YOW - Youth on Water, Hazelton

Date and time: Mon, August 02, 2010 - 6:00 am
City/Town: Hazelton, BC
Venue: Bulkley, Suskwa & Skeena Rivers

The Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition’s Youth on Water (YOW) program teaches youth real-world river skills and while fostering an appreciation for the Skeena watershed.
Program goals:

1. Raise awareness of environmental conservation issues in the Skeena.
2. Build self-esteem and empower youth to become community leaders.
3. Help youth develop tangible, transferable job skills.
4. Provide meaningful, healthy recreation opportunities for youth.

What youth participants can expect:
• A series of watershed sustainability education modules, delivered by relevant professionals.
• A cultural component, developed in consultation with local First Nations.
• A chance to make tangible contributions to conservation through data gathering expeditions.
• A chance to share their experiences through community presentations.
• River skill training, including first aid, swiftwater rescue, introduction to whitewater raft guiding and introduction to whitewater kayaking.
• Regularly scheduled river expeditions, as well as movie nights and other social events.

Learning about fish and wildlife
Last season, a local fish biologist and former Department of Fisheries and Oceans employee provided the YOW participants with a rare glimpse into the life cycle of Skeena salmon and trout. Each participant now has a better understanding of the role of salmon and other wildlife in maintaining the health of the watershed.

Whitewater skills training
Over the course of the program, YOW participants became proficient in whitewater skills, including an introduction to swift water rescue. They practiced their newfound skills frequently on every river trip. By the end of the program, all participants came away with real- world whitewater skills they could apply on any river in the world.

First Nations collaboration
Through a partnership with the Gitanmaax band council, YOW was able to include an employment component in our program. Each of the YOW participants was hired by the Band to learn the skills of raft guiding. Collaboration with Gitanmaax will continue into the future.


*Looking to the future…*
Youth on Water’s first year was a huge success and we expect to increase the program’s capacity for the coming season. YOW hopes to provide opportunities to the First Nations communities of Moricetown, K’saan, Gitsegucla, Kitwanga and Kitselas. Our inclusive program will strengthen the connection between young people of the Skeena Watershed and the River that we hold dear. The future of our watersheds rests in the hands of our young people because it is they who will take up the fight in the future. The future is YOW.

Kim Ward
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