After migrating to Canada in the 1970s, valley resident Lucas Stiefvater is giving back to his adopted home by matching up to $25,000 in donations to the Comox Valley Food Bank.
Mr. Stiefvater came to Canada in 1972 from Germany, seeking adventure and the trip of a lifetime. He travelled around the United States via Greyhound bus, came to Canada and eventually decided to stay in Vancouver after seeing the beauty of the area.
“There was a beautiful sunny day, the Lions were still capped with snow, the sun was just rising at six o’clock in the morning and the ocean was active with whitecaps,” Lucas describes. “My friend and I looked at each other and said ‘why do we want to go to Toronto? Why don’t we stay here?’”
He was able to find work in Vancouver. But his wanderlust got the better of him and Lucas began a journey from town to town in the province mainly fueled by business.
“I like creating things and building things and then once it’s done, I’m done and I need to go the next one,” he says.
Putting his chef and hotel management apprenticeships to use, he and his wife Annemarie ran restaurants and resorts including Clayoquot Resort on Stubbs Island near Tofino, B.C. and the Aspen Hotel in Smithers.
Lucas settled in the Comox Valley in late 1990. In 1991, he bought and developed the Kingfisher Resort and Spa in Royston and acquired the Ocean Resort in Oyster Bay later on.
In 2006 Lucas achieved his Canadian citizenship. Now retired, he is celebrating his time in Canada through donations to the Comox Valley Food Bank.
He says his many years in the food industry have highlighted the importance of giving back through the food bank.
“What resonates with me is when I see people who are not fortunate enough to put enough food on the table because I feel very blessed,” he says. “I’ve spent some time at the food bank and it’s just so heart opening and it’s a gift that we have this food bank here in the Comox Valley.”
Lucas also wants to destigmatize the notion of people seeking assistance from a food bank.
He says people can donate through the food bank’s website, and tag Lucas to the donation and he will match it.
The same donation amount will also be matched to the Comox Valley Land Trust because of his love of nature and the outdoors.
Reflecting on his time in Canada, he wants to thank the country for the opportunities it has given him and tells others to not hold back on their dreams.
“Not everything went well, I came down to being virtually bankrupt at one time and had to go and regroup again and so on. There’s been lots of challenges” he said. “Time goes on and we just have to keep going forward and not just see the negatives.”
“Stay neutral and see what’s in front of you and take the opportunity.”