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Ali Paul

NameAli Paul 

Location (Traditional Territory and City/Town):  I live on the traditional territory of the Algonquin First Nations in Almonte, Ontario (near Ottawa). 

What gets me up in the morning:
 Yoga, tea, and good breakfast. 

A bit about me: 
I love to ski, mountain bike, practice yoga, and hike. I was lucky enough to live right beside the Bay of Fundy for four years during my undergrad at Acadia University. My most influential memory of the ocean was visiting the Great Barrier Reef. Only a very small section of the reef that we saw was still alive, it was very startling. An ocean-related issue close to my heart is overfishing. 

Tell us something random about yourself (or use one of the following suggestions)
: My favourite marine animal is the sea turtle. 

Pascale Sylvester    
Alyana Lalani

NameHi! I'm Alyana Lalani!

I live on the traditional, unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations Peoples in Burnaby (Metro Vancouver), British Columbia.

What gets me up in the morning: 
I am not a morning person and every day is a struggle to get out of my warm, comfy bed. I am much more enthusiastic about getting out of bed when I'm going hiking, swimming, or doing any other outdoors activity.

A bit about me: 
I'm excited to be part of Ocean Bridge because of the opportunity to learn about what I can do to protect and conserve marine ecosystems.  Shoreline cleanups are a great way to help the environment but I want to go a little further than that. An ocean-related issue close to my heart are salmon.  Salmon are incredibly important to BC, especially to the ecosystem and First Nations culture. The population of Pacific Salmon are rapidly declining which has and will continue to have devastating impacts on our environment. I first studied the life cycle of the salmon when I was in Grade 2 , when my class raised and released 70 Chum Salmon in Deer Lake Creek. I loved it so much that I've participated in annual salmon releases for the past eight years.   

Favourite marine animal: 
I LOVE cetaceans but two marine animals close to my heart are sharks and salmon (if you couldn't tell).   

Pascale Sylvester    
Ben McTaggart

Name: Ben McTaggart

Location: I currently call Nanaimo, BC my home. These are the traditional unceded lands of the Snuneymuxw First Nation. I would also like to mention that I lived on the Tsuu T'ina First Nation owned lands of Redwood Meadows, Alberta. Both are a spiritually vibrant and inspiring people to have worked with and learned from. 

What gets me up in the morning: 
Any one thing is hard to identify... but if I have a long distance walk planned in the general direction of the Salish Sea with a good playlist of music or podcast, there is usually a spring in my step!

A bit about me: I am an individual who likes to help and be of service. Whether it is in the fields of archaeology, community organizing, disability support, tour guide or sales, connecting with people and finding common ground is my passion. I have had a love of the sea born from an extended naval family, lulled to sleep as a toddler by being driven along the Georgia Strait, being obsessed with the RMS Titanic from the age of 7 and, more recently, studying maritime archaeology and the intersection of environment and nation-wide government policy meet. Diving for the first time in the Salish Sea, the need to reach people and deepen, enrich and connect the conversation on ocean health has increasingly been of interest to me. I look forward to working with everyone to develop ways to reach as many people as possible this year!

My favourite marine mammal is
: The first time I saw a jelly fish lightly flowing along among the red kelp of the various diving spots around Nanaimo, I was mesmerized by the colours, electricity, beauty and simplicity of these amazing creatures. The being said, I wouldn’t mind seeing a whale up close or a Bigfin squid – that one that looks like the aliens from Independence Day. The sea is so mysterious :) 

Me excavating at a site yeilding 3000BP pottery and stone microtools from a maritime culture on Dong Choi Island, Vietnam. April 2019. This test pit however yeilded "amazing" contemporary finds of tire tracks and burnt material. Part of the fun of archaeology ;)
Pascale Sylvester    
Caitlin Laidlaw

(I highly recommend Tostitos as a hiking snack) 

NameCaitlin Laidlaw

Location (Traditional Territory and City/Town): 
I am from Mississauga Ontario. For thousands of years, Indigenous peoples inhabited and cared for this land. In particular, this land is home to the Anishinabek, Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Ojibway/Chippewa peoples; the land that is home to the Metis; and most recently, the territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation who are direct descendants of the Mississaugas of the Credit.  

