Canada’s fourth “collect and release” aquarium opens in Gibsons, BC
Canada’s fourth community “collect and release” aquarium celebrated its opening with the Sunshine Coast community and other special guests this past week.
The Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre showcases 70 local species in 30 live exhibits. Since starting its phased opening in September 2017, the aquarium has received almost 3000 Coast residents and visitors of all ages keen to learn about the rich marine environment of Howe Sound.
“We are very encouraged with the community interest and feedback we’ve received so far,” says Pam Robertson, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Gibsons Community Building Society, operator of the Centre. “Of course, this beautiful facility is only possible because of our generous volunteers and donors,” she adds.
Great response from community sponsors near and far
At the top of this list are TELUS, Western Economic Diversification Canada through the Canada 150 Infrastructure Program, Island Coastal Economic Trust, the Province of BC, Craftsman Collision, the Washington Foundation, and the Sonntag Family and friends.
In addition to its mandate as a learning destination that promotes connections between the health of the ocean and our every day choices, the Centre is also a natural extension of the classroom.
“Whether it’s on the subject of biology, earth sciences or geography, the aquarium brings classroom concepts to life in a way that helps students explore ecological aspects of the community where they live. Who knows, an inspiring experience at the Centre may fan the passion of a budding scientist!” says Linda Sonntag, member of the Board of Directors for the Society and wife of the late Nicholas Sonntag. The Sonntag Family are some of the founders of the Centre.
In celebration of the opening of the Centre, the Squamish Nation conducted a blessing ceremony and bring official greetings. The day was filled with family fun activities including yoga, ocean-inspired art, cake and live music with the Beachcomber Ukulele Group of the Sunshine Coast (“BUGS”).
The Centre is a registered charity operated by the Gibsons Community Building Society.
Who was Nicholas Sonntag?
Nicholas Sonntag was the Founding President and Co-Founder of Gibsons Public Market.
The Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Center commemorates the legacy of a man who devoted his life to the preservation and sustainability of our environment. His unwavering commitment was empowered by his keen intellect, warm sense of humour, and deeply caring heart.
“Nick” was a loving family man and friend who actively cared about community. He believed that a sustainable, healthy globe required a deeper understanding and personal connection to our shared environment. As President of Gibsons Community Building Society, Nick provided leadership, passion and friendship to our community and he inspired us to find joy in the discovery and wonder of the marine life in this Center.