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2023 Saskatchewan Youth Summit for Conservation and Environmental Leadership

Project Details

Project dates
Waskesiu Lake, SK

Graeme Hopkins

Project Lead

The 2023 Saskatchewan Youth Summit for Environmental Leadership took place from October 13th - 15th, 2023 at Waskesiu Lake, Prince Albert National Park and brought together 7 aspiring young environmental leaders living in Saskatchewan. Across the 3 days of the summit, delegates ages 13 - 18 learned about some of the primary environmental issues facing nature worldwide, heard the stories of other young leaders across Canada who have led their own environmental organizations or local projects, and experienced northern Saskatchewan’s boreal forest ecosystem first-hand through hiking, canoeing, and wildlife watching. Delegates left the summit with memories, knowledge, and a new network of friends.

Project Description

The 2023 Saskatchewan Youth Summit for Conservation and Environmental Leadership was an application-based summit open to youth living in the province of Saskatchewan ages 13 – 20. All selected participants were between the ages of 13 and 18. This event took place at Waskesiu Lake, Prince Albert National Park from October 13th – 15th. Participants came from communities across the cities of Saskatoon and Regina to attend the summit. After myself and the 7 participants arrived at Waskesiu, the summit began with team-building activities to encourage community and friendship. I then led an instructional activity on water quality testing with a Water Rangers kit donated by WILD Outside on the shore of Waskesiu Lake. While there, a herd of elk passed through and closely approached our group. A keynote presentation on youth empowerment and inclusion by Ishita Mann, a prominent volunteer in Saskatoon, followed. All presentations were done virtually, with participants watching on personal devices from the cabins. On Saturday, presentations included one on microplastics by Maria Chzhen – founder of the organization Earth Menders and one by Amanada MacCarthy of Ocean Wise on the various facets of environmental management and common environmental issues. Participants also hiked through Fisher Trail and canoed on Waskesiu Lake. During the canoeing activity, one participant remarked “I don’t think I have ever felt more included at an event before.” Activities on Sunday included seed bomb-making, a presentation by Frankie Marquez on project ideation and funding, a presentation on shoreline cleanups by Molly Foster – co-founder of the youth organization The Ripple Project, and a youth leadership panel featuring Ishita, Frankie, Molly, and Maria. During this panel, participants asked panelists for various advice concerning how to achieve success in environmental advocacy and project-leadership. The focus of the summit was on experiential and peer-to-peer learning.


This project has been created in commemoration of the lives of all the victims of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, including two Ocean Bridge ambassadors, Danielle Moore and Micah Messent. We aspire to carry on their legacy and commitment to making the world a better place by creating long-lasting impacts with a firm commitment to driving positive change for the environment and our ocean. We will never forget the light that Danielle and Micah brought to the world and will continue to keep them in our hearts. To learn more about these two amazing people, please visit: Honouring Danielle and Micah  – Ocean Wise. This work is partially funded by the Commemoration Fund for Victims of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 Tragedy.

What was your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge was overcoming my fear and hesitation. I originally planned to host this event with a co-facilitator. This was the plan up until the week before the summit, as I recruited someone early in the project development process. Shortly before the summit, however, this person dropped out, leaving me to host the event alone. I was terrified, as I did not think I was strong, mature, or capable enough to do this alone. However, it was too late to back out, and I had to face the challenge. I proved to be completely capable of leading the summit and caring for the participants on my own. This experience empowered me to move through life with new confidence, while also teaching me a valuable lesson on teamwork. I realized that I selected my co-facilitator on the basis that they were my friend, not that they were necessarily qualified or capable.

What was your most valuable takeaway?

My most valuable take away from my project is my newfound confidence. While budgeting and finer leadership skills are valuable, I find that my most cherished takeaway is my new mentality and empowerment. I now feel confident to lead events and projects across the world (including one recent one in Alberta). Leading this summit and hearing the feedback from the participants completely transformed the way I see myself. I now see myself as a role-model, a leader, and someone who has achieved success. I notice that I carry myself differently now, and I finally respect myself as much as I respect others. This is a gift I will carry with me forever.

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