GRS instructors masters at their craft

Krysta Reed

Sounder News

Wednesday, July 17 2019

Mitch Miller is the new sailing instructor at Gabriola Recreation Society (GRS). 

The GRS offered sailing instruction up until 2017, but due to not having an instructor, there were no sailing lessons in 2018.

Miller moved to Gabriola in 2012 from Dryden, Ontario, where he offered sailing lessons for many years at the Dryden Yacht Club. He is currently a teacher at the Western Maritime Institute - the largest marine training centre in Canada - located in Ladysmith. He has worked for BC Ferries and holds a Master 150 GT Certificate.

Miller said, “I learned to sail about the same time I learned to ride a bicycle. My father built small wooden boats in the basement and that was my introduction to sailing.” 

A one-week sailing camp is being offered by GRS from August 19 to 23, 2019. Two classes are being offered for children ages 8 to 13, from 9:00 - 11:30 a.m. and 12:00 - 2:30 p.m. The program is currently full, but wait-listing is available. The children will be learning to sail on 420 racing shells, which are generously being hosted at Page’s Resort and Marina for the duration of the lessons.

Miller said, “Now I have summers off, I can introduce sailing to kids and hopefully they get hooked on the sport. There’s nothing quite as thrilling as being in control of your own sailboat.”

When Miller heard about the opportunity to teach the sailing program, he thought it was a great idea. He loves teaching kids and hopes to offer the program every summer. 

Miller said, “I have always appreciated the joy kids get when sailing their own sailboat [and] the 420s are great boats.”

Joani Heron is a photographer, producer, director and third generation filmmaker, who apprenticed with her father. Her grandfather was on the National Film Board in the late 1920s.

Originally from Victoria, Heron moved to Gabriola in 2014. She is currently working on completing her Media Studies degree at Vancouver Island University.

Heron is offering filmmaking workshops through the GRS, where she will have her 1969 vintage Airstream mobile studio on location. The first camp begins this week, running through to July 26. The second two-week camp, for children and youth ages 5 to 15, will run from August 12 to 23, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Registration is through the GRS office or website.

Heron’s camps are character driven. Heron said, “I want kids to develop the characters first and then create the story.”

The camp gives the participants the experience to work as a production team and is suitable for all types of learners. Heron explains that she works from three principles: adventure – doing something they’ve never done before; imagination – instead of being afraid of challenges, facing them; honour – that everyone has a gift, and we can help others and solve problems. Heron said, “They have to think about the whole picture and not just part of it. I am challenging them to solve their own problems. Knowing they have resources [and] that it’s about the process not the product.

“In this era when kids are consumers of media, I want them to create media [and] be world changers, instead of consumers all the time.”

While some of the summer programs with the GRS have filled up, others, including the filmmaking, still have space available. Registration can be done in person at the GRS office (at the east end of the elementary school), or online at