Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition: Working together to protect our landscape and lifestyle

Our Projects

YOW! (Youth on Water) Program

The Future is YOW!

Youth on Water (YOW) is now in full swing with our most successful year yet! Now running 5 programs in communities across the North. We have never seen such high numbers in the programs with the success due to the networking and contacts amongst our communities. With a large thanks to the committed youth workers and the growing visibility of the program we have filled every course this year.

The participants learn how to oar their own raft, read and understand water and currents and learn rescue techniques. Each day, a local expert like a fisheries biologist, Elder or conservationist join the crew to teach other important things like salmon, their habitiat and why it's important to our ecosystem and survival of the Northern communities. The youth involved in the YOW programs not only experience white water, life skills and education, they also have the opportunity to create lasting connections with people in their watershed and  first hand knowledge of First Nations in the area. Some of the inspiring connections made through YOW have brought youth into other projects SWCC work on, such as CLAW (Conservation Leadership Action Workshops) and youth mentoring.

The What is YOW!?

Youth on Water (YOW!) is the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition’s flagship program. While there is no formal certification at the end of the course it is more than just an outdoor recreation program. YOW! is focused on empowering local youth through water level activities.

The responsibility of stewardship in one of the most extraordinary regions in North America will soon fall into the hands of the youth in our region. The YOW! program aims to raise youth and community awareness about the importance of our rivers, for recreation, culture and survival.

YOW! helps to educate young people, their families and communities on the current threats to the integrity of the Skeena Watershed and develops today’s youth into tomorrow’s conservation leaders. The future is YOW!

The HOW of  YOW!

The Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition is dedicated to ensuring that the YOW! program remains FREE to participants. In 2013 this is made possible with the support of our partners: Tides Canada Initiatives and the Gitanmaax Band Council.

The success of the YOW! program is testament to the unwavering support of our community: First Nations partnerships, generous donations and sponsorship from SWCC members, the unwavering commitment of SWCC staff and volunteers, and of course, through the participation of our youth!

The NEW of 2013 YOW!

With the success of this year it will leave little to improve on for next year. However we will always be fine tuning things in the YOW program such as working with the Storytellers Foundation and SkeenaWild to add in fun things like a film portion (where youth film and edit their own rafting highlight reel). One thing we will never change that leads this program to it's true success, are the youth that continue to surprise us with their ability to grow exponentially faster than we can ever predict. They are the future of our watershed and that is what keeps this program going every year. The future is YOW!

YOW! Program Goals

1) To raise awareness amongst local youth about conservation issues in the Skeena.

2)  To build self-esteem amongst the youth participants and empower them to become leaders in their communities.

3) To develop river and rafting job skills to equip local youth with tangible and transferable job skills that will assist them in their future vocations.

4) To provide meaningful, and healthy, recreation opportunities for local youth.

5) To provide youth with an opportunity to learn about traditional First Nations stewardship of the Sacred Headwaters and Skeena Watershed.

YOW! 2013

The YOW! program varies from year to year, but one thing always remains the same, YOW! gets youth out on the river, learning and having fun!

We are proud to announce that YOW! 2013 will be held in the following communities this summer!  

The 2013 YOW! Program Structure

The 2013 program is designed to inspire youth about the outdoors, provide valuable raft and swift water skills and educate youth about local environmental issues.

While participants do not gain any formal certification at the completion of YOW! the program provides a great taster for youth interested in pursuing careers in the outdoors and conservation.

White water skills training  After an introduction to swift water rescue training, YOW! participants get to practice their new skills on every river trip. How to recognize danger, choosing the best line through a set of rapids and what to do if you fall out of the raft in the rapids! By the end of the program each student will come away with real whitewater skills to apply on any river in the world and stay safe.

Fish and Wildlife – With the help of local fish biologists YOW! participants gain a rare glimpse into the life cycle of Skeena salmon and trout.  Youth learn how to identify and sample fish with experts to understand the role of salmon and other wildlife in the watershed.

First Nations Collaboration – The YOW! program is developed in partnership with local First Nations. Particpants will learn about the history and culture of this region, and how it is important to the overall understanding of how we are connected to the watershed, and to each other.

Raising awareness about developments in the Sacred Headwaters – The Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition works with youth to educate them about the developments in the Sacred Headwaters and their downstream impacts on the river and environment.  At the end of this module, the youth will have an understanding of impacts of developments on their watershed, and will feel confident speaking on the topic in their communities.

Self esteem building, leadership, and skills training – SWCC works hard to ensure that the YOW Program is not only lots of fun, but also builds self-esteem and the capacity of our awesome youth. Our goal is that all our youth participants make new friends, connect with positive role models, learn new skills and knowledge and become empowered as leaders!

Find out more about YOW!

Contact Cynthia McCreery for more information:


Ph: 250-842-2494

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The Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition, Tides Canada Initiatives and the Gitanmaax Band Council are proud to bring you YOW! 2013