You may have noticed over the past few weeks – particularly if you’ve kept an eye on our @OceanWiseYouth Instagram account – young Canadians with Ocean Wise’s Ocean Bridge program taking part in ‘learning journeys’ to iconic locations across Canada.

These learning journeys allow our young ocean ambassadors, aged between 18 and 30, to participate in place-based ocean stewardship projects and deepen their understanding of the challenges facing the ocean.

They build collective knowledge, through discussion and reflection, of the actions young people can take to ensure Ocean Wise’s mission of a healthy and flourishing ocean for generations to come.

Between July and October 2020, Ocean Bridge will have led an amazing 19 remote learning journeys. Each bring up to eight youth together for 10-day immersive experiences in special marine and freshwater regions, learning from the people who rely on them and are working to protect them.

Learning journeys for 2020 have been modified to keep participants, staff and the communities visited safe with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic by adhering to health and travel advisories.

Here’s an overview of the experiences Ocean Bridge youth will live on each of their immersive learning journeys this summer and fall:

Howe Sound and the Southern Gulf Islands, BC
Participants are immersed in cultural teachings from the local Squamish Nations including traditional fishing practices, cedar weaving and ethnobotany alongside stewardship projects including iNaturalist biodiversity surveys, shoreline cleanups and trail maintenance. The group will use knowledge gathered to develop ocean education kits for the summer camp. As part of their experience, participants will spend three nights sailing through the Southern Gulf Islands proposed National Marine Conservation Area Reserve onboard the 1904 Providence tall ship.

Saguenay – St. Lawrence, Quebec
While exploring the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park, participants are learning about the role of the marine park in protecting the habitat of humpback, blue, fin and minke whales, as well as the iconic at-risk beluga. Indigenous perspectives from the local Pekuakamiulnuatsh Innu culture will be shared by members of the Mashteuiatsh community, including emphasis on the important connection held between women and water. Participants will also contribute to stewardship initiatives including shoreline cleanups, water quality testing with Water Rangers, and sharing solutions to the four pillars Ocean Wise has identified as the main threats to ocean conservation: pollution, habitat loss, unsustainable ressource extraction, and climate change.

Lake Huron and the Bruce Peninsula, Ontario
On the shores of Lake Huron, Ocean Bridge participants discover the complex social, geological and natural histories of the Great Lakes, as well as current threats to their conservation including microplastics and tourism. Diverse perspectives will be shared with participants from members of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, Chippewas of Nawash First Nation, Metis peoples, the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, Ontario Provincial Parks, and local citizen scientists. The youth will experience the region through kayak, sailing and hiking excursions and participate in shoreline cleanups throughout.

South & Eastern Shores, Nova Scotia
Participants are engaging with the people and places that contribute to the strong maritime identity in the Atlantic provinces. Teachings from local historians about the Mi’kmaq’s cultural and spiritual ties to the marine environment will complete the participants’ field experience surveying migratory birds and participation in various stewardship activities including shoreline cleanups, dune stabilization and outreach with beach visitors. Finally, participants will learn about Marine Protected Area (MPA) designation during a two-night immersive kayak trip around the 100 Wild Islands – an Area of Interest for future MPA designation.

North Shore of Lake Superior, Ontario
On the North Shore of Lake Superior, participants are immersed in local Indigenous Knowledge, cultural practices and stewardship activities while exploring this unique and stunning region of Canada. The group will carry forward the 2019 environmental assessment project in Hurkett Cove, discover the extent of microplastic pollution by kayak, collaborate with the Ocean Bridge Direct Action participants on Porphyry Island, participate in the development of accessible trails and contribute to biodiversity surveys in the region using iNaturalist.

The Rocky Mountains, Alberta
The Alberta learning journey is a pilot program in partnership with Outward Bound Canada during which Outward Bound will guide the participants and Ocean Wise staff on a 10-day backcountry hike into the Rocky Mountains. During the wilderness experience, participants explore their interconnectedness with ocean health as inland residents through the Bow River watershed. Navigating both on- and off-trail, and camping in lake and river wilderness settings offers challenges and rewards that will allow youth to discover their resiliency, feel empowered and become mindful of themselves, their actions and their relationship with water.

By living, working and reflecting as teams in iconic natural settings, these youth and young professionals will develop social capital, respect for diversity and a heightened sense of responsibility and pride in the natural environment, themselves, and one another.

What is Ocean Bridge?
Ocean Bridge brings together 160 young Canadians aged 18-30 to form four national cohorts – Pacific, Great Lakes, St. Lawrence and Atlantic – composed of youth with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences who are passionate about making a difference in their communities through the lens of oceans and waterway conservation. These Ocean Bridge Ambassadors from all across Canada work together, receive funding and learn from experts in marine conservation and education through an online platform and in-person learning journeys to develop service projects related to ocean health and ocean literacy in communities across the country. Ocean Bridge is an Ocean Wise initiative funded by the Canada Service Corps through the Government of Canada.

Canada Service Corps
Canada Service Corps is designed to generate a culture of service among young Canadians; concrete results for communities; personal growth through participation in a diverse team of peers; and lasting impacts on participants. Visit www.canada.ca/CanadaServiceCorps to learn more and how to get involved in the way that works best for you.

Below is a list of 2020 Ocean Bridge learning journeys by region:

Howe Sound/Gulf Islands/Salish Sea – British Columbia
Aug. 14-23
Aug. 21-30
Sep. 4-13
Oct. 2-11

Lake Huron/Bruce Peninsula – Ontario
Aug. 14-23
Aug. 20-29
Aug. 29-Sep. 7
Sep. 11-20

North Shore of Lake Superior – Ontario
Aug. 29-Sep. 7

Saguenay/St. Lawrence – Québec
Aug. 14-23
Aug. 29-Sep. 6
Oct. 16-25

Southern and Eastern Atlantic Shores – Nova Scotia
Aug. 21-30
Sep. 4-13
Oct. 2-11

Rocky Mountain Watersheds – Alberta
Sep. 8-17

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