Kids of Kvai

Our time at Kvai (Koeye) is coming to an end far too quickly. This morning we had another fun day of learning and games. First, we learned about provisioning theory: some of the kids (including me) pretended to be chicks in nests of different sizes, begging their parents (other kids) for food (goldfish crackers).

Playing "The Nose Knows"

Nests with too many chicks had low survival rates, as individual chicks didn’t receive sufficient crackers to survive, whereas parents risked losing all their chicks if their clutch size was too small and some died from eating environmentally-poisoned food (gummy bears). In the second game we learned to ‘see’ the world as many predators do, using our sense of smell as our primary modality. Kids began by smelling each other. They were then blindfolded and tried to identify their friends by scent alone. As per usual, the kids were a bundle of insights, laughs, jokes, and the occasional flatulence.

Playing the brood provisioning game at Kvai

After the games I took a relaxed walk back to the main lodge,  giving me some time to collect my thoughts and appreciate how fortunate I’ve been to spend the past week as part of the experience of Kvai. In particular, I realized how lucky I’ve been to spend time with such great kids!

These kids provide so much fodder for hope! As an ecologist, it’s easy to become jaded and cynical when confronted with knowledge of ecological degradation and the unwillingness of many people to take such degradation seriously. It’s easy to think that we, as a species, have lost our way. However, the kids of Kvai provide the perfect antidote to such a poisonous and counterproductive stance. These kids are at a stage in their lives where they are in fact finding their way; they’re finding out who they are as people, and learning about their place in the world. They have an uncanny ability to quickly understand the complex ecological processes of the temperate rainforest they call home. They have honesty and directness adults should strive to maintain. Most importantly they fully understand the importance of their role in carrying into the future the Heiltsuk culture and traditions that have played such a crucial role in this area for thousands upon thousands of years. They also understand that the survival of their people depends on the survival of the land and all the plants and animals that form the underpinnings of their cultural legacy.

Kvai camp has been a great learning experience and a great inspiration for the Raincoast crew (Doug, Heather, Bryce and Me). At a time when much of humanity seems to have lost its way, seeing a snapshot of young people respectfully learning their place in the world provides me with great hope for humanity as a whole. Perhaps we’ll all find our way yet!

For more information about the QQS programs here at Kvai, please visit

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Chris Genovali, executive director of Raincoast Conservation Foundation.
Chris Genovali, Executive Director

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