It is a huge honour and privilege to be named a Finalist by the Canadian Museum of Nature – Musee canadien de la nature, for the prestigious Nature Inspiration award. To have myself and the ‘Come Walk With Us’ initiative be recognized on this level is beyond anything I could have imagined.
Starting in 2019 I quit my job as a GIS Analyst and Ornithological Researcher, donated my possessions, and sold my house to self fund a 24,000 km trek along the world’s longest recreational pathways across Canada on the Trans Canada Trail (www.comewalkwithus.online). The goal was to show youth the natural beauty of the country toward reconnecting Canadians with nature through hiking, birding, and Citizen Science involvement. So far we have hiked almost 9000 km across Newfoundland, Cape Breton and Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, entered into Quebec, crossed Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan!
While few others have made this trek in its entirety, none have done so for a cause and with the primary purpose of promoting diversity, accessibility and multiculturalism outdoors while striving to get youth engaged with and connected to nature.
To this end there is a daily blog complete with award
winning photographs for every day spent on the trail, thousands of Facebook
updates, and hundreds of Instragram posts – all of which are freely available
for anyone to enjoy, follow along and to experience Canada from the Atlantic to
the Pacific to the Arctic one day and one species at a time. In addition, we have – and continue to give
hundreds of free presentations to school classrooms, nature groups, hiking
clubs, guide troops, public libraries, travel organizations, in provincial
parks and been hosted at a number of Parks Canada Sites!
The focus is on connecting families and youth to nature through birding, promoting healthy active lifestyles, and inspiring a passion to become lifelong explorers, outdoor enthusiasts, and sustainable stewards of the nation’s resources – from their backyards to the boreal! Central to this expedition is reiterating that nature is for everyone, accessible to everyone, and that everyone can be an epic Canadian explorer, naturalist and contributing scientist!
To date we have been advised by the Canadian Explorer’s Club, collaborated with the Trans Canada Trail – being named a Pathfinder of the trail - and have partnered with groups such as Nature Newfoundland, the Island Nature Trust, Nature New Brunswick, Bird Protection Quebec / Protection des oiseaux du Quebec, and Parks Canada throughout the Maritimes as well as Ontario Nature, Nature Alberta and Can Geo Education. The efforts of this endeavour, have led me to become a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society as well as be supported as an official flag carrying RCGS Expedition in addition to being amazingly supported by Eh Canada Travel with whom I write articles on the amazing possibilities to be found in Canada from coast to coast to coast!
To everyone who has supported this trek, its goals of promoting diversity in the outdoors and youth engagement with nature I thank you from the bottom of my heart!