What gets me up in the morning: As a masters student I should probably say my thesis? Despite my love of the ocean, my thesis is focusing on a land animal: the snow leopard! I will be investigating human-wildlife conflict between the snow leopard and pastoral communities in the Nepal Himalayas. I think a lot of conservation challenges, whether on land or ocean, fall at the interface of social and natural sciences! 

A bit about me: An ocean-related issue close to my heart are the Southern Resident Orca's! I spent five years on the West coast studying at UBC, and spent a summer as a whale watching naturalist The southern residents are on decline, facing many challenges from decreased salmon populations to bio accumulation of toxins, and there are only 72 left :(
I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge because I have moved back to Ontario for my masters  program, and find myself missing the Ocean. I want to learn how I can stay connected to the Ocean and learn more about the Great Lakes that I grew up beside.

Tell us something random about yourself: A person I admire is David Attenborough! I am obsessed with all of his documentaries, and spent my childhood in my basement watching his shows. His documentaries have sparked many of my adventures of my Ocean adventures around the world!

Pascale Sylvester    
Charlotte Rentmeister

Name: Charlotte Rentmeister

Location: I was born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, on the traditional land of the Kwanlin Dün First Nations. Kwanlin Dün were the 10th Yukon First Nation to sign a self-governance and land settlement treat. Of the 14 First Nations in Yukon, 11 are self-governed.

What gets me up in the morning: Initially, I won’t lie, what gets me up in the morning is the comforting thought that I get to come back to bed in the evening! I would love to be a morning person and embrace the early hours of the day, but admittedly, I’m not quite there yet. 

Once I’ve actually made the move to crawl out of bed though, fresh smoothies, good coffee, my favourite playlist, the promise of a new day full of adventure and my favourite people in the world have me smiling ear to ear. My brothers dog Marshall is currently a big game changer too, he is the light of my life. 

A bit about me:  After graduating high school I felt the need to get as far away from my small town as possible, to become more independent and gain a new sense of freedom. I packed my bags and moved to Ottawa to study. I graduated from the University of Ottawa in 2018 with a BSc with Honours in Environmental Sciences. I have since realized that my home town is my favourite place in the world, and have returned to live and work with a local environmental consulting company. I am currently looking into starting a masters soon (stay tuned).

In my third year of university I did a semester abroad in New Zealand, leaving Canada two months before classes started to do a solo trip through Australia and New Zealand. Thanks to this trip a came down with a huge case of the travel bug. After graduating from university, my best friend and I did a three month trip across South America and I am currently on my latest adventure through Bali and the Philippines for two months with my boyfriend. 

My earliest most influential memory of the ocean: In grade 11 my experiential science class did a one month road trip around Vancouver Island, where we learnt to surf, sail and scuba dive. This experience changed my life. I felt so fortunate to experience this entirely new underwater world, so few ever get the chance to witness. Since then I have been diving on the Great Barrier Reef, in the Galapagos, and most recently around Bali and the Philippines. 

An ocean related issue close to my heart: I’m not sure if it is possible for me to chose one issue closest to my heart. I have witnessed first hand the effects of tourism on our oceans, of ocean temperatures rising and ocean acidification, of pollution suffocating our planet and all of these issues are close to my heart and feel as equally as important. 

My favourite marine animal: Can you have a favourite when they’re all so awesome?? If I had to choose (3?) whales (broad I know but I only gave myself 3!!), sharks and nudibranchs.

Pascale Sylvester    
Chelsea Power

Name: Chelsea Power

 I live in Victoria, B.C., the capital city of what is now called British Columbia. This is the home and territory of the Lekwungen, Songhees, Esquimalt and WSÁNEĆ peoples. Their historically situated reciprocal relationships with the lands have sustained their cultures and the health and vitality of these lands since the time of creation and continues to this day.

I was born in Victoria, British Columbia and have had the privilege of spending my life getting to know the coastal and marine ecosystems of the West Coast of British Columbia. My father moved here from Toronto, where his father moved from Newfoundland. My mother grew up in Victoria, she was adopted as an infant by my Nana and Papa whom could trace their ancestors back to England. Although I do not know the history and heritage of my genetic ancestors, I do know that my family and I are settlers to these lands.

