Emerging stewards in the Salish Sea

Through hands-on learning, participants link learning concepts directly to the places and experiences of the program as they immerse in local forests, beaches, and oceans to understand their local environment and its conservation challenges.

Since 2016, our Salish Sea Emerging Stewards (SSES) program has been empowering young conservation leaders by connecting youth to place through immersive land and boat-based learning. The idea of “Two-Eyed Seeing” or the blending of different knowledge systems and ways of being, is central to the program. 

Raincoast’s SSES program produced the second season of an interactive online educational series known as Coastal Insights. Hosted by Peter Underwood of the Tsawout First Nation and Maureen Vo, Education Program Coordinator, the program focused on developing the concept of Two-Eyed Seeing; balancing Indigenous knowledge and contemporary science. The program was livestreamed into classrooms surrounding the Salish Sea, but it also had online viewership from around the world. 

In July, Raincoast partnered with the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council to take part in the ṮEṮÁĆES (Islands) Revitalization Project. The project supports the creation of educational materials that capture the rich history of W̱SÁNEĆ Traditional Knowledge, their cultural revitalization and the protection of their homeland – ÁLEṈENEȻ. Achiever supported five W̱SÁNEĆ Elders, 91 youth, and seven teachers and knowledge holders as they traveled to culturally significant locations in the Gulf Islands to participate in restoration, ceremonies, and archaeological activities.

The SX̱OLE Youth Reef Net initiative, also in partnership with the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council, seeks to empower and educate youth leaders and restore the use of traditional reef net fishing practices. The reef net team, led by Landon Underwood, joined the crew on board Achiever to visit culturally unique parts of W̱SÁNEĆ territory, including SISȻENEM (Halibut Island), ȽEL¸TOS (James Island), and S,DÁYES (Pender Island).

2021 was the second year of the Tsawwassen Youth Stewardship Summer Work program. This eight week program supported 25 youth in developing new skill sets, and a broader understanding of the ecological importance of their home territory. In 2022, we look forward to more programming with our partners including the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership School, the Quw’utsun (Cowichan) School district, and the Tsawwassen Youth Centre.

You can help

Raincoast’s in-house scientists, collaborating graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and professors make us unique among conservation groups. We work with First Nations, academic institutions, government, and other NGOs to build support and inform decisions that protect aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and the wildlife that depend on them. We conduct ethically applied, process-oriented, and hypothesis-driven research that has immediate and relevant utility for conservation deliberations and the collective body of scientific knowledge.

We investigate to understand coastal species and processes. We inform by bringing science to decision-makers and communities. We inspire action to protect wildlife and wildlife habitats.

Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.