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ON ON Canada – Report from SSRC

by Amelia Chow and Ron Stewart
Over the last few years SSRC’s activity has increased with 2009 marking the 15th year open as a retreat centre. In 2009 Sea to Sky Retreat Centre was blessed with the Rinpoche’s presence for a 3 month retreat. Before and after Rinpoche’s retreat, SSRC was fully booked with a variety of community and external group retreat programmes. The 2009 SSRC season began with a Shamatha/Vipashyana retreat that was attended to full capacity and ended with a two week Green Tara ( Zabtik Drolma ) retreat dedicated to Rinpoche’s long life. A full house of participants from Europe, Asia, the USA as well as Canada made this retreat a wonderfully rich event in the icy wonderland of SSRC.

SSRC Lojong Retreat Photo from SSRC

As SSRC does not advertise, it relies on word-of-mouth referrals for its external group bookings. Most of these are by repeat participants delighted with the staff, facilities, and great food. Increasingly, numbers of residents of areas nearby to SSRC such as Whistler, Squamish and Vancouver are attending yoga, therapy, and meditation programmes and confirming SSRC as a valuable regional asset.

In 2010 SSRC has added Dharma Gar retreats to its schedule of community programmes. Also the number of its popular work-as-practice weekends have been increased to one per season; short meditation sessions will bookend the days’ physical work. The Spring’s work weekend focuses on forest clean-up, Summer’s on roadwork and painting, and Autumn’s on winter preparation, tucking in the centre for its sometimes quieter but never dull winter break. There is always much to do as the centre operates its own hydro-electric system, has fire protection and silviculture concerns for its buildings and 40 forested acres, and must maintain 12 buildings and the long private road into the property.

SSRC has developed a plan that covers its financial, human resource, and environmental requirements. Coincidentally, the first draft of this SSRC Sustainability Plan was completed on Earth Day, 22-Apr-2007. Since that time, SSRC staff members, guests and volunteers, as well as Siddhartha’s Intent (SI) Board members have extensively reviewed and commented on this document. The Board also resolved to re-assess the plan annually on Earth Day; an up-to-date version is posted on the SI website:


Alex Trisoglio has been leading an on-going Sunday morning Dharma group, first at Amelia house, and then, when that sold, in his own apartment. Readings have been from: The Student Manual to Rinpoche’s new Ngondro, Buddhism: A Short History, What the Buddha Taught and both Patrul Rinpoche’s “Words of My Perfect Teacher and Dzongsar Khyentse’s Teachings on that text. Via Skype, sangha members from Victoria, Edmonton, Sooke, Seattle and SSRC have been able to join the wide-ranging and spirited discussions


With the sale of Amelia’s house and treasurer Rob MacLachlan’s move to Sooke, the SI office has become a floating one. With our increasing shift to electronic communications these moves have not impeded the work of Siddhartha’s Intent–meetings continue to be held via Skype when gathering is not possible and email communication thrives in the intervals between meetings. In June, SI board members gathered and did a work retreat for 3 days in the very relaxing setting at SSRC. In Amelia’s home office, Pat Armstrong set up the equipment and procedure for volunteers like Lakshmi and Jamyang to digitize teaching cassette tapes. Those already digitized and uploaded are archived at SSRC under Ron’s care.