What gets me up in the morning
: My alarm clock (HA). A perfect morning at home is me sitting out on my porch on my rocking chair with a hot cup of coffee sweetened with woodfired maple syrup, a warm blanket wrapped around me, reading the words of artists, theorists, poets, and writers that aim to change the way we think about our relationship to the nonhuman world, watching the sky lighten with the rising of the sun and greeting the hummingbirds and sparrows that come by to grab a bite and say hello. And Stori, my feline companion.

A bit about me: 
I am passionate about raising awareness about plastic pollution in the ocean. Living in a city on the Southern tip of Vancouver Island means that when it rains (which, believe me, it does) any piece of litter, microplastic, cigarette butt, etc., gets washed into the storm drains and swept out into the ocean. While this may allow the city an appearance of purity, it is imperative that coastal communities have a crucial awareness of where our garbage goes.

I am also very excited about working with more-than-human nature to cocreate sites of ecological and spiritual restoration. Eelgrass, for example, is a flowering seagrass with incredible properties: it sinks more carbon than terrestrial foresters per square km; it filters debris from the water, clearing away murk and allowing sunshine through to feed subtidal plants and animals; and it is a critical habitat for juvenile salmon and invertebrates. While eelgrass can propagate on its own, with deteriorating ocean health eelgrass populations have been on the decline. Successful eelgrass restoration requires eelgrass shoots to be transplanted, as seeding has shown little success. Thus, it requires humans and eelgrass to work together to restore health and vitality to the tidal and subtidal marine ecosystems that have been ravaged by industry.

I have had the privilege of growing up surrounded by the ocean, most if not all of my early influential memories are in or of the ocean. When I was a child, about eight years old, I was camping with my family near a lovely sandy beach. The night of the new moon I went with my two sisters to the beach, we had heard that there was a meteor shower that night and where we were camped the sky was not visible through the canopy of the ancient trees. When we reached the beach we were surprised to see other people, staring up at the sky or into the water with awe. I looked up at the sky and saw more stars than I had ever seen before, the milky way was easily visible in the dark of the new moon. I watched a shooting star go by, it was so bright the comet tail blurred across the sky and across my eyes for what must have been a minute. I was in awe. When my vision cleared I walked down to meet the water, I was amazed to gaze into the water and see the stars there as well. I knew I should swim. And, although I was afraid of the dark water, I submerged my entire body. I dunked my head under and opened my eyes, the salt stung, and my vision was blurred—but I was determined to gaze into the depth of the ocean. The view of the dark ocean, blurred by the saltwater of the west coast, filled with the beautiful light of endless ocean beings, bioluminescent life in everything around me: lit up like the stars above but even more beautiful with the promise of life. The ocean is filled with life and vitality, but it’s not always visible to the human eye.

Tell us something random about yourself: 
One of my favourite things to do is to explore the subterranean karst ecosystem of the caves of Vancouver Island. My time in the caving community of B.C. has taught me the importance of forest ecosystems and the incredible services of the above-ground and underground karst ecosystems. The trees, the limestone, the water, the soils, and flora and fauna of these incredible ecosystems work together to support each other and the human and more-than-human beings that thrive there.

I love many sea critters, but eelgrass holds a special place in my heart. And I love moon jelly!

Pascale Sylvester    
Colleen Wilson

Name: Colleen Wilson

Location (Traditional Territory and City/Town): 

What gets me up in the morning
: The prospect of coffee and waffles. 

A bit about me
: I have a background in coastal engineering and oceanography, and currently work in underwater acoustics – listening to whales! Outside of work I enjoy running, cycling, hiking, skiing and camping. My earliest memory of the ocean was swimming and playing at the beach as a young child while my family was living in New Zealand. I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge for the opportunities to connect and collaborate with other youth passionate about the ocean. 

Tell us something random about yourself
: In 2018 I cycled over 3000 km from Vienna to Helsinki with my family!

Pascale Sylvester    
Danika Guppy

Name: Danika Guppy

Location: I grew up in Belleville but now live in Burlington, Ontario. Both cities are located on traditional Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee territory along Lake Ontario.

What gets me up in the morning: I'm really excited to have recently finished school and started my career, and I'm truly enjoying getting to know my new community by playing in a local soccer league, hiking local trails, spending time with family and friends, and exploring new neighbourhoods. 

