2021 Canadian Rockies Youth Summit

The Cause

We are looking to host the 2nd annual Canadian Rockies Youth Summit. Last November, our group of students organized an event that brought over 40 students together in Jasper National Park to discuss conservation issues in the Rocky Mountains of Canada. We listened to many expert speakers on policy, wildlife management, climate change, and advocacy, explored the wonders of the Canadian Rockies through outdoor activities, and wrote a summative paper explaining our position as a collective youth voice in conservation. (Canadian Rockies Youth Report 2019). This event, in many ways, inspired students to start taking environmental action in their local communities.

Our first event laid the groundwork of a collective youth voice in Western Canada conservation advocacy. From here, we want to build upon our successes by hosting a second, more focused summit. We plan to host the event in Nordegg, in April 2021 (assuming the coronavirus does not prohibit our meeting). The event will focus around recent changes to Alberta’s regional park system, and building a concrete response to the heavily criticized decisions. Nordegg is a significant place for this reason, as the proposed Bighorn Wildland Provincial Park was recently declined by the Alberta government.

This year, we want to grow the event and host 20 more students, to a total of 60. We are also going to expand the duration of the event by one night (To a total of 3). We found that the last event was very rushed in terms of timing. Having an extra day will allow students to spend more time connecting with each other and also the outdoors, while also being able to learn and advocate for Canadian conservation efforts.

Who Will it Benefit?

The Canadian Rockies Youth Summit has an extended outreach to multiple communities in Alberta, and next year will aim to include students from British Columbia. The summit provides a unique opportunity for students to discuss and exchange ideas relating to conservation and their community environments. Students will take home ideas to better their own localities, through means of youth-led initiatives.

Throughout the 3 day summit, youth will take part in expert-facilitated lectures, relating to fields such as tourism, development, wildlife, parks management policy, and much more. Input will be given from a variety of perspectives, and will further pave the way for innovative and concrete environmental change on the local and provincial scale.

Our 2019 Youth Summit brought the creation of the first Canadian Rockies Youth Summit Report, which outlined our youth’s goals for the future of parks management. The thoughtful discussions put forward during the summit, as well as the ideas that ended up in the report demonstrated that youth are passionate about the mountain parks, and are eager to take part in consultation whenever a decision is to be made.

In addition, this summit provides the opportunity for youth to engage on a deep level with the natural spaces in their province. This will be achieved through means of activities, educational lectures, and project building. The summit provides an incredible opportunity for youth to learn in the best environment- one of immersion. Students will return to their home communities with a better understanding of the land around them, and a stronger desire to protect what they understand and care for.

Finally, we will once again strive to include as many youth voices as possible in our event. This means targeting specific at-risk youth groups, most notably, Indigenous youth. We hope to have at least 20% or favourably 25% of our youth attendees identify as Indigenous.