The Canadian Wilderness Stewardship Program is designed to empower the next generation of Canada’s environmental stewards by providing the tools and confidence they need to advocate for protecting Canada’s land and waters.
The program begins with wilderness excursions in critically important areas of the country in need of protection.
Youth are then provided with support to deliver community-service projects focused on conservation or education.
The program culminates with a Nature Summit where the diverse group of young stewards from across Canada share what they have accomplished and receive training in civic engagement, conservation, leadership, and advocacy.
The first Nature Summit was held in Ottawa in March 2020 for youth who participated in excursions during the summer and fall of 2019. The following Nature Summits were shifted online due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Programming is currently offered by CPAWS chapters in Manitoba, Southern Alberta, the Ottawa Valley and New Brunswick. There is no cost for participants.
Manitoba Supports Indigenous Youth
Manitoba has focused on working with Indigenous partners to deliver programming that will lay the groundwork for Indigenous Guardians programs in the Seal River Watershed and the Fisher Bay area.
Indigenous Guardians welcome visitors and act as stewards of the lands, waters and wildlife.
The 2019 Tadoule Lake Stewardship Summit aimed to foster future leaders, teach valuable stewardship skills and connect Indigenous youth with both traditional practices and western science activities.
Community service projects delivered by the Dene, Cree and Inuit youth included a hide-tanning workshop in Arviat, a presentation to grade 6-12 students at Peter Yassie Memorial School in Tadoule Lake and wildlife monitoring using trail cameras in O-Pipon-Na-Piwin First Nation.
The 2020 Fisher Bay Stewardship Summit shifted online due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Youth from Fisher River Cree Nation, Peguis First Nation and Kinonjeoshtegon First Nation participated in online workshops. They contributed to their communities through volunteer projects which included:
- Supporting the land-based learning program with Fisher River High School
- Hunting workshops with community members and youth;
- Online beading tutorials;
- Medicinal plant research and advocacy;
- Community wellness events; and
- Sweat lodge ceremonies.
We were able to offer an in-person nature excursion in August 2021 at the Fisher River Cree Nation Youth Cabin.
We gathered with 10 inspiring young women who were eager to learn new ways to engage their communities in environmental stewardship. Outdoor survival and safety, medicinal plants, and restoring Lake Winnipeg were just a few workshops participants took part in over the week. They also learned about our efforts to protect the southeastern Interlake in partnership with Fisher River Cree Nation and Peguis First Nation.
Learn more about the 2021-22 program here.
The Canadian Wilderness Stewardship Program is funded by the Government of Canada under the Canada Service Corps program.
How We Empower Youth
The Canadian Wilderness Stewardship Program engages youth through three components: a wilderness excursion, community service projects and a Nature Summit.
1. Wilderness excursions in critically important areas of the country in need of protection.
- Participants should be comfortable camping, hiking and canoeing for multiple days and nights.
- The Manitoba component includes educational programming and has been focused on engaging Indigenous youth.
2. Community-service projects focused on conservation or education.
- Participants have the freedom to choose what type of community service project they want to deliver.
- CPAWS staff can help participants design and deliver the project.
- Costs associated with delivering the service project will be covered by CPAWS upon prior approval (eg: trail cameras, honorariums for elders, trail clearing equipment).
- Projects delivered by CPAWS Manitoba participants in 2019-20 included wildlife monitoring with trail cameras, a hide-tanning workshop in Arviat and a presentation to grade 6-12 students at Peter Yassie Memorial School in Tadoule Lake.
- Projects delivered by CPAWS Manitoba participants in 2020-21 included supporting the land-based learning program with Fisher River High School, hunting workshops with community members & youth, online beading tutorials, medicinal plant research and advocacy, and sweat lodge ceremonies.
- Participants in 2021-22 worked on projects including: a community litter cleanup in Brandon, hosting a workshop to connect Metis youth to land based learning, and creating an environmental student group in Niverville.
3. National Nature Summit
- Manitoba’s participants will have a chance to meet young people from New Brunswick, the Ottawa Valley and Southern Alberta.
- Program participants will share what they’ve learned and accomplished.
- Additional training will be offered in civic engagement, conservation, leadership, and advocacy.
- 2019-20 Nature Summit was held in Ottawa. Youth toured Parliament Hill, spoke with three members of parliament, hiked in Gatineau Park, explored the Canadian Museum of History and even did some team-building axe-throwing.
- The 2020-21 Nature Summit was held virtually due to Covid-19 restrictions.
- The 2021-22 Nature Summit will be held regionally due to Covid-19, with a virtual national summit to connect youth across CPAWS chapters.
WHAT COVID-19 SAFETY MEASURES WILL BE IN PLACE?
Plans for the 2020 Fisher Bay Stewardship Summit included the following precautions. We anticipate similar precautions in 2021.
- All participants, CPAWS staff, and program facilitators will follow provincial health recommendations
- Daily check-ins & health screening of participants, staff and visitors
- Majority of workshops and activities will take place outdoors
- Large, well-ventilated tent will provide for social distancing during poor weather
- Individual tents for each participant to sleep in
- Access to washrooms and running water for regular hand washing
- Meals and snacks will be served in individual portions to reduce handling
- Masks will be provided and required when adequate social distancing is not possible
- Hand sanitizer will be provided for when hand washing is not possible (hikes, boating)
- Emergency health plans and procedures for staff
Inspiring the Next Generation of Environmental Stewards
We gathered on the shore of Fisher Bay for an educational experience designed to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards.
Indigenous Youth Connect at 2020-21 Nature Summit
Youth from First Nations in Manitoba learned about environmental stewardship at the Canadian Wilderness Stewardship Program Nature Summit.
Indigenous Youth Learn Stewardship Skills with Support of CPAWS Manitoba
The Canadian Wilderness Stewardship Program brings together youth participants from three Indigenous communities in Manitoba.
Tadoule Lake Stewardship Summit
"It was nice meeting new people — meeting Aboriginal people — and I’ve gained new friendships and learned a lot of new things.
"I’ve learned that it’s important that we protect our land because this is where our ancestors survived and it’s important to keep our traditions and our culture alive.”
Kirsten Pameolik, who was among four youth from Arviat at the September 2019 summit.
Ottawa Nature Summit - 2020
Young people from Manitoba, Nunavut, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick gathered in Ottawa to share what they'd accomplished and gain additional training in civic engagement and conservation advocacy.
Ottawa Nature Summit - 2020
Hear Rainer Duck of Manitoba's O-Pipon-Na-Piwin First Nation speak about his experiences in Tadoule Lake and Ottawa.