Volunteer Spotlight: James Boyer, NS Environmental Committee

(Photo: From left to right Dale Smith (VP) Ron Swan Chair of CARP NS, James Boyer Chair of Environment Committee, Margaret MacDonald, and Honourable Timothy Halman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change).

It’s National Volunteer Month in Canada. To commemorate this month and its great significance for the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, CARP sat down with a treasure of volunteer, James Boyer, from the Nova Scotia Chapter.

Q: I understand you have volunteered for CARP for over 15 years. How did you first get involved with CARP and what has kept you volunteering these many years?

A: My wife and I started volunteering shortly after retirement. We wanted to give back to our community.  We were encouraged by Bill VanGorder, who now is Chief Advocacy and Education Officer, but at that time was the Founding President of the CARP Nova Scotia Chapter. He knew we were looking for something meaningful to do with our time and he suggested joining CARP. Why have we stayed? It’s something we have really enjoyed.

Q: We know that some older Canadians feel frustrated in their ability to find an outlet for contributing to society, or for the skills and experience that they’ve acquired over their life. Does volunteering for CARP provide this for you?

A: Yes. We found CARP to be a perfect, positive opportunity to use our work skills developed over 40 years to make our community a better place for all.  My wife Carolyn came from the Health Sector which relates very well to CARP’s advocacy priorities. She was the chapter Secretary for 17 years and remains a member-at-large on the board. Through the establishment of an environmental committee and its work, I was able to fulfill a lifelong desire to leave a greener world for our grandkids.

And another wonderful aspect of volunteering with CARP is the social component. We love the social aspect of meeting new people and learning new things. We have made many friends who share our very strong sense of fulfillment and purpose.

Q: Could you share more about your work with the Nova Scotia Environmental Committee?

A: Sure. CARP Nova Scotia has a number of volunteer working committees, including Health, Financial Security and Environmental Committees.

The Environment Committee was initially established in 2010 as a made-in-Nova Scotia response to CARP’s national priority on encouraging healthy lifestyles amongst seniors, in part through promotion of walking and hiking in outdoor settings.  This priority interest soon expanded to identifying trails and parks where outdoor activities could be accessed and enjoyed, and in turn to a growing understanding and appreciation of the role of Nova Scotia’s parks, nature reserves and wilderness areas in protecting our natural environment.

More broadly, we are all aware that the environment has emerged as a predominant issue and concern, not only globally as we see and hear almost every day in the media but also provincially and locally based on direct observation and experience within our communities and daily lives. As seniors (or as members approaching senior years), our thoughts therefore increasingly turn to the environmental legacy that our generation will leave to our grandchildren and those that follow.

CARP has real leverage and gives us access to the decision-makers. Government agencies respect CARP, and what’s more, they understand that people of our age vote.  In July 2023, we were able to have a successful and amicable meeting with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Mr. Timothy Halman. As a result of that meeting, we were not only invited to return, but were encouraged to have a member of our committee sit on the Provincial Environment Round Table.  It is wonderful to be able to express our concerns directly to the Minister and to have a voice at the table. This is largely due to the fact that we are under the larger, well respected and trusted umbrella of CARP.

Q: What is next for you?

A: The Environmental Committee has lots in the works:

  • To continue to support and lobby for the successful completion of a National Urban Park that the Federal Government has proposed.  The NUP Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes is taking a lot of our attention and we hope to see this opportunity become fully realized in size and scope.
  • To continue a discussion with the Provincial Government to consider the importance of protecting our coast lands, our old growth forests and our provincial parks from development.  We are passionate about leaving a greener world for our grandchildren.
  • To continue to follow up on the number of issues we have addressed with the current government and to begin to prepare questions based on our reviews of government environmental policies and actions for the next provincial election.
  • We just sent out an Op Ed to the Chronicle Herald to be published shortly to address the government’s position, or lack of protection in their abandonment of the Coastal Protection Act.
  • Since the provincial government is not releasing the results of a public survey they initiated, we are asking for more transparency.
  • To continue to grow and strengthen our environment committee to reach more rural areas of Nova Scotia.

Read more about CARP Nova Scotia’s environmental work, including their mission and vision statement and yearly Stewardship Awards.

Thank you to James Boyer and all of our many wonderful volunteers all across Canada.

Read more from CARP volunteers.