A field of purple flowers with the sun setting in the background.

Jackie Weiler is passionate about animals and nature, so when it came time to update her estate plan, she knew she wanted to include nature and animals in her bequests. Thanks to a 34-year career in administration with the United Way on a joint program with the Canadian Labour of Congress, Jackie experienced the impact of philanthropy first-hand. She believes in community service as a three-term member of the City of Vancouver’s Seniors Advisory Committee, a member of the board of the Jewish Senior’s Alliance, a former English Second Language (ESL) teacher, a homestay host for international students and a Vancouver tour guide.

Jackie recently sat down with The Nature Trust of BC to share her approach to legacy giving, her love of all animals, especially dogs, her fondness for bears; how she became an “ambassador” for Canada when she emigrated from Johannesburg, South Africa in 1979 and why she is leaving a legacy gift to The Nature Trust of British Columbia in her will.

How did you decide who would receive a legacy gift in your will?

I decided to do some research to expand my knowledge of agencies and organizations that help nature and animals. Throughout the summer I met with many groups. Some I spent a whole day with, some I got a lot of information from, some I already knew a bit about.

I had a very good conversation with The Nature Trust during which I wondered if it might be possible to visit a conservation property at some point. When I got a call asking if I’d like to join Carl MacNaughton, Interior and Coastal Mainland Conservation Land Manager, for a property visit, I jumped at the chance.

We drove to Addington Point Marsh, north of Port Coquitlam. This Nature Trust property supports hundreds of types of birds and many animal species. I was so pleased to be able to learn so much and to see how committed The Nature Trust is to the work of land conservation. It makes such a difference when the people who work for an organization feel that way. And then something amazing happened:  As we walked towards a lookout to eat our lunch, a brown bear started to follow us. We watched it lumber along until it turned one way to towards the blueberry fields and we turned the other way towards the lookout. It was clearly not interested in us, but it was thrilling for me to see a bear. It was the highlight of a wonderful day.

I was also able to attend The Nature Trust’s annual fundraising Gala and it was great to see the level of support from philanthropists, corporations and people from all walks of life.

As a result of this research, The Nature Trust landed in the very top of my percentile of contributions when I sat down with my lawyer.

A black bear walks down a small path with greenery on both sides.

A black bear strolls through the Addington Point Marsh conservation area.

You took a very considered approach to your legacy giving. Would you recommend this level of research to others when planning their estates?

It was important for me to do the research and to have a connection to a non profit, whether for animals or the community.

This was the right approach for me. I am widowed and I don’t have children. I’m not a wealthy person but I want to do something good.   I want to leave a legacy to animals and nature with my final resources. This is something that my husband would want me to do. My work for more than 30 years was for a non profit and I am committed to giving back to the community.

With your legacy gift it seems you’ve also become an ambassador for nature and animals.

I’m basically a city person but I have a deep connection to BC. I’ve travelled all over the province including Haida Gwaii. My next trip will be flying to the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Sanctuary north of Prince Rupert. I’m very excited to be in a place where there is nothing but nature and bears in their natural habitat.

I would encourage people, if they can, to support nature and animals. I’ve travelled all over the world and seen many amazing places. But there is simply no place like BC. The diversity of nature is spectacular. We need to do more to protect it.

If you would like to learn about how you can leave a legacy gift to The Nature Trust of BC, please click here or contact Emma Liffen at eliffen@naturetrust.bc.ca.