Photo: Nurturing tomorrow's environmental leaders

Camp Suzuki: Howe Sound gave 50 young participants an opportunity to learn about First Nations traditions and environmental stewardship.(Credit: Calder Cheverie)

Everyone loves summer camp. But what if it included fun activities and essential learning for tomorrow's environmental leaders? That's what happened for 50 young people, aged 17 to 35, from across British Columbia who attended Camp Suzuki: Howe Sound, held at Camp Fircom on Gambier Island this year. Participants from the Squamish Nation and local communities came together for a week to share experiences and learn about local ecosystems, traditional Squamish perspectives and the basics of community organizing and social change.

Camp Suzuki: Howe Sound gave participants the opportunity to grow and reflect while being welcomed into a community of like-minded, inspiring individuals. Squamish Nation leaders shared teachings about the traditional importance of Howe Sound stretching back thousands of years.

The experience's power to transform was captured by participants like Emily, who wrote: "It didn't matter if I had as much knowledge or experience as everyone else there, what I had was a desire to learn and a passion for the land I share with every other living creature, a land I simply borrow from future generations." Chris reflected on the importance of self-care in the world of activism: "What surprised me most about this camp was how focused it was on people, not the environment. I needed that, I needed to be reminded that I need to take care of myself before trying to take care of the world."

Following camp, participants become Howe Sound stewards through six-month volunteer placements with organizations working to protect the region. Camp Suzuki: Howe Sound was supported and run by the Foundation, the Squamish Nation and the United Church (Camp Fircom's owners).

Howe Sound is experiencing an astonishing marine rebirth as herring, salmon, porpoises and whales return after years of absence. We expect these young environmental leaders will play a big role in making sure the Sound's ecosystem remains healthy for generations to come.