By Will Hollingshead

When I heard Parks Canada’s Youth Ambassadors were coming to Northern Ontario and would be visiting the Sault Ste. Marie Canal in August 2016, I was immediately ready to help them create meaningful connections to the site’s history and natural beauty, as well as share this experience with local community groups.

Keeping in line with the goals and objectives of the Youth Ambassador Program, I wanted to ensure there was a chance for the Youth Ambassadors to connect with community groups from Sault Ste. Marie.

Canoes in the lock
The 2016 Youth Ambassadors with youth participants from Sault Ste. Marie

Reaching out I connected with the Mayor's Youth Advisory Council, a group of young students who meet to voice the concerns of young people to City Council and the Mayor, as well as the Voyageur Trail Association, a non-profit, volunteer group dedicated to building and maintaining a public hiking trail along the northern shores of Lakes Superior and Huron from Thunder Bay to Sudbury, who sent four student volunteers and an organizer to join us. I also connected with the Sault College Outdoor Adventure Recreation and Parks Technician Program, a co-operative education program focused on natural resource management with a concentration in three major areas of study; parks, adventure recreation, and travel & ecotourism.

After a long and warm paddle through the Canal, we gathered in the Superintendent’s Residence for coffee and breakfast, creating the perfect atmosphere for some time to engage. Youth are a key audience for Parks Canada, and we aim to provide opportunities for Millennials to engage with people their own age at various Parks Canada sites to create awareness and increase visitation. Having the Youth Ambassadors come to Northern Ontario and the Sault Ste. Marie Canal was a great success and hopefully began conversations between Parks Canada’s Youth Ambassadors and local community groups. To learn more about Parks Canada’s Youth Ambassador or how to become one, follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

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