On a bright sunny day, with the cicadas calling and the gentle waves washing ashore, 10 young New Brunswickers set out on the Restigouche River as Canadian Wilderness Stewards. Last August, the first cohort of volunteers with the Canadian Wilderness Stewardship Program (CWSP) explored this special place in our province – a beautiful watershed that CPAWS NB is currently working with government to see become a protected natural area. The volunteers engaged with local experts and guides over two days, and took part in a canoe expedition on the pristine waters of the Restigouche, all while learning about the conservation challenges and needs of the area.
Kurt Stewart and Lauren Verner shared their favourite things about the Restigouche trip with us, and we hope these will get you excited and ready to explore New Brunswick’s wilderness. This natural wonder of the province truly inspired them, and us, to rediscover what New Brunswick has to offer!
For Kurt, his time on the Restigouche was the perfect opportunity to relax and be in the moment, “I have wanted to visit the Restigouche for some time and this was by far the best way to experience it.” He enjoyed learning about the beautiful river and its history from André Arpin, ecotourism operator on the Restigouche and one of our program presenters. For Lauren, “experiencing the Restigouche River first-hand reminded me why conservation in New Brunswick is so important.”
CPAWS NB is excited to see the province working towards creating the Restigouche Wilderness Waterway Park, a sentiment shared by our volunteers. As Lauren says, establishing a waterway park ensures that “it will remain pristine, beautiful and breathtaking for generations to come.” Both Kurt and Lauren understand the importance of protecting the Restigouche wilderness for the many species that call the area home. “We have so many beautiful spaces in our province, like the Restigouche, that are not only valuable to us intrinsically, but are valuable habitats for wildlife” added Lauren.
Ecotourism is the industry we need to turn to in keeping business thriving in the Restigouche. For Kurt, hearing the ecotourism story of Arpin Canoe Restigouche was especially inspiring. “To understand how ecotourism is a viable career is great,” he noted, especially since he would like to own a similar business someday.
Getting outside and experiencing wilderness is an inspiring adventure, and getting out onto the Restigouche reminded Lauren about her passion for the outdoors and the natural areas of New Brunswick. “I think that passion will translate through into my community project” she said about her plan of creating educational material for schools. Beyond their experience on the Restigouche, each CWSP volunteer is supported by CPAWS in developing conservation and environmental action programs in their communities.
Paddling through the winding and crisp waters of the Restigouche, a group of passionate and eager stewards were called to action. We can’t wait to see where their passions and community projects take them, and to share their progress with you! This summer, we have plans to do it all again!
Are you or do you know someone who is between 18-30 and excited about conservation? Someone who can’t wait for their next adventure into nature? Someone ready to take action to protect New Brunswick’s wild places? We’re recruiting for the 2020-2021 cohort of stewards! You can learn more about the CWSP Program and how to apply here.
Photos by Justin Dutcher, Dutch Elms Studios
Claire Vézina’s lifelong sense of gratitude for nature is what first motivated her to work in the environmental movement. This appreciation for nature led her to complete a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of New Brunswick. At CPAWS-NB, Claire coordinates the ‘Watch Your Paws’ Education Program in both official languages, translates CPAWS NB’s communications to serve our bilingual supporters, and oversees social media engagement.