Empowering youth leadership

Students aboard Achiever look at the charts during the Salish Sea Emerging Stewards program.

Photo by Mike Morash.

The Salish Sea Emerging Stewards program is based on the idea of consilience – the convergence of principles from different disciplines to form a comprehensive theory. In this case we seek to weave academic, scientific, and Indigenous perspectives on stewardship of the Salish Sea.

Now in its fourth season, we have continued to successfully engage a broad network of community partners to provide students with experiential nature-based learning that is hands-on and immersive. Partners now include Ocean Networks Canada, Parks Canada, Peninsula Streams, SeaChange, archaeologists, ethnobotanists, Coast Salish knowledge holders, our own educators (Maureen Vo and Nathanial Glickman), and our team at the Raincoast Applied Conservation Science Lab. We work with those serving Indigenous and underserved youth, the Cowichan school district, and the Red Fox Healthy Living Society. Collaboratively, we have engaged individuals from the Tsleil-Waututh, W̱SÁNEĆ, Squamish, Blackfoot, Métis, Chalkultan, Heiltsuk (Haíɫzaqv), and Cowichan Nations.

Experiential and immersive learning

With the support of this network, students scoured intertidal zones, trekked through temperate rainforests, built model clam gardens, and journeyed in traditional style canoes to understand the world through the lens of academic scientific and Indigenous knowledge.

Each year, Raincoast’s 66-foot research vessel, Achiever, serves as our floating classroom as students learn while sailing throughout the Salish Sea. Highlights have included contributing to “citizen-science” water quality testing with Ocean Networks Canada, breaching humpback whales, killer whale encounters, and bow-riding Dall’s porpoises. These types of experiences engage all the senses and provide lasting memories, as well as a deeper personal connection to, and understanding of, the Salish Sea.

Supporting emergent leaders

The program now provides a platform for these emerging Stewards at our annual celebration event. Here, students discuss their learning and perspectives, and showcase creative pieces including photography and art inspired by nature. 2019 also included our hire of three new Junior Leader staff, who join Raincoast crew in inspiring the next cohort of students.

Read the rest of our annual report.

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