The Lillooet area will be well-represented as young leaders begin the 25-day Sustainable Living Leadership Program’s Fraser River journey.
The expedition begins tomorrow, Aug. 2 near Mount Robson.
Phillip Douglass and John Redan, both from Lillooet, and Gold Bridge Elementary school teacher Jacquie Lanthier are three of the seven people selected to participate in this year’s trip of a lifetime down the Fraser.
They will be traveling by foot, raft and canoe from the river’s headwaters in the Rocky Mountains to where the Fraser meets the Pacific Ocean 1,400 kilometres away. The program is run by the not-for-profit Rivershed Society of BC, with the goal of fostering sustainable living and responsible community and resource development.
All three are excited about embarking on their journey and all three bring outdoor experience to their new adventure.
John Redan spent four years in Cadets, learning about outdoor skills and orienteering, and Phillip Douglas participated in a multi-day canoe trip. Ten years ago, Jacquie Lanthier spent three weeks in the wilderness near Pemberton as part of an Outward Bound program. During those weeks, she picked up skills in mountaineering and outdoor first aid.
They told the News they have varied expectations of the journey.
“It’s called a sustainable leadership program, so I expect it will boost our self-confidence and teach us things like public speaking and how to play a bigger role,” said Douglass.
“You took the words right of out my mouth!” said Redan of Douglass’ comments.
Lanthier hopes there will be time for quiet reflection as they make their way down the river. She intends to keep a journal and also intends to use what she learns in her teaching plans for next year. “It’s a great opportunity to learn about the watershed eco-system itself, and we’ll be raising salmon in the classroom next year, so I expect this will help me with planning for the school year.”
In the river’s upper reaches, participants learn about the relationship between forests, riversheds and the logging industry with a hike on the Goat River trail. They also visit an ancient cedar forest grove east of Prince George and tour a pulp mill in Quesnel.
In the Fraser Canyon, they learn about the importance of the Fraser for fishing and water in the dry interior plateau. Participants stay at a traditional First Nations village, visit sites that have been used as summer camps by First Nations for centuries, witness salmon dip-netting techniques, and see a demonstration by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
Through the Fraser’s lower stretches, they tour Glen Valley Organic Farm and learn about sustainable agriculture in a region that boasts some of the best soil in the country. They also get to see firsthand the impacts of urban development on the river.
The expedition is slated to arrive in Lillooet Aug. 18.
The program’s founder, Fin Donnelly, has swum the Fraser River twice to raise awareness about river ecosystems, and what can be done to protect them.
“There’s no better way to learn about sustainability than to be out there in the environment, on the river, going from community to community and witnessing the issues,” says Donnelly, who also serves as MP for New Westminster, Coquitlam and Port Moody.