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First Things First


Our Story

Organized in 2015 by local elders and leaders, First Things First Okanagan (FTFO) is a non-profit under the British Columbia Societies Act with the mandate to educate Okanagan communities on climate breakdown and to promote and organize actions that will help build a sustainable society.  Using a broad range of activities, including school programs, online Deep Dive webinars, alternate energy symposia, sponsorship of election debates, lobbying of local, provincial and federal politicians, art based events and more, FTFO has delivered the message that climate change is real, but together we can make the changes that will leave a better world for future generations.

We acknowledge that we live on the unceded traditional territory of the Syilx Okanagan Nation and value Indigenous ecological knowledge and worldviews.

Strategic Initiatives


Inform Okanagan communities about the consequences of climate change and inspire them to take action. 

Reduce GHG

Inspire individuals and communities to reduce their GHG footprint. 

Seek to influence

Lobby representatives from all levels of government to support policies that reduce the build up of greenhouse gases, 


Network with other organizations to strengthen climate change awareness and stimulate effective action. 

Let's save the world, together. 


In 2014, at the age of 94, Fred Ritchie had become increasingly concerned about human caused global warming. He was deeply concerned not just for his grandchildren, but for all peoples around the world. A resident and orchardist in Naramata, British Columbia since the early 1950s, Fred convened a meeting with five other concerned Okanagan residents who agreed action needed to be taken. This led to a larger group from Osoyoos to Penticton meeting monthly to discuss climate issues and to ask themselves what they could do to play some role in turning away from carbon dependency. As small group discussions continued so also did outreach to the larger community. Public meetings were held in libraries, churches and homes. The group chose the name “First Things First”, which later became “First Things First Okanagan” (FTFO) and in 2015, FTFO was registered under the BC Societies Act as a not for profit society.

Meet Our Team.

Our Board of Directors are a passionate team bringing knowledge and experience from various backgrounds. United by their passion for climate advocacy, together they all work hard to turn their shared concern for our planet into a positive change for our future. 

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Lori Goldman

Board Member

Lori is an ESL teacher and former business owner who cares about social justice. She is a world traveler who has known extreme air pollution in China and Nepal. Lori is active in the community volunteering with seniors and animals, striking for the climate, and encouraging others to participate for a future of climate justice. She loves birding, hiking the Penticton hills and waterways, and learning languages.
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Margaret Holm

Board Member

Margaret has worked in outreach and education for cultural and conservation organizations as a researcher, writer and program facilitator.  She now devotes time to climate engagement, environmental conservation, gardening, and staying active.
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Henry Sielmann

Board Member

Born and raised on a farm in Germany, Henry pursued a career in industry without ever losing his passion for nature.  Henry holds a M.Sc. in Engineering Physics and managed various technology and energy projects.  Now happily retired in the Okanagan Valley, Henry is free to share his love of the outdoors and help promote a responsible use of our natural resources.
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Corinne Durston

Board Member

Corinne grew up in small Manitoba towns. After doing her BA at the University of Winnipeg, she moved to Vancouver to do her MLS and then worked as a librarian for over 30 years.
After retirement she served on the Friends of the Vancouver Public Library Board.
Since moving to Penticton, she has worked as a wedding officiant and became involved with the Grandmothers for Africa.
As a grandmother and great grandmother she is passionate about acting to create a liveable planet.
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Sue Kirschmann

Board Member

Sue grew up in Penticton and feels fortunate to be back in the Okanagan, where she helps run her family’s vineyard and farm. She has degrees in Biology and Health Information Science, along with a love of the natural world that has taken her to many remote corners of BC. She is happy to have found FTFO, and is committed to turning her concern about climate change into action for positive change.
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Khati Hendry

Board Member

Khati is a recently retired family physician with a strong interest in community health and the environment, especially forests. She worked in immigrant health centres in California, bought a hybrid car in 2001, and moved to the Okanagan in 2004.  She has been distressed to see the predicted climate changes accelerating, and is keen to mobilize people to do all we can for a better future. Interests include exploring nature, drawing and always learning.
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Jim Beattie

Board Member

Jim has been a farmer, farm representative for government, and farmworker advocate. He represented Penticton as an MLA in the 1990s. Active in the South Okanagan Environmental Coalition, he fought against pesticide use in Okanagan Lake. He is a member of a Naramata Truth and Reconciliation Group and Musaic Vocal Ensemble.
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Kathleen Davies

Board Member

Kathleen taught high school in Australia, and was a lawyer practicing in Edmonton before retiring to the South Okanagan. Kathleen enjoys music, dance and reading, and is passionate about being physically active and outside in nature.
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