Reflections on a Journey into Wapusk National Park
Wapusk News - Volume 5, Number 1, 2012
Leadership Camp staff, assistants and students at Nester One research camp, 2009. Front Row (l to r): Amanda Spence, Samantha Grosbrink, Nicole Rabiscah-Hill. Back Row (l to r): Melissa Gibbons, Darcy Wastesicoot, Justin Saunders, Paul Preteau, Stanley Spence, Ian Martens, Brendan McEwan © Parks Canada
From July 8th-14th, 2009, Wapusk National Park (NP) launched the first annual "Leaders for our Planet" high school student leadership camp. This inaugural event brought students from Churchill into the park to experience what it means to be an ambassador for the environment. The program emphasised leadership skills and “on the land” science and traditional knowledge.
Putting on the camp required teamwork, and one of the people who assisted greatly was Darcy Wastesicoot, a member of the Wapusk Management Board representing York Factory First Nation. Darcy still looks back on this week as a memorable experience in Wapusk NP:
“It was a summer of firsts for me, even though the trip wasn’t intended for me. I hope the five students found it an educational and humbling experience, from the tours and the hikes to the helicopter ride. We met personnel of all occupations and professions. Most were in the fields of environmental studies and research and eco-tourism, and of course Parks Canada staff operating in the Park.
So, when we arrived for the five day stay, some of the topics that were covered were identifying plants and insects, Cree culture and history of the Park and safety issues. Parks Canada ensured that all participants were safe for the hiking, and other activities. The students participated in all activities and enjoyed the Youth Leadership Camp as much as I did and I would like to extend gratitude to all the people that made the visit to the park safe and comfortable. Ekosi! Thank you!”
– Darcy Wastesicoot
Throughout the week of camp, the high school students interviewed each other on video, asking the question – “What does being a leader for Wapusk NP mean to you?”
Here is a look back at what they answered:
“To be a leader for this place means a lot to me. It gives me the chance to teach things to people, such as how to measure the permafrost, and how long a beluga whale can hold its breath ... I hope this stuff will actually teach the people who are here something. I hope people remember the experience of being here.”
– Justin Saunders
“What being a leader for Wapusk National Park means to me is to preserve and protect the environment long enough for future generations to enjoy and get a good view of the history and how it was like and to get into nature.”
– Paul Preteau
“To be a leader, anywhere, you to need to show, to lead, to spread the word and to make a difference. Especially here, you want to keep it the same to let others experience what we experienced."
– Amanda Spence
“Being a leader is a very important job… Being a leader for Wapusk is especially important ... Make sure people don’t take artefacts, and show them the safe way to go, look out for animals and show them things; it’s very important. It also means that I’m doing my part to keep people involved in these parks so that Parks Canada is also preserved.”
– Samantha Grosbrink
“To me it means to preserve and protect the animals, the surroundings, and traditional ways. To let people experience the things that we experienced throughout the week.”
– Nicole Rabiscah-Hill