Fraser River adventure inspires B.C.’s up and coming leaders

The Rivershed Society of B.C. is seeking participants for its three-week Sustainable Living Leadership Program taking place in August.

The Rivershed Society of B.C. is seeking participants for its three-week Sustainable Living Leadership Program taking place Aug. 2 to 26 this summer.

Now in its ninth year, the leadership field course is designed to inform and inspire young community leaders from across the province, says Richelle Giberson, program spokesperson.

Participants will journey by foot, van, canoe and raft from the Fraser River’s headwaters near Valemount to where it meets the Pacific Ocean, 1,400 kilometers away.

Anyone with an interest in sustainability or community development is encouraged to apply for this year’s program. Participants must be 19 years of age or older and physically fit. Community volunteer experience is an asset.

The application deadline is May 18. For more information or to apply visit

Giberson says the Rivershed Society believes that real environmental change starts in communities which is why the Sustainable Living Leadership Program (SLLP) was created.

The program educates through hands-on experience, and opens the door to a network of community leaders in the Fraser River watershed.

It also gives participants the time to develop and plan projects they can implement in their own communities.

Research shows that programs like this are important catalysts for environmental and community development.

Sharman Learie, coordinator of the Adventure Studies program at Thompson Rivers University, researched the SLLP as part of his masters thesis and found that the program is “indeed creating environmental leaders.”

“The journey itself gives participants ample reflective time to devise a plan of transferring thought into action once they are off the river…” Learie says. “All of the participants mentioned regular interactions with facilitators and each other in their efforts to carry out new or renewed environmental activity.”

Lakecity naturalist and historical interpreter Mary Forbes is an SLLP 2010 alumni and now director of the Potato House Sustainable Community Society in Williams Lake.

She started the society just two months after returning from the river adventure.

With community support the society was able to purchase and begin restoring the heritage Potato House which now serves as a public space for all kinds of sustainability and heritage initiatives and partnerships.

Forbes said she was inspired by the experience on the river itself, and by the trip leaders and facilitators.

“I came away with a small project that I really wanted to go huge with — and I successfully did that.”


On Feb. 22, Forbes was given a Community Spirit Award by Williams Lake mayor and council in recognition of her hard work.



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