Environment and Community Pioneer: Kelly Toots



Kelly is in his final year of a Biology and Environmental Studies degree, alongside a diploma in the restoration of natural systems. Originally from Summerland, BC, Kelly enjoys appreciating nature, getting outside, camping, meditation, yoga and biking.

            Kelly is part of a large variety of organizations on campus. Not only is he a Senior Community Leader (SCL), but he his also a part of UVic Community Cabbage, Healing Pathways Practice Group, and the Secret Bouldering Club. He also volunteers at Our Place and occasionally can be found at Spokes, and with the UVic Hula Love group.

            UVic Community Cabbage aims to discuss food security and sovereignty issues through sharing food. They want to bring more awareness to food waste, and also aim for grocery stores to give away their leftover food to charities to feed people that are hungry. Healing Pathways is a Practice group of beginner to intermediate healers who are trying to get more experience. “We are healing each other, you get to give and receive there. Leslie Black is always there, and is gifted and incredible, and it’s a huge privilege to work with her for free!” He is also a part of Secret Bouldering who “basically just climb things that we shouldn’t be.” As a SCL, he strives to provide a safe, welcoming community that fosters connections, growth and success; we are just building community, and making this a fun place to live. This is Kelly’s third year working with Residence Life and Education, and first time working as a SCL.

            These organizations are important to Kelly because they all embrace values that he honours and thinks are important like reducing waste, fostering growth and healing in people, and having fun. “I am around people I want to be around, and I’m learning a lot.” He hopes he can have an effect on the UVic community! He hopes people can share values with him and, be more careful with what they buy and throw away. He wants them to become aware of social pressures, and how they interact with people, and realize they have a choice in the decisions they make.

            Kelly assures that all of these groups are available, and are good for you if you are willing to try new things, and come into situations with an open mind. That is what University is all about, to him: learning, and getting exposure to all these new things. If you have questions feel free to come talk to Kelly, or find any of these groups online!

Kelly loves travelling, and is full of travelling insight and humbling stories. He has been to Bolivia (for 3 months volunteering with Bolivian youth), Sweden, Norway, France, Germany, Finland (on a biking trip), Mongolia, China, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia (to teach English), Israel, Egypt, Serbia, Turkey, Bulgaria, England, Spain, and Ireland.

People often recognize Kelly because he walks on campus barefoot. “Why do I walk barefoot? I worked in my uncle’s farm in Port Alberni, and I feel like I get to be more connected to the ground. Bare feet make us more connected, and I like walking on bare “natural” ground. I also like walking on pavement to see how we’ve grown. I think we don’t need shoes in the summer time. It’s just more reasons to harvest and exploit resources and spend money. [Material things are] distractions, and it let’s people make a living, but they could be doing things that are more beneficial to the community

“Sometimes I wear shoes, and sometimes I don’t. It’s not black and white, and [we] have the freedom to create and do whatever we want to do. This gives me a good opportunity to explore this. It’s a good practice for me. I don’t like breaking rules, but when I go to the grocery store without shoes, and it’s good to resist these rules. It just feels good to feel the earth. It brings me close to my body too. You don’t have to wash socks either.”

Kelly is a Senior Community Leader in the Tower Residence this year, and welcomes anyone to feel free and chat with him.