Wising Up: Youth in Service

Clean up crew team shot at T’aalan Stl’ang. PC: Ocean Wise

Ileah Mattice

Ocean Bridge by Ocean Wise is a program supported by Canada Service Corps that brings Canadian youth (18-30) together to help make a difference in ocean conservation. This year 39 youth traveled to Haida Gwaii on one of this season’s first expeditions addressing Ocean Health. Among the group was Skil Jaadaa Vanessa Fladmark from Gaw and Victoria Leslie from HlGaagilda.

After months of planning and designing their marine conservation service projects the group spent 10 days on the Islands delivering the projects.

The Ocean Bridge experience has three elements to support the youth as they develop these service projects. They are: Community & Capacity Building, Ocean Health Wilderness Expedition, and Ocean Literacy and Urban Journey. Each element plays a role in adopting the culture of service for the chosen community. The intention of the expedition is to connect youth with the local community so they can learn about what is needed to protect ocean health.

To ready themselves for the expedition, the team worked on individual challenges to prepare for their service in Haida Gwaii, Vancouver and their own communities. Projects and services include traditional knowledge, storytelling, direct-action, outreach and education, and science.

On May 22, the group traveled to T’aalan Stl’ang to complete one of their direct-action services. This service was a marine debris clean-up, which they also continued along Gaatsguusd North Beach later in their visit. Led by Rediscovery Program Coordinators Sandlanee Gid Raven Ann Potschka and Lucy Neville, and Ocean Bridge Program Manager Nicole Straughan, the team collected microplastics and other debris along the shoreline while learning about the cultural history of the area. The group collected 300lbs of debris around T’aalan Stl’ang, and about 2000lbs along Gaatsguusd.

While on Haida Gwaii, Ocean Bridge participants connected with Elders and volunteers, and met the local community by organizing another outreach event. The project was in collaboration with Gwaii Haanas, Nee Kun Naikoon Provincial Park, Skidegate Band Council, Old Massett Village Council, Council of the Haida Nation and the Hiellen Longhouse Village.

During the expeditions, participants were encouraged to share their experience on social media. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter and learn more about their program on their website at bridge.ocean.org.

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