A bit about me: As a city planner in Southern Ontario, an important ocean- (and fresh water)-related issue close to my heart is ensuring that our built environment reflects sustainable development principles and has a healthy relationship with our natural environment, especially along the shorelines of Lake Ontario. I'm excited to meet and learn from passionate people across Canada who I know will further energize me and deepen my understanding of ocean-related issues, and I hope this experience with Ocean Bridge will make me a more thoughtful and informed city planner and community member.

Something random about myself: I've attended more than one American Civil War reenactments. The 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania was an absolute blast!

Pascale Sylvester    
Emily Thompson

Name: Emily Thompson

Location: I was born and raised on Algonquin Territory (Ottawa, ON) but am currently living and studying on Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, and Huron-wendat territory (Kingston, ON).

What gets me up in the morning:  I am truly so excited about finishing up my last year of undergrad and the prospects of entering a new chapter of post-grad studies or the workforce!!! I love spending time with my friends, going on runs by the shore of Lake Ontario, practicing yoga, and planning adventures (both small and big scale)!

A bit about me: After studying Political Studies and Global Development at Queen's, I've developed a passion for Indigenous studies. Navigating my identity as a settler and also an ally, I want to advocate and stand behind Indigenous climate leaders in Canada and abroad. An ocean-related issue close to my heart is resistance against the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline and the collective action of Indigenous communities to oppose the pollution of the Fraser River and the Pacific Ocean!! My earliest/most influential memory of the ocean was as an eight-year-old, dipping into the Atlantic ocean in Halifax in the middle of the summer but it still being freezing cold!!

Tell us something random about yourself: My favourite marine animal is the sea otter!

Pascale Sylvester    
Gabe Senecal

NAME: Gabe Senecal

LOCATION: I now live on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg people, in Ottawa, but am originally from a farm near Melfort, Saskatchewan, in Treaty Six territory. 

(Photo: Ferry from Lower Mainland to Pender Island, BC)

WHAT GETS ME UP IN THE MORNING: Days that I exercise, learn, and have conversations with interesting people are good days. 

BIO: I am a graduate student of public policy and administration at Carleton University in Ottawa, and love playing sports and board games. I insist on biking all months of the year, and did so through Saskatchewan’s winters and up Vancouver’s hills (although up Saskatchewan’s hills and through Vancouver’s winters would have been easier).

An ocean-related issue close to my heart is: the built environment humans live in, i.e. our cities and communities, the form and shape of which are key factors in efforts to minimize both runoff and carbon pollution. 

My earliest/most influential memory of the ocean: While I did not grow up near the Ocean (Saskatchewan has a lack of shoreline) nature and the hydrosphere have played a role in my recreation. Early camping and fishing trips to northern Saskatchewan have shaped my appreciation for the environment. The pristine interconnected waterways of the boreal forest are memories I cherish and continue to renew.

I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge because I am keen to build friendships and connections on a team working together to achieve larger goals!

RANDOM FACT: I feel self-conscious about two things especially: my mediocre French and swimming. 

Pascale Sylvester    
Graeme Shaw

Name: Graeme Shaw

Location: From Kintore, Ontario - currently live in Tobermory, Ontario.  Traditional territory of the Odawa people. I was brought to the area by work with Parks Canada at the Bruce Peninsula National Park. 

What gets me up in the morning: A flock of wild turkeys having a party outside my window every morning.

A bit about me: Growing up in rural Ontario, I’ve always spent my free time outside. Though my childhood was surrounded by vast farmland, the majority of my adulthood has been on a sliver of land amidst vast Lake Huron. I manage infrastructure projects for Parks Canada with emphasis on mitigating environmental impact with usage of sustainable and off-grid technologies. After doing a shoreline clean up at a location within my park, I was shocked to see the amount of plastic and garbage washed up on the shore of Lake Huron. This helped spark my initiative to lead institutional change. I’m excited to be part of Ocean Bridge to provide me with knowledge, skills and connections to other passionate people across Canada.  

My favourite marine animal: I like annoying people with loon calls so I’d say they take the cake. 

Pascale Sylvester    
Jennifer Johnson

Name: Jennifer Johnson (call me Jen!)

