A lot has happened since my time as a CC-IUCN Youth Ambassador. This past year has been rich with adventure and loaded with transformation. In recent news, I just graduated from the University of Victoria in an alternative way … with 5 field courses!
In May, I headed down to Peru for a field school on Indigenous Economy, Ecology and Spirituality. Cacao fields replaced classrooms and conversations with community members replaced one-sided lectures. I saw the power of fair trade co-operatives firsthand and used my new found Spanish vocabulary to ask members about the future of sustainable agriculture. To discover more about the power of field schools check out this awesome video by my friend and fellow Uvic grad, Mike Graeme.
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In June, I caught a flight back to Canada and a ferry over to Galiano Island. On this little Southern Gulf Island, I joined the Redfish School of Change. This is a non-profit program designed for people who want to lead the way in creating ecological sustainability and social equity in their communities. As a participant in this intensive field school, I paddled, cycled and hiked through coastal communities in British Columbia and Washington State. Along the way, we connected with experts in environmental sustainability and social justice.
Living in a community of 15 students, 4 instructors and transient friends for a month was fascinating. Heads turned as 19 bike-riding, backpack-carrying, song-singing activists rolled through town. We found home in the beautiful Salish Sea. Have you ever felt intensely supported and deeply vulnerable at the same time? This was Redfish in a nutshell. Exploring the enormous “Who am I? What is my purpose? How am I privileged? What is true happiness?” questions with strangers that quickly became close friends. As a community, we rode a wave of emotions and landed on shore feeling stronger together. We discovered that there is always someone else who feels overwhelmed, inspired, disheartened and driven by change. You never know what someone else is going through, but in vulnerability there is strength and, in community there is belonging.
Next steps? Always. After 16 years in academia, I’m setting myself free. Off to travel the world. However, as an Environmental Studies and Biology grad, I can’t help but feel how tourism contributes to environmental and cultural exploitation. I have loved blogging for CC-IUCN, so to continue this critical communication I launched my own platform. My new blog, Tomorrow’s Traveller aims to create a collective vision for the future of sustainable tourism! Please join this conversation to explore the possibilities for responsible tourism together.