Moving Documentary Honours Langley Philanthropist Ann Blaauw for Her 5 Million-Dollar Gift to Preserve Local Forest
LANGLEY, B.C., December 13, 2019: Six years ago Langley resident and retired businesswoman Ann Blaauw gave a gift of $3.5 million and added another $1.5 million this past summer, totalling in a $5 million donation to Trinity Western University (TWU) to preserve an old-growth forest that would otherwise have been sold for development. It is the largest donation Ann has ever given and one of the largest donations TWU has ever received. This year TWU released The Blaauw Eco-Forest Documentary to capture the story behind the forest and—even more importantly—to honour Ann’s decision and the difference her gift has made.
Created by Ned Vankevich, Associate Professor of Media and Communications at TWU, the documentary tells the story of Thomas and Ann Blaauw, a Langley couple who began their married life farming in the 1960s. Their Glen Valley cranberry farm was located near a forested parcel of land along the Fraser River. Over the years Thomas developed a special affinity for the forest’s serene, natural beauty.
Years later, Ann honoured her late husband in a more meaningful way than anyone could have imagined. Jack Froese, Mayor of Langley, explains that several years ago the township deemed this land to be in excess to their needs and decided to put it up for sale. “We heard from the community pretty fast that this forest was very important to the people who lived around here and to the greater Township of Langley community,” he says. “We were able to partner with Trinity Western University and Mrs. Ann Blaauw to find a solution where it was purchased with money donated by the Blaauw family to enable Trinity Western University and the township to preserve this forest in perpetuity.”
Ann’s gift was a remarkable way for the family to continue Thomas’s legacy of community service, to commemorate what this forest had meant to him, and to keep the forest green for generations to come.
“It’s a fantastic story,” says Mayor Froese. “We found somebody who could come along and help us … to preserve it as a park and for public use; and also for the education of students at Trinity Western University.”
Home to over 200 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and plants, the Blaauw Eco-Forest continues to sustain important wildlife today. But it also changes lives: the research being conducted by TWU students and faculty is proving pivotal to their careers.
“Trinity Western is truly blessed by this forest here so close to our campus, allowing our students to come here and learn more about environmental studies, but also for the recreational aspects that it brings to the Langley community,” says Paul Weme, Vice-President for Development at TWU. Weme and Aklilu Mulat, Senior Vice-President of Business Administration and Chief Financial Officer, sought for a tangible way to express Trinity Western’s gratitude to Ann Blaauw, and initiated the process to produce this film.
The Blaauw Eco-Forest Documentary premiered in the fall of 2019 on the Trinity Western campus at an event celebrating Ann’s incredible gift to the university and regional community. TWU is excited to be working alongside Ann in giving back to the Langley community.
About Trinity Western University
Founded in 1962, Trinity Western University is Canada’s premier Christian liberal arts university dedicated to equipping students to find and fulfill their purpose in life. It is a fully accredited research institution offering liberal arts and sciences, as well as professional schools in business, nursing, education, human kinetics, graduate studies, and arts, media, and culture. TWU emphasizes academic excellence, research, and student engagement in a vibrant faith community devoted to supporting godly leaders seeking to have a transformational impact on culture.