Location: I live on the traditional territory of the Coast Salish (Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish) in Burnaby, BC.

What gets me up in the morning: Yoga, cycling, and running is what gets me up in the morning most of the time! I teach yoga part-time and am currently training for a 200-mile bike race. When I’m not being physically active, I’m attending sustainability events (often held at the aquarium), or cooking Indian or Thai cuisine. 

A bit about me: Besides being connected to the Pacific Ocean by living in Vancouver, my most influential memory of the ocean was diving in South East Asia in 2016/2017. Seeing the ocean from that perspective unveils an extraordinary universe worth exploring, understanding, and protecting. I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge to champion ocean literacy and conservation within my community while making meaningful connections with fellow Ocean Bridge members across Canada. 

Tell us something random about yourself: My favourite marine animals are orcas and manta rays!

Pascale Sylvester    
Jessica Leung

Name: Jessica Leung

Location: Vancouver, BC. I acknowledge that I live, work, and play on the unceded and traditional territory of the Musqueam, Tsleil Waututh, and Squamish Coast Salish peoples.

What gets me up in the morning: The realization that I only gave myself 20 minutes to shower, get dressed, pack a lunch, and dash out the door. That REALLY wakes me up. 

A bit about me: What keeps me going after my rough morning starts is how much I look forward to my day, everyday. For work, I’ll sometimes be in the field trudging through mud one day and then sitting in the office handling administrative things the next. The adventure doesn’t end when work ends either. Outside of work, I’ll climb, backpack, canoe, or pick up something new. There is so much to live for and there are so many people with fascinating stories to talk to! If only I had more hours in a day.   

I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge because: In a classic case of the tragedy of the commons, it is dangerously easy to perceive our water bodies as never ending reservoirs for waste, runoff, and fishing activity, particularly in its vastness. I think that grassroots programs, like Ocean Bridge, that provide citizens with the education to understand the issues at play and the resources to take action, are powerful in spreading awareness at a community level. And, in my observation, sparking that conversation, action, and passion can be fundamental to motivating change on a greater scale in the long run - at a governmental / policy level. So what I'm trying to say is.. I'm grateful (and excited) to be a part of this group!

Tell us something random about yourself: I spent 2-3 years raising insects. Not enough fruit flies in your life? I can help.

Pascale Sylvester    
Kayla Stephens Pascale Sylvester    
Koral Laschenko

Name: Koral Laschenko

Location:  I was born in Terrace, British Columbia surrounded by beautiful mountains and fresh flowing rivers. My family and I moved to Prince George, British Columbia, traditional territory of the Lheidli T'enneh. We have called ‘PG’ home ever since! 

What gets me up in the morning:  Lots of coffee and good vibes!  The amazing people I am lucky to have in my life, hikes / backpacking trips I am often daydreaming about. Knowing I get to make the best of each day and that something new is always waiting around the corner, I love to learn and am always looking forward to new opportunities. Super excited to be starting this chapter!  

A bit about me:  I am super passionate about the outdoors and am always seeking to learn more and expand my knowledge. I dedicate all of my free time to being outside whether I am taking a walk through a local park, a hike through the summits, or a snowshoe through the woods, I’d like to say I enjoy a bit of everything. I’ve noticed a lot of misuse of the “you pack it in, you pack it out” concept on my adventures. As well as out of hand invasive species, and abuse to our trails and parks. It’s disheartening, and I plan to make a difference and spread as much awareness possible to be the change. I love exploring and practising being mindful as I go, taking in the simple pleasures of life!

My fave marine animal: I have so many fave animals in general but to list a few marine;  Narwhal (they’re so interesting!) , dolphins (spinner, hourglass, bottlenose, etc) , polar bear.

Pascale Sylvester    
Laura G

Name: Laura Gaitan

Location (Traditional Territory and City/Town): 
The Kanien’kehá:ka Nation is recognized as the custodians of the lands and waters on which I reside. Tiohtià:ke/Montréal is historically known as a gathering place for many First Nations. Today, it is home to a diverse population of Indigenous and other peoples. I respect the continued connections with the past, present and future in our ongoing relationships with Indigenous and other peoples within the Montreal community.

