On the second week of October, we had the incredible opportunity of attending the Canadian Parks Conference in Quebec City. The theme of the conference was ‘Parks for all and all for parks’. We are Master’s students at Vancouver Island University (VIU) studying Community Planning, with specializations in park planning. We are working on the “The View from 2117” project with the Canadian Mountain Network.
We attended a pre-conference workshop for the youth delegates, which helped us connect with other like-minded students, many of whom are also in the thesis writing process on topics relevant to parks and protected areas. One of the many highlights included a visit to Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier, where we mingled with park enthusiasts, hiked and paddled amidst the brilliant orange leaves. What’s a parks conference without a trip to a park anyway!?
At the conference, there was a diverse array of speakers and sessions, all of which were centered on collaboration, connecting to nature, conservation and leadership.
Keynote speakers included Florence Williams, who is an environmental journalist and the author of “Your Brain on Nature”; Alan Latourelle, the former CEO of Parks Canada, who discussed facing the challenges and opportunities for parks with leadership; as well as Sheila Watt-Cloutier, who spoke about environmental issues and challenges of Indigenous Peoples in the Arctic.
We were impressed at how many other participants were working on similar projects or working towards similar goals of connecting and educating children with nature. It was inspirational to see the creativity and dedication put into projects all over the country and the various barriers they have had to surpass.
We were able to learn about various partnerships that private, public, and non-profit organizations formed to create their projects. These partnerships are very important, and since witnessing the success they have led to, we have worked hard to integrate similar partnerships into our work and have seen promising results so far.
The impact of being surrounded by professionals that are all working towards common goals and who have found great success prioritizing natural environments cannot be underestimated. It has motivated us to work harder towards our current research and future goals.
This opportunity provided us with the platform to connect with like-minded individuals and to learn from experts in the field. We left the conference with a renewed sense of my passion of working in the parks and protected areas field and left feeling inspired to continue with our personal research and VIU’s project with the Canadian Mountain Network.
This conference was above and beyond any experience we expected to have while being students. It was difficult to know what to expect from such a large conference, but we were inspired to hear the many diverse park projects seeing success all over the country. We have had few opportunities to be surrounded by professionals that are just as passionate and enthusiastic about parks as we are and it is not an opportunity we will soon forget or take for granted.