Updated: Nov 14, 2020
A MESSAGE FROM OUR FOUNDER!
This is the story of how the Pristine Blue Initiative came to be, but I also want to tell a bigger story about the ocean and the people that inspired me.
What is the ocean? This question had a different meaning during different stages of my life. I was born close to the Indian Ocean. At that time, I was still young and didn’t know the meaning of the ocean or what it represented. After immigrating to Canada when I was seven, I grew up by the shores of the Great Lakes. It was here that I slowly learned the meaning of water and began to appreciate the importance of mother nature and what it provided. For many years, the Great Lakes were my only connection to water and I knew little of the ocean. However, everything changed this past February when I travelled to Japan on a cultural exchange. It was here I first laid my eyes on the Pacific Ocean. While there, I learned from the locals about the myths of the sea goddess along with many stories of the Pacific. I also learned so much about the importance of the ocean for their livelihood and culture. This experience sowed the seed of ocean conservation and made me think about the ocean for the first time in my life.
My knowledge and appreciation for the ocean grew after I moved to Vancouver for the summer. My first introduction to the West Coast was “Take Back the Wild”, a three-day marine conservation retreat/workshop hosted by Canadian Parks and Wildness Society (CPAWS). It was here I learned so much more about the ocean. From the underwater marine biologists sharing stories about the glass sponge reefs, to the various efforts in creating new marine conservation areas to underwater photographers capturing the mysteries of the deep, through this experience, I was able to create a marine-theme workshop for high-school students in Toronto. I was able to connect with their passion for conservation and share my experiences working in the field. While in Vancouver, I also worked as part of the Parks Canada Northern Engagement Team. Throughout this amazing opportunity, I learned so much more about our ocean. From experiencing the sunset at the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve to hosting BioBlitz at Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, I learned more and more about the biodiversity of the ocean and its fragility to pollution and human actions.
Throughout the summer, I was part of a working group that created a report on Youth Engagement in Marine Conservation where we prepared 10 recommendations on ways to better engage youth in the field. I also had the honour of traveling through the Arctic as part of the 2017 Students on Ice Arctic Expedition. This journey up north opened my eyes to the impact of climate change and ocean pollution. I witnessed plastic caps in polar bear scats. I saw plastics in the ocean beside large majestic whales and I gasped as large chunks of ice fell off glaciers. This amazing and emotional experience strengthened my determination to do my part in protecting our beautiful and fragile oceans. I also want to learn new skills and tools to better connect and share this experiences with others in my community.
About a week after the conclusion of my Arctic expedition, I was part of the Canadian Delegation at the 4th International Marine Protected Area Congress (IMPAC4) in Chile. While there, I met and spoke to scientists, youth, politicians and educators from around the world. Throughout the week, I learned so much about the different initiatives happening around the world and the different projects happening in various local communities. These conversations and interactions made me think about how amazing it would be to bring some of these ideas back to Canada. As Canada will be the host for IMPAC5, I want to do my part in creating more projects and initiatives that would engage and connect Canadians to our ocean.
This year, I was fortunate to be a part of the inaugural Ocean Bridge program. In May, it was our Haida Gwaii expedition. It was an eye-opening and awesome experience and it was such a privilege being surrounded by so many passionate and amazing young people from across Canada. There was so much learning throughout the 10 days in Haida Gwaii, from the magic of the land, to the Haida elders, to the knowledge and wisdom provided everyone. This experience left an emotional and lasting impact on me.
Coming back from that trip, I wanted to do something more with my experience. Knowing that there are many other passionate and amazing young people in Toronto, I wanted to reach out to them and make a difference in our communities. The Pristine Blue Initiative started off as a simple idea but now it's something much bigger. It's an opportunity for change and its an opportunity to instill greatness. We all have a story, and hopefully The Pristine Blue Initiative will be a place where we can share stories and inspire more young people to step up and change the world.