What gets me up in the morning : School! At the University of Alberta, I am participating in The Placenames and Oral Histories of Change project, which was carried out collaboratively between the Livelihood and Climate Change Department and the Elders Committee of Treaty 8 First Nations and the University of Alberta. Between June 2018 and February 2019, I worked with another student to document and verify place names in three languages (Dene/Beaver, Cree, and Denesoline), as well as interviewed Elders about oral stories of change. My thesis focuses on these stories of change and how landscapes have changed from the Elders's memories on the land.  

A bit about me: I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge because I would like us to unite for stronger global ocean governance as a new biodiversity framework comes into existence. 

Tell us something random about yourself (or use one of the following suggestions): My favourite marine animal is the sea turtle. 

Pascale Sylvester    
Lauren Krzus

NamLauren Krzus

Location (Traditional Territory and City/Town) - 
I am from Whadjuk region of the traditional territories of the Noongar First Nations in Perth in Western Australia. Now I live on the traditional territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations in Vancouver, BC.

What gets me up in the morning 
:  I've been living in Vancouver for a few years now but that fresh feeling of being in a new place still gets me up and excited every morning. 

A bit about me: 
Ocean acidification (OA) is an issue that has always captured my interest. Diving the thriving Great Barrier Reef as a teenager and then seeing the rapid loss of the coral and the species around it made OA a real, tangible issue for me. I have a passion and fascination with marine plants and am excited that part of the solution to OA is already occurring in natural systems in the sea! My favourite memory of the ocean gave meaning to the phrase 'take my breath away' when a Minke whale and calf dropped in for an unexpected visit on a scuba dive. 

Tell us something random about yourself (or use one of the following suggestions)
: I have probably eaten my body weight in hummus. 

Pascale Sylvester    
Martine Panzica

NamMartine Panzica

Location (Traditional Territory and City/Town) - I am from the Traditional Territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation (Toronto), and now live in traditional Mi'kmaq territory (Halifax) where I attend Dalhousie University. 

What gets me up in the morning: In the morning I love waking up to tend to the indoor jungle I have! I have over 30 houseplants in my tiny apartment, and it is such a joy to see them grow. The things I look forward to in the day are peeking out my window at the ocean across the road, hiking, rock climbing, yoga, and writing. I'm also an aspiring surfer, so anyone with surfing tips, please send them my way! 

A bit about me: An ocean-related issue close to my heart is the climate-driven refugee crisis. My masters' thesis looks specifically at LGBTQ+ refugees and social media, and I've had a passion for working with newcomer communities for many years. I also feel that there's a need for incorporating sustainable development with immigration and am often thinking about how our global migration system is being impacted by climate change. While this isn't ocean specific, I often think about how ocean health is intrinsically linked to human health as well!

My earliest/most influential memory of the ocean is swimming with my best friend on the beach in Prince Edward Island. 

I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge because I know there is so much that can be done regarding ocean sustainability, and I'd love to learn more effective ways that I can make change in my own community and beyond. 

Tell us something random about yourself: I used to be a camp director and canoe/kayak instructor, and I'd love to do a long-distance kayaking trip one day

My favourite marine animal is the humpback whale! Or any whale. I love that they sing. 

Pascale Sylvester    
Meg Schmieder

Name: Meg Schmieder

Location : Toronto, ON

I grew up in Winnipeg, territory of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, Dene peoples and homeland of the Metis Nation. I spent several years in a small village of 200 (I know, only 200 people?!?) in Saskatchewan, called Grayson, also on the Land of the Metis Nation. I moved to Ottawa, Land of the Algonquin people, to study at Carleton University.

Now, I live on the unceded traditional Land of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Huron-wendat (Wyandot) and Mississaugas of the New Credit. Tkaronto, “where there are trees standing in the water”, “the meeting place”, is still very new to me. Love is what brought me to this city and what continues to hold me here. I have found friendship with some many other young academics and activists who are committed to ecological restoration and social justice. My partner and I plan on spending the next 5 years in Toronto finishing our graduate studies. 

Allan Gardens Conservatory | Toronto, ON

What gets me up in the morning ...

What gets me moving in the morning:

  • Stretching in the Sunlight,
  • watering the Plants that line my window sills,
  • snuggling Lila & Myrtle (our Kitties),
  • breakfast with Ry (my partner),
  • black coffee,
  • watching the news. 

