At 5 a.m. on July 20, North Delta resident Myka Kollmann will arrive at Mount Robson in B.C.’s Rocky Mountains, journal in hand and the Fraser River on her mind.
Kollmann is one of seven people taking part in the Sustainable Living Leadership Program, a 25-day canoe trip down the Fraser River designed to connect the participants to the river and local communities.
“I’m hoping to learn more about what the river has done for all of us who depend on it and live around it,” she said.“I don’t know that much about it; I’m really interested in learning more.
“I’m also very interested in having a break from everything else for so long,” she added. “You’re basically just in the wilderness and you’re just there. You get more time to appreciate it and to interact with it.”
From the headwaters at Mount Robson, 20-year-old Kollmann will be travelling down the river to Vancouver from July 20 to August 14. Camping on the edge of the river at night, canoeing during the day, Kollmann is excited for the immersive natural experience.
But although that’s a big portion of the program, it’s not the only thing participants will be doing. The trip will also feature team building exercises and brainstorming sessions to help the participants develop their own programs to inspire others to learn about the river.
Linking with a local organization that deals with the river ecosystem was a perquisite for applying to the Sustainable Living Leadership Program, and Kollmann’s choice was easy: the Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society.
“I really fell in love with them, because I think they’re really amazing fish,” she said.
Kollmann went sturgeon tagging in February of this year, and that inspired her to get more involved in the organization’s education and outreach programs.
“For me, I didn’t know a lot about them prior going into this,” she said. “And I know there’s a lot of people who don’t know about them. So I thought it would be important to learn because they’re such a keystone to the river.”
Throughout the program, Kollmann will be discussing her plan for sturgeon education with fellow canoers. When she gets back to the Lower Mainland, she will reconnect with the conservation society.
“My goal, I guess, is to inspire other people to have an interest in the environment that they live in,” she said about her involvement with the conservation society and the leadership program.
“Environmental issues … surrounding the Fraser River is not something that everyone knows. I didn’t even know for a while. But there’s a lot of information out there, and it’s very easy to access it and learn it. And I think it’s very important to know about it considering where we live and how much the river, and the life that it sustains, does for us.”