Haida Gwaii Learning Expedition 2004
Getting out and exploring Canada
Many university graduates leave school unsure of what the future holds. But 10 students
from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., chased their dreams this spring by travelling
through British Columbia’s Queen Charlotte Islands on the expedition of a lifetime.
With the help of a grant from The Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS), the group
of outdoorrecreation students spent three weeks collecting information for lectures aimed
at raising awareness of the environmental, social, cultural and historical issues facing
the Haida First Nation.
The RCGS looks for such outreach programs when deciding to fund expeditions. “What
they’re doing after the trip is what’s more important to us,” says Louise
Maffett, executive director of the RCGS. “Are they exploring a part of the country
we don’t know much about? And are they taking what they learn back to show the rest
of the country?” The RCGS began funding expeditions in 1996 and has since assisted
This year , the RCGS will help three more groups, including four women who are paddling
the Dubawnt River in Nunavut this summer and documenting the trip using film, art,
music and photography. Graeme and Lynda Magor are taking their two young daughters to Devon
Island, also in Nunavut, in July to see how children explore the Arctic. And Université de
Sherbrooke graduate Mathieu Chagnon and two others spent June sailing the Côte-Nord
region of the St. Lawrence River; a film of their travels will encourage youth to avoid
the pressure to settle down.
“We want to do something different than go to university, get a job, buy a house and
get a barbecue,” says Chagnon. “We want to show young adults that there are other
— Chris Mason