Watershed Sentinel


Delores Broten, Publisher/Editor, The Watershed Sentinel

Special Series: Twelve Canadians

Labours of Love

By David Kattenburg

In need of a hard-hitting enviro news fix? BC-based publication The Watershed Sentinel is your go-to magazine for cutting edge green news and trenchant analysis — from a British Columbia perspective, but always tuned into global connections.

Turning 24 this coming year, the Sentinel has always been an eclectic read. The latest edition tackles the question of why genetically modified food will never be “green,” the pros and cons of carbon trading in indigenous communities, mining in Peru, the fate of the Arctic 30, and the beauty of bamboo.


At the heart of the Watershed Sentinel is a broad-grinned, energetic woman named Delores Broten, who, together with her partner Don Malcolm, founded the Sentinel back in 1990. They were living on Cortes Island at the time, at the northern end of the Strait of Georgia. I traveled out to meet them in 1993 for a series I was developing called The Earth Chronicles, featuring remarkable places and people across Canada.

Delores Broten at the helm

Delores Broten at the helm

Delores and Don were both remarkable folks, and little Cortes was unlike any place I’d ever visited before. I was introduced to a number of its engaging residents: folks living off the grid; protecting old stands of trees; fishing sustainably; promoting simplicity and healthy living.

Fast forward to today … I hadn’t seen Delores or Don for years, so last summer I paid them a visit in their current home of Comox. The three of us, in turn, dropped in on Merville social activist and tree enthusiast Kell Kelly, who filled us in on “grieving” sessions he’s got planned. As it turns out, they end up in celebration.

Listen to Kell and I climb a sixty-foot ladder to a tree house he’s built in a big Sitka spruce.

Watershed Sentinel co-founder Don Malcolm

Watershed Sentinel co-founder Don Malcolm

The following day — a bright, warm Friday in the dog days of July — Delores, Don and I drove up to Campbell River, where we grabbed a ferry to Quadra Island. At the northern tip of Quadra, on the edge of the Discovery Passage, we dropped in on a woman named Lani Keller, who runs a lodge with her partner. Lani’s also engaged in community-based protected areas mapping. Listen to Lani above.

All great visits come to an end. At the close of this audio narrative, before heading back to the BC mainland, I sit down with Delores in the inner sanctum of her Watershed Sentinel. Here, stories such as Kell Kelly’s and Lani Keller’s — and the environmental issues that occupy them — are gathered, sifted, edited, and published.

For Delores Broten, Don Malcolm, and a host of other hard-working indie magazine workers, these past 24 years have been a labor of love.

Twelve Canadians is a multimedia series about women and men who’ve been devoting their lives to social, economic or environmental justice, and to the healthy development of Canadian communities and the world. Each episode examines a specific issue or situation, through the voices of people who’ve been active in that area. Lots more than just twelve. Thanks to the Social Justice Fund of the Canadian Autoworkers Union for their generous support. Thanks as well to CKUW, University of Winnipeg Radio.


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