The 2021 Virtual Summit – a youth’s personal experience

Hi, I’m Shaye! I am 16 years old,and have lived in Calgary for 13 years. When I’m not mountain biking, I’m usually hiking, journaling, climbing or, a new addition, birdwatching.The Rocky mountains have always felt like home to me, I was raised in nature and always taught to respect it.  Because of this involvement, as well as my dad’s former employment with a green energy company, I’ve learned a lot about environmental preservation and the importance of youth involvement. I believe that the passions, ideas, and perspectives that I hold should not be dismissed just because I am a teenager. I know that I am privileged to have grown up so close to the beautiful and diverse Rocky Mountains, and with a family that supports exploration and adventure. Not everyone has this opportunity, which is why I do my best to bring the beauty of our environment to others. This is also why I believe that conservation of the wild is so incredibly important. I truly wish to be able to share these same experiences with generations to come. This last year I started looking for more opportunities to involve myself in education and activism, which is how I found the Canadian Rockies Youth Network!

When I signed up for the CRYN summit, I was highly excited to learn, share my ideas, and make new connections with like-minded people. I walked away from the summit with countless new advantageous connections, information and perspectives that set me up for years of success as an advocate for our outdoor spaces. The network provided opportunities for discussion and youth involvement with various panels such as the Grizzly Bear & Human Coexistence panel, one of my favourites, and taught us more about how to actively engage with nature, by measuring the amount of CO2 our trees can store, and sending us to engage creatively with our watersheds. An aspect of the summit that I found very insightful and important was all the engagement and involvement of Indigenous perspectives, guidance and knowledge. One of the sessions that most resonated with me was the National Parks, Law and Indigenous People one, because it opened my eyes to points of view that I would not have considered originally. 

After logging off of Zoom the second day of CRYS, I immediately emailed a teacher at my school, St Mary’s High School, about taking initiative with leading the of the school’s Green Club. The countless stories that I heard from other schools involved in the summit, particularly Central Memorial High School, inspired me to start new action projects with my school, such as implementing a no-idling zone, and a carpool program. With this, the network offered many resources for moving forward, and everyone who I met was welcoming and encouraging, even involving me in meetings after the summit. 

I am so proud and grateful to have been a part of the 2021 Youth Summit, and for that to have been my introduction to the network. As a future environmental engineer (hopefully!), I am incredibly excited to see where this all leads me, and how I will be better equipped to protect our Earth. I encourage everyone who is interested in activism, the outdoors, and fellowship with difference-makers to get involved!

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