & Yukon Branch AGM
March 4, 2016
Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

Honour & Rescue Ceremony
March 5, 2016
Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

Canadian Lifeguard Emergency Response Championship (CLERC)
April 30-May 1, 2016
Guildford Recreation Centre - Surrey, BC

Canadian Pool Lifesaving Championship (CPLC)
May 14-15, 2016
Edmonton, AB

80th Annual Barnsley Branch Lifeguard Championship
August 19-20, 2016
Location TBD

ILS World Conference on Drowning Prevention 2017
October 17-19, 2017
Vancouver, British Columbia
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