Youth Stewardship Program - July 2017
By Caitlin Peerless
When I first heard about the Haida Gwaii Youth Stewardship Program, I knew it would be the experience of a lifetime. Since starting work last week, I’ve done amazing activities that I would never have thought I’d get a chance to do. I’ve worked for local businesses, pulled invasive plants, completed archaeology digs, and even worked in a small kelp processing factory. This job has been a truly eye opening opportunity for me, and has provided me with so much knowledge about the island that I live on and the things that thrive here.
Recently, our group worked with a local farmer to help protect the goshawk population. Goshawks are an endangered species on Haida Gwaii, and they have been known to attack and kill chickens. This year four Goshawks have been killed attempting to get into chicken coops. In order to protect both the goshawks and the chickens, we spent a day fortifying coops.
At Riverworks Farm in Tlell we built a covered area for the hens out of cedar poles and wire netting. This was one of my favourite days on the job yet. The whole group was filled with good energy and we worked hard to build the best coop we could. We hammered in nails and staples, dug three foot deep holes for the supporting poles, and built rafters for the roof. Even though there were bugs everywhere and it was raining on and off, it was still a lot of fun.
A few days ago we got to work with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, which was amazing. I’d never been in a salmon hatchery before, and to say it was awesome would be an understatement. I’ve never seen that many baby fish in my life. That day, we released 25,000 sock eye salmon fry into the Honna River. I learned so much about hatcheries and fish, and it was an interesting experience I’d love to repeat. Seeing that many fish in such a small hatchery was astounding. I can’t even imagine how many fish a larger hatchery would foster.
Last week, I worked at a small business that processes kelp into many different products, including lasagna noodles and healthy snacks. In the morning, we cut the kelp into strips and placed it into a gigantic dehydration room, where it would then dry for almost a full day. In the afternoon, we helped package dried kelp, learned about the different products the business produces, and learned the different species of kelp they gather. My absolute favourite part was the packaging. We put labels on bags and little tins, then added the right product with the right weight, and then sealed the packages with special machines. Walking through the process from harvesting it to selling it was fascinating. I’m so happy to have had that experience.
Working at this job really makes me feel like I’m helping people, and it gives me such a great opportunity to do something real with my summer. It helps to protect our island, and to preserve the natural ecosystem here. This program is one of the best things I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a part of, and I’m truly grateful to all of the lovely people I’ve worked with. To all of the people out there who’ve helped to create the Stewardship Program into what is it today, thank you very much!