Do you love being in nature?
Are you passionate about caring for the land and its creatures and considering a career in wilderness conservation, stewardship and land-based education?
Do you want to develop skills and connect with other youth who share that passion, in an environment that blends western science and traditional Indigenous knowledge?
If so, read on! You’ve come to the right place.
About the Canadian Wilderness Stewardship Program
The Canadian Wilderness Stewardship Program (CWSP) is an educational experience designed to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards by connecting youth to nature and fostering volunteer projects within their communities. It is delivered at no cost to participants and has 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 Fisher Bay wilderness excursion includes educational programming that will blend traditional teachings with western science. The 2022-23 CWSP excursion will be held from August 8th to 12th, 2022, in the Fisher Bay area.
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 have included wildlife monitoring with trail cameras, hide-tanning workshops , bird identification workshops, hunting workshops with community members and youth, online beading tutorials, medicinal plant research and advocacy, sweat lodge ceremonies, water quality monitoring, and various participant-led school presentations.
3. National Nature Summit
- Manitoba’s participants will have the 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.
- The 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 was held regionally due to Covid-19, with a virtual national summit to connect youth across CPAWS chapters.
- The 2022-23 Nature Summit will be held regionally due to Covid-19, with a virtual national summit to connect youth across CPAWS chapters.
What Are the Activities Planned for the Wilderness Excursion?
Youth will have the opportunity to participate in workshops that strike a balance between traditional knowledge and western science when it comes to environmental conservation.
Workshops will include topics such as wilderness safety, wildlife biology, water quality testing, boating and fishing, hunting and trapping, a medicinal plant hike and much more.
There will also be opportunities for team building through campfire stories, games, contests and a community dinner.
Why Fisher Bay?
The 2022-2023 CWSP excursion will be held in Fisher River Cree Nation the week of August 8th to 12th, 2022, on the shores of Fisher Bay. In addition to being the capstone event of the 2022-23 Canadian Wilderness Stewardship Program, it also offers a unique opportunity to connect youth to the Fisher River Cree Nation Conservation Areas Initiative, allowing them to learn what conservation work looks like in action.
As an Indigenous-led partnership spearheaded by Fisher River Cree Nation (FRCN) and supported by Peguis First Nation and CPAWS Manitoba, the FRCN Conservation Areas Initiative represents a collaborative, leading-edge approach to wilderness conservation.
The land surrounding Fisher Bay is remarkably undisturbed despite its relative short distance from urban, industrial and agricultural development. Every shoreline provides glimpses of the thriving biological diversity found here.
Expansive beaches line both mainland and islands. Fresh tracks are left in the sand by wolves, moose, foxes and bears passing in and out of old growth forests. Water birds continually wing by, travelling from nesting colonies to feeding grounds while songbirds bring the canopy to life with their calls. The lands and waters offer habitat for rare, threatened and endangered species including little brown bats, piping plovers, golden-winged warblers, shortjaw cisco, swamp pink and round-leaved bog orchid.
Our partners in Fisher River Cree Nation play a strong role in promoting stewardship and conservation of the region's natural landscapes, and traditional knowledge will be prominent in many of the learning opportunities.
Ready to Apply?
- Recruitment for the 2022-23 program will be open from June 6 - July 6, 2022
- Candidates shortlisted for the program will be contacted for follow-up interviews
- Use the link below to tell us why you should be part of the 2022-23 CWSP program. We look forward to hearing from you!
Become a Wilderness Steward
Are you passionate about caring for the land and its creatures and considering a career in wilderness conservation, stewardship and land-based education? Want to meet other young people who care about protecting the wilderness?
- Must be between 18-30 years old
- Must demonstrate an interest in the conservation of Canada’s wilderness
- Must have access to a computer and an internet connection
- Must be willing and able to participate in all three components of the program
- Preference will be given to Indigenous and newcomer youth, though all youth are encouraged to apply
What Covid-19 Safety Measures Will Be in Place?
During the wilderness expedition in August 2022, all participants, CPAWS staff and program facilitators will be following provincial health recommendations. The following precautions will be put in place:
- Daily check-ins and health screening of participants, staff and visitors
- Majority of workshops and activities will take place outdoors
- Large, well-ventilated tent will provide for physical distancing during poor weather
- Individual tents for each participant to sleep in
- Access to washrooms and running water for regular handwashing
- Meals and snacks will be served in individual portions to reduce handling
- Masks will be provided and required when adequate physical distancing is not possible
- Hand sanitizer will be provided for when handwashing is not possible (hikes, boating)
- Emergency health plans and procedures for staff
Need More Info?
- Find answers to some of our Frequently Asked Questions.
- Here’s a bit more on what participants can expect during the year.
- Contact Neil Bailey, CWSP Coordinator for CPAWS Manitoba at [email protected] with further questions.
- Check out the video from last year’s excursion:
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.
Since then, the Seal River Watershed Initiative has evolved into an Indigenous-led partnership between the Sayisi Dene First Nation and their Cree, Dene and Inuit neighbours. Learn more about indigenous-led conservation in this amazing region of our province through their video below:
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.
The 2022-2023 CWSP excursion will again be held in Fisher River Cree Nation.
The Canadian Wilderness Stewardship Program is funded by the Government of Canada under the Canada Service Corps program.
The 2021/22 CWSP program introduced participants to the community of Fisher River Cree Nation (FRCN) in the southeastern Interlake region of 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.
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.