Bees, bugs and birds will be in the spotlight at Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site this Saturday (May 13), as BioBlitz 2017 welcomes visitors to enjoy various aspects of the natural world. Photo courtesy Parks Canada

Carved archway unveiling part of BioBlitz at Fort Rodd Hill in Colwood

First Nations welcome gate brings visitors in to celebrate natural world

Rick Stiebel/News Gazette staff

A new archway imbued in Coast Salish art created by master carver Tom LaFortune will be unveiled this Saturday (May 13) to welcome visitors to Fort Rodd Hill.

That event, set for 11 a.m., is part of a day of celebrating nature at the national historic site with BioBlitz 2017, which launches at 7 a.m. with a birding walk hosted by the Victoria Natural History Society.

LaFortune, a member of the Tsawout First Nation, was born in Duncan and completed several of the carvings in that city’s Totems Project. He has garnered an international reputation for his totem poles, masks, drums, dishes, rattles and paddles. He also carved a 25-foot totem as part of Royal Roads University’s 75 Years of Changing Lives celebrations.

LaFortune’s archway creation will be a fitting way to welcome people from around the world to the park and the traditional lands of the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations, said Aimee Pelletier, species-at-risk communications officer for Parks Canada.

“The BioBlitz event is a great way for the whole family to connect with nature right in their own back yard,” she added. “The theme is birds, pollinators and the native plants that support them.”

Also on the agenda is the International Migratory Bird Day Festival, co-hosted by Rocky Point Bird Observatory on site from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Related activities include bird-friendly displays and banding demonstrations, while attendees can also take part in a bug safari hosted by the Royal BC Museum, engage in traditional plant walks with members of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations, enjoy face painting and more.

BioBlitz 2017 brings people from across the country together with scientists in a wide range of events to explore, celebrate and conserve the richness of the country’s biodiversity as part of Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations. The Songhees Seafood and Steam Truck will be on site as well to provide food and refreshments. Visit for more information, schedules and a full list of events.

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