Every morning I try to remind myself “today is another day to give a gift to the world”, “today is another day to show someone love”, “today is another day to challenge your perspectives and skills.” 

A bit about me ...

I recently completed an Honours Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management at Carleton University in Ottawa. I took an interest in environmental justice and post-colonial theory. Currently, I am applying for my graduate studies with the intention of researching environmental assessment law, adaptive governance structures, Indigenous research methods, and ecological sciences. I find myself drawn specifically to Water related issues due to Water’s fundamentality - being the utmost life giving and life sustaining force on Mother Earth.

An ocean-related issue close to my heart is...

It’s difficult to choose which Ocean-related issue is most dear to me because they are all intrinsically linked. However, growing up in a Western country I’m aware of the socio and ecological damage caused by Western greed and overconsumption. I’m aware that I’m a part of that problem and am in a privileged position to do something about it. 

Capitalism’s requirement for infinite growth, in a disposable single-use society, compounded by racism, sexism, and queerphobia, is a destructive and violent assault on our Earth and, naturally, ourselves. I joined Ocean Bridge in hopes of finding a community committed to finding solutions. 

I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge because...

Forming a community around Water protection, restoration, and conservation is essential for the renewal of humanity’s relationship with Water. I’m excited to meet like-minded people that all offer different perspectives, ideologies, and stories!

I’m really grateful for the opportunity to meet other passionate young people. It gives me hope for the future of our Water ❤️

Tell us something random about yourself ...

A person I admire is...

Robin Wall Kimmerer. Much of her work has moved me and guided me in a loving direction. 

My favourite marine animal...

I LOVE river Otters. I see a lot of myself in them, in that were both playful, love fishing, and enjoy the company of others. 

Pascale Sylvester    
Nicole Lau

Name: Nicole Lau

Location: I live in Vancouver, BC, the traditional territory of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam peoples. 

What gets me up in the morning: A nice, sunny day (SUCH a treat in rainy Vancouver) and a long run to a good playlist. I like it because it gives me lot of time to dog watch and think about what I'm making for breakfast:)

A bit about me: I am currently at the University of British Columbia studying Natural Resource Conservation through the Faculty of Forestry. I spend any free time I get outdoors, whether that be tackling new trails, camping, climbing, skiing or trail running.

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and have had the privilege of playing and exploring in coastal and marine ecosystems my whole life. I absolutely love being in the ocean, and can be found surfing, scuba diving or swimming in it any chance that I get. However, my appreciation for the ocean grew even more this past semester, where I had the opportunity to live and learn in Haida Gwaii (a beautiful archipelago just off of the BC coast). It was incredible to learn both about the vibrant ecosystems and about the deep connections between the Haida people and their marine territories. It made me realize how critical and urgent it is to bring ocean issues to the forefront to conserve cultural and ecological vitality and richness. 

I am excited to be part of Ocean Bridge and learn from this incredible community full of diverse backgrounds and perspectives. It is truly inspiring to be in a space where everyone is passionate about environmentalism and is taking action to protect where we play. 

My favourite marine animal: sea anemone

Pascale Sylvester    
Paige Manitowabi

NamePaige Manitowabi

Location (Traditional Territory and City/Town)Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory doonjaabaa, Sudbury Ndaa. I am from Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory but I currently live in Sudbury, Ontario and working for Wahnapitae First Nation. I am located in the 3 fires (Odawa, Ojibway and Pottawattamii) Territory of the Anishnaabek people. I reside on the Traditional Territories of Wiikwemkoong, Aitikamisheng and Wahnapitae First Nations. 

What gets me up in the morning
: I have four beautiful children who keep me on my feet. They enjoy the same things I enjoy which is being out in the bush quading, hunting, fishing, boating, swimming, hiking, camping, harvesting plants, harvesting maple syrup and just sitting at camp by a fire roasting marshmallows! We are also involved in our traditional and cultural practices where we gain our knowledge of the lands and waters to upmost respect and protect it. I also enjoy my career as a Environmental Technician!

