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Rescue Our Wetlands

These boots were made for walking… in wetlands

Diana Barr hopes her planned giving journey inspires others to follow a similar path.

December 12, 2017
These boots were made for walking… in wetlands
Diana Barr cites climate change, flooding, forest fires and urbanization for her growing uneasiness over the loss of the natural places she loves. ©Ross Davidson

Rubber boots: an essential wardrobe staple for Diana Barr as long as she can remember.

“They are so much a part of how I grew up in B.C.,” recalls Barr. “Our family would wear them when we headed out to wetland areas for a picnic. We had more rubber boots than any other footwear.”

After living in communities across Canada, including in the North, Barr now resides in London, Ont., just steps away from Sifton Bog Environmentally Significant Area. Every day, she pulls on her trusty rubber boots, sneakers or winter Sorels (depending on the weather and season) and takes her dog, Gus, for a walk on the marsh trails.

“The minute I walk to the bog, it takes me back to that earlier time—the smell of the air, seeing deer, ducks, Canada geese—I’m privileged to have it nearby,” says Barr.

And it’s a privilege she wants to maintain for future generations.

Barr cites climate change, flooding, forest fires, the decline of pollinators, urbanization and rise of technology as reasons for her growing uneasiness over the loss of the natural places she loves.

“I worry that the nature we enjoy now will end up being experienced only in a tech museum or as virtual reality,” Barr says.

Barr’s concerns, coupled with early fond memories of the outdoors, instilled a lifelong conservation ethic that’s inspired Barr to make her journey to becoming a DUC Feather Society member this year.

Her parents were ardent DUC supporters, she recalls. And a treasured carved mallard decoy she won at a DUC fundraising dinner in Yellowknife, N.W.T. in the early 1990s serves as another early tie to the organization.

“That dinner gave me a much fuller understanding of DUC,” says Barr. “The volunteers, the social and educational aspects and the stories people told—it was an amazing event. I was blown away by the breadth of what DUC does.”

A retired curriculum developer consultant for First Nations, Barr’s work with Athabaskan Gwich’in elders in particular inspired her own conservation vision.

“Their legends and stories are all tied to a belief that people, land and animals are equal,” Barr says. “There’s an interdependence between them.”

Barr was also guided by teachings from the Four Directions of the Medicine Wheel, used by North American Indigenous peoples. She decided that achieving balance meant fulfilling an area in her life that speaks to land, animals and the environment. That’s when she realized DUC would be the perfect fit for her donation.

“I knew that’s what I was meant to do.”

Barr is finalizing her planned gift to DUC, which includes a bequest and a collection of Canadian artwork by Inuit and First Nations artists. Not surprisingly, most of the artwork feature wildlife.

Janice O’Dette, DUC’s planned giving manager for eastern Canada, helped make her decision to donate easy, Barr says. “Janice knew my collection of artwork was important to me. She guided me in such a gentle, caring and positive way, there was no question in my mind that I’d made the right decision. That support during the process is so critical.”

Barr says making a planned gift is “not just a financial decision, but one based entirely on this idea of giving and doing something meaningful.” Supporting DUC’s conservation efforts is her way to ensure nature stays…natural.

Barr’s hoping that more people follow in her footsteps, whether they wear rubber boots, high tops, high heels, loafers, sandals or otherwise.

Making the journey, leaving a legacy

Diana Barr’s decision to make a planned gift to DUC was highly personal, but she has some words of wisdom for people considering their options:

  • Reflect on what’s important to you.
  • An organization’s website will only give you so much. You need to make a personal connection.
  • If it doesn’t feel right or if you have questions, ask.
  • Don’t just give. Get connected to the cause. You’ll feel good about your contribution.