During the spring/summer of 2019, 40 Canadian youth aged 18-30 came together along the North Shore of Lake Superior for a 10-day expedition as part of Ocean Wise’s Ocean Bridge program. Ocean Bridge’s mission is to empower young people to make an impact in ocean conservation by giving them the tools and confidence to lead educational and service projects in their own communities. Over the coming weeks,
Canadian Geographic will feature the voices of some of this year’s Ocean Bridge team as they reflect on their experiences discovering Lake Superior and the people who call it home.
It has been months now since I came back from Ocean Bridge’s 2019 wilderness expedition. The 10 days I spent on the North Shore of Lake Superior were simply unforgettable and left a huge impact on the way I perceive the world. Even after a period of reflection and mental digestion, I am still processing my experience. Now, I feel as if it has set me on a new quest for the rest of my life.
To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect from this trip. I knew that I was going to meet the other 39 Ocean Bridge youth from all across Canada for the first time, get to know them and experience First Nations culture in the area, and that we would volunteer our time and service in various ways related to water.
Based on the name of the trip, “Lake Superior Wilderness Expedition,” and the resources our wonderful Ocean Bridge mentors sent us beforehand – “What to do when you encounter a bear” and “Bugs in Northern Ontario,” for example – I expected this trip was not going to be the most glamorous. And I was kind of right: numerous bug bites, constipation, freezing cold nights (when sleeping in the tipis, which was nevertheless a cool experience – I was just underprepared), greasy hair, t-shirts that smelled like campfire … you get the picture.
But boy, was that experience absolutely incredible! I took away an important life lesson from this trip: That one of the most important parts of living life is learning to live together, whether that is with other people or with other creatures on the Earth.
Living with other people (a.k.a. FRIENDSHIP)
To me, Ocean Bridge is such a unique program in that we all come from different backgrounds. our areas of study and experiences vary from business to science to communications, and our jobs vary even more. But we came together with one vision – to take care of our oceans, waterways and nature at large.
At first, I was a bit nervous and intimidated because everyone else seemed so knowledgeable, experienced, and they seemed to know exactly what to do in the wilderness. Meanwhile, I can’t even swim, I don’t know how to start a fire, and I never even knew that the bug head net was a thing until this trip.
As the trip went on, I realized that everyone has different but unique colours. And by colours, I mean unique abilities and talents that each of us are born with. I started to see my own colour. What I can contribute to the world and how I connect with nature may be different from others. As we recognize and celebrate each others’ colours, we are opening up possibilities to merge those colours to create a beautiful spectrum that will shine onto this world. I have had the privilege to hear many stories from my fellow Ocean Bridgers (oh my, some of them have lived quite the lives) and we all seem to share the same genuine concern for the health of our ecosystems, but also an enthusiasm about what we can do to bring about positive change in the world. How beautiful is it to create meaning out of our coexistence?