Lasting memories

Sailboat, Key West (Photo by Eric Salard/Wikimedia Commons)

Sailboat, Key West (Photo by Eric Salard/Wikimedia Commons)

July 1, 2015 | by Kyle Meller

I’m not sure why Celine Daoust’s journey across Canada resonated with me so deeply, but I can’t shake her story. I love the water, and being in Calgary for my entire life has cut down on the time I could spend on it. To be honest I have only ever been kayaking once in my life, and it was probably one of my most treasured memories.

In grade nine a select few classmates and I went on a sailing trip around the coastal islands of British Columbia. Those seven days on the water gave me an appreciation for nature that I continue to hold to this day. Waking up everyday to Great Big Sea's "End of the World," polishing brass and going for ecologically educating walks, it was pure euphoria. I saw my first wild seal, experienced my first tuna melt and most importantly developed lasting friendships.

One day, a kayaking experience was planned for all those brave enough to face the water. We were extremely safe and sheltered from the ocean, but I was terrified of being in the open water in a little kayak. Our teacher had told us of the whales in the area that had come alongside these boats, mostly out of curiosity.

Could you imagine? Whales swimming beside my tiny little boat. How preposterous.

I mustered up the courage, though, and am I ever glad I did. We were in an alcove that was frequented by harbour seals, and wouldn’t you know it one came up to see us. It played around the 14 or so of us in our tiny little kayaks. Nudging the boat here and there, and surfacing beside us.

That night over hot chocolate, every one of the students had a different version of the encounter. Some verged on the ridiculous and some downplayed, but what was true for each was the excitement on our faces. Nature really is awe-inspiring, and the more we can conserve the more chances everyone has to experience what we did.

What does this have to do with Mrs. Daoust? It got me thinking about what I could do for nature, to give back one day. I can’t say I have any concrete plans, nor could I imagine the undertaking of the Canadian Voyageurs. I would like to give back though. Traveling 5,000 kilometres of Canada’s waterways is something that truly shows how versatile our country really is.

This Canada Day, I urge everyone to think about what you want the planet to look like in 50 years. Nature really is awe-inspiring, and the more we can conserve, the more chances others will have to experience the connections like I did on that sailing trip. There is no shortage of beauty in our country, and I’m thankful to have had (and continue to have) the opportunity to enjoy it.

Kyle Meller, summer assistant 2015 (Photo by Kyle Meller)

About the Author

Kyle Meller is a former summer assistant with the Nature Conservancy of Canada Alberta region.

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