A bit about me: Well like I mentioned before I am a single mother. I am a Ojibwe and Pottawattamii Anishnaabek Kwe from Manitoulin Island. I went to school for Fish and Wildlife Conservation and now currently working for Wahnapitae First Nation as a Environmental Technician. I am also involved with Water First who is a non profit organization that trains youth in water science and provides First Nation drinking water awareness to the communities! An ocean-related issue close to my heart is hard to choose just one as all of these issues are heartbreaking. My earliest/most influential memory of the ocean is my passion to someday see the Ocean! I have never been able to physically see the ocean but one day I will. I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge because I would like to do more for the Water Spirit! I'm super excited to meet youth across the country who ultimately have the same fight as me! 

Tell us something random about yourself (or use one of the following suggestions): My favorite marine and/or freshwater animal is the Turtles (M'shekehn)! 

Pascale Sylvester    
Sarah Dubord-Fortin

Nom : Sarah Dubord-Fortin

Lieu : J’ai grandi sur le territoire traditionnel Abénaquis et Wabanaki, à Brigham, un petit village des Cantons-de-l’Est, au Québec. Durant mes études, j’habite à Sherbrooke, au Québec, encore une fois sur les terres traditionnelles Abénaquis et Wabanaki.

Qu'est-ce qui me motive à sortir du lit chaque matin? Je dirais que ce qui me motive à sortir du lit est d’abord la nécessité de terminer ma maîtrise en environnement! Je travaille notamment sur l’adaptation aux changements climatiques. Bien sûr, un bon café aide toujours à survivre aux matins. Autrement, la protection de l’environnement et la conviction de se dire qu’il n’est pas trop tard pour agir sont des moteurs importants pour moi. 

Un peu à propos de moi : J’ai cherché longtemps quoi faire dans la vie, cette quête m’a mené à réaliser un baccalauréat en études de l’environnement. J’ai pu toucher à plusieurs domaines, les sols, l’eau, les écosystèmes, la communication, la politique. J’ai compris que l’environnement se manifestait dans toutes les sphères de la vie et qu’il y avait toujours quelque chose à faire pour en prendre soin. Cela pouvait être une véritable carrière, au-delà d’un « simple » intérêt pour la nature. Je poursuis présentement mes études à la maîtrise, toujours dans le domaine de l’environnement. Dès mon plus jeune âge, j’ai toujours aimé me retrouver en nature, randonnée en forêt, plein air, près des lacs, rivières ou montagnes. Il y a également eu des éléments marquants qui m’ont rapproché de l’eau, dont les traditionnelles vacances en famille l’été. Une condition requise, il devait y avoir un accès à l’eau. Que ce soit les rives du Saint-Laurent ou encore les côtes américaines, ces endroits ont marqué mes souvenirs année après année. Encore aujourd’hui, nous essayons de conjuguer nos horaires pour passer quelques jours les pieds sur la grève ou dans le sable. Un rien me comble au bord de l’eau ; passer des heures à observer les baleines ou encore à admirer les oiseaux marins. Malheureusement, cet environnement est menacé. Un problème qui me préoccupe énormément est la perte de biodiversité. En plus de tous les biens et services que la diversité biologique marine, je trouve qu’elle mérite d’exister pour sa valeur intrinsèque. Nous nous devons de changer nos pratiques pour la préserver. Je suis excitée de faire partie de l'équipe Portail Océan parce que se retrouver entouré de gens partageant les mêmes préoccupations et intérêt sera très énergisant à mon avis! 

Quelque chose de surprenant ou de particulier à propos de moi : J’écoute des documentaires animaliers pour me relaxer. C’est encore mieux lorsque David Attenborough en fait la narration.

Mon animal marin préféré : Les requins! Quel animal fascinant…

Pascale Sylvester    
Sarah Gutzmann

Name: Sarah Gutzmann

Location: I am fortunate to have grown up (and currently reside) amongst the forests, mountains, and waters of North Vancouver, which is within the traditional and unceded territories of the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.

What gets me up in the morning: 
Literally, my alarm clock as well as the promise of breakfast and tea. Overall though, I love what I do. Even on days when working in the environmental field feels particularly hopeless, I have amazing friends and coworkers who keep me motivated and inspired. 
A bit about me: I started a career in ocean conservation back in 2009 as a very eager teenager who began volunteering at the Vancouver Aquarium, an Ocean Wise initiative. Since then, I have been actively involved in environmental conservation initiatives while completