I was a part of the Take Back the Wild BC for 2017, a 3 day program hosted by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society-BC Chapter (CPAWS BC). It was an opportunity for young adults between the age 18-30 to learn more about marine conservation and it's also a great chance for them to develop the knowledge, skills and capacity to create marine conservation projects throughout the region. The event was held at Strathcona Parks Lodge on Vancouver Island and it was an amazing weekend of meeting and interacting with youth from around the West coast.
Throughout most of my life, ocean conservation was not a topic I had much knowledge or understanding about. As someone who grew up in the city, my knowledge of the ocean was limited.
However, after 3 summers of working with Parks Canada, I gained more understanding about the preservation and conservation of our marine protected areas. Still, my knowledge of the ocean was still limited, due to my lack of interaction. My first real interaction and training on ocean related topics was at the Take Back the Wild- Marine Conservation Workshop with CPAWS.
I heard about Take Back the Wild from my Northern Engagement team partner, Caroline. She sent me the information before I left for our job in Vancouver. After looking it over, I was intrigued about the topic and applied. Thankfully, I was selected to attend the weekend.
The weekend was truly an eye-opener. The workshop was held at the Strathcona Park Lodge & Outdoor Education Center. We were surrounded by mountains and beautiful lakes and learned so much from amazing speakers and facilitators.
I was surrounded by over 20 youth from the BC area. They were all enthusiastic and passionate about ocean related issues. Living and spending the weekend with them allowed me to experience BC and the passion of its people.
Throughout the weekend, we were given many workshops and lectures on various topics, ranging from introduction to marine conservation to story-telling tips. While most of the lessons were based on marine conservation, they were easily transferable to other fields and projects. Some of my favourite workshops were the community and public engagement workshops led by Celine Trojand from Organizing for Change. I was able to better relate to Celine’s workshop on relationship building and foster connections as it overlapped with my work in urban planning and city building.
I also quite enjoyed the sessions led by Jackie Hildering, a renown Humpback Whale Researcher and the Director of Education with the Marine Education and Research Society. Her presentation was on inspiring others and using hope rather than despair to look towards our future. She spoke of the various issues and problems within many existing environmental movements such as pessimism, the perception that one has to be a martyr and the hostile actions. I wholeheartedly agree with Jackie’s belief that in order to address current issues, we need to work from a different perspective by building coalitions and engaging people from different backgrounds. These lessons from the amazing speakers stuck with me and helped me formulate a new understanding and appreciation for the work to come.
Take Back the Wild was truly a special experience. Being immersed and surrounded by bright minds and amazing mentors, I was able to learn so much about not just marine conservation, but how to connect and inspire others. I was gifted with many tools and knowledge such as Indigenous affairs, media relations, campaigning and political advice. The weekend provided me with the knowledge and tools and confidence to engage in marine conservation. It broadened my understanding of how things are being managed in BC and what the people were doing. It also gave me a new sense of appreciation and knowledge of the topic and what it really meant.
In conclusion, the weekend was an amazing journey with some awesome people. I made many new friends and this experience truly set the path towards making a difference in our oceans.