Tech entrepreneur Dax Dasilva has given a big boost to conservation efforts in BC. He made a $14.5 million donation to the BC Parks Foundation. The donation came through Dasilva’s non-profit foundation, Age of Union Alliance, and it’s the single largest donation ever made to the BC Parks Foundation.
$1 million of this huge donation is helping to protect 23 acres of the French Creek estuary north of Parksville. The land is important habitat for resident and migrating bald eagles.
“It’s a migratory stopping point…, and of course, there are resident eagles, and it’s surrounded by subdivisions,” Dasilva said in a recent CBC report. “If we didn’t protect it, I think we would be really endangering the future generations of eagles.”
The land is valued at $5,180,000. Locals knew they wanted to buy the property to protect it, but they had only raised $200,000. The owner, French Creek House Ltd., agreed to donate $3,280,000 in land value if BC Parks Foundation could raise the rest by April 10.
The clock was ticking.
But BC Parks Foundation has raised last-minute money for big projects before.
“Every time, there’s a kind of magic that happens that’s hard to explain,” Andy Day, the CEO of BC Parks Foundation, told Black Press. “But every time we’re able to do it, it comes down to the last day when our knuckles are white.”
Dasilva’s big gift and smaller ones from dozens of community members helped get the project over the finish line.
Dasilva is the founder of Lightspeed, a global cloud-based commerce platform. He has an estimated net worth of $1 billion. When he launched Age of Union in 2021, he pledged to donate $40 million toward conservation efforts worldwide.
Dasilva’s fascinating personal journey began in BC. He was born to Ugandan parents who emigrated to Canada. He grew up in Vancouver and attended a Catholic high school, where he came out as gay at the age of 14.
Afterwards, he enrolled at UBC to study computer science before switching to religion and art history. While at university, he drove to Vancouver Island to join the “War in the Woods” protest against old-growth logging in Clayoquot Sound.
He later quit UBC and moved to Montreal. In 2005, he launched Lightspeed while on a spiritual journey that led him to convert to Judaism.
Lightspeed has become a diversity and inclusivity leader in the tech sector. Dasilva is also one of the leading advocates for LGBTQ rights in Montreal.