Six RSS students learn they can make a difference

RSS teacher Ms. Kristen Fawcett, Saara Tapanainen, Jessie Booker, Melanie Davies, Emma Flood, Mikayla Faucett, Gordon Mason. Alice Weber/Parks Canada photo

By Melanie Davies

On April 14th six students from Revelstoke Secondary school, Jessie Booker, Emma Flood, Saara Tapanainen, Mikayla Faucett, Gordon Mason, and Melanie Davies, joined about 50 other BC and Alberta students at the Palisades Stewardship Education Centre in Jasper National Park. We went to the youth summit on Sustainability to become more aware about the world around us and our impact on it. Many guest speakers from around North America came to tell us about their life’s work, sharing activities with us that were fun and exciting.

When we first got to the Palisades, we settled into our rustic cabins, except for Gordon, who had brand new accommodation in a dorm.  We started with an intro session and ice-breakers with funny and musical Brendan Mcleod. After dinner, Dr. John Francis talked to us about the San Francisco Bay oil spill in the 1970s, and how it made him decide to stop riding in cars for one day. However, when Dr. John Francis decided that he could make a difference by not driving, or riding in cars. After this decision, people he ran into insisted to give him rides, and he would try to convince them of his ways — eventually, he decided to stop talking, so that he could be a better listener. In the end, he went 22 years without travelling in a car, and a total of 17 years without talking. In the meantime, got a bachelor’s, master’s and PhD at universities across the US, and he walked across the country. The biggest messages that we received from him were the importance of listening, and the strength of willpower. We also learned that your dreams don’t always make sense, but that you have to follow them anyway.

The next day Mathew Maran, a photographer, inspired us with his travels all over the world — taking photos, and trying to get his book published.

He emphasized the importance of capturing the spirit of animals in photographs. He then took us outside, and let us experiment with our cameras.
An outdoor photography session in Jasper National Park. Alice Weber/Parks Canada photo
Next, Jason Niles showed us community sustainability and the things we can do to help our community become more sustainable.

After lunch the group, split into 5 different stewardship activities. In small groups, we got to see elk up close, learn about Jasper’s elk-caribou-wolf

An elk viewed during a stewardship activity in Jasper National Park. Photo courtesy of Alice Weber/Parks Canada

relationships, and see elk deterring techniques. We also got to see prescribed burning in action, and see a juniper bush go up in smoke. One of us got to spend time with First Nations, do a smudge and sew a medicine pouch.

The last day Andrew Nisker revealed to us the unbelievable facts about the amount of harsh chemicals that people use on their bodies and in their houses every day. He showed us his films on garbage and on chemicals (Click here to go to the YouTube page featuring trailers and excerpts from his films, Garbage! The Revolution Starts at Home and Chemerical). In the end, our group decided to throw out 19 items from our toiletry kits because they were badly rated on

While on this trip we gained lots of valuable knowledge and now know our impact on the environment. We have a more developed awareness on how to make a difference in our communities.

The six of us were very fortunate in being able to go on this trip for free. In return for the trip, we have all offered to do stewardship activities to give back to our community. The activities we are doing are: some of us are sitting on a Steering Committee for the new Glacier Adventure Stewardship Program that will help get more youth involved with the environment and stewardship, some of us are making a video to share our experience and some of us are writing about it in this article.

We would also like to give a huge thanks to our supporters who made this trip possible: The Friends of Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks, Forest Workers Society, North Columbia Environment Society, Jody Lownds Law, Michael and Jackie Morris, Parks Canada, and RSS. I would also like to thank Alice Weber and Ms.Fawcett for giving us this amazing opportunity.

Melanie Davies is a Grade 9 student at Revelstoke Secondary School. This article was written for The Current as part of her stewardship activity.

essie Booker, Saara Tapanainen, RSS teacher Ms. Kristen Fawcett, Gordon Mason, Mikayla Faucett, Melanie Davies, Emma Flood, and Parks Canada's Alice Weber. Alice Weber/Parks Canada photo