The Mary Forbes
Master of Ceremony - Williams Lake
Mary Forbes grew up in Williams Lake and graduated from Simon Fraser University with a degree in archaeology and minor in public history and museums. Mary worked for five winters as an Archaeology Field Director in northern BC and still does field work around the Cariboo Chilcotin for a wide range of groups from community forests to residential impact assessments. During those five summers, Mary worked in Lake Louise, Alberta for Parks Canada as their campground theatre park naturalist, but eventually felt pulled back to her hometown of Williams Lake where she put down roots. In 2010 Mary was one of a select handful of BC community leaders invited to travel the entire length of the Fraser River from Mt. Robson to Jericho Beach by canoe and raft in the Sustainable Living Leadership Program with MP Fin Donnally.
Always looking for new learning opportunities, Mary took retraining as an autobody collision and paint technician after her move back to Williams Lake. However, she soon discovered the work involved daily exposure to chemicals. Unwilling to compromise her health, and with the desire to have children in the near future, she found herself at a crossroads, wanting to continue living in Williams Lake and wondering what to do for a career.
She went to Community Futures for help, and though she had been thinking of starting an automotive business, the staff there quickly realized that Mary had a natural knack for communicating. (“I love to talk!” Mary confesses with a laugh.) They encouraged her to think about a career in communications, and with Mary’s background in archaeology and her experience as a parks interpreter, she came up with the business plan for Dandelion Tours and Interpretation. Ever since then, Mary has been helping people see the Cariboo-Chilcotin through different eyes. She speaks in schools as the “Waste Wise” specialist for the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society, though the kids call her the “No-Garbage Lady.” As a part of the Waste Wise program Mary provides free at-home compost coaching, on everything from worm composting to backyard bone digesters to office compost fermenters to D.I.Y garden pallet composters. Mary also regularly provides in-school nature talks about fun things like spiders, owls and tracking and also hosts birthday parties at the Scout Island Nature Centre. Mary is a Young Naturalists club leader and provides outdoor experiences and field trips for children age 5-12 as well as a free family event the last Saturday of every month on topics ranging from bird watching to astronomical star parties.
Mary realizes how fortunate she is to have her dream job. Everyday she gets to meet new people and share her love for her hometown and its potential. When she isn’t busy teaching people about nature and conservation, she is likely to be found at one of her many volunteer jobs within the community. She has a passion for sustainable living and community history and was the visionary behind the Potato House Sustainable Community Society and is the Chair of the Williams Lake Heritage Advisory Committee. She participates in a number of local events and festivals like providing historic tours of Wells at the Arts Wells Festival and hosting the opening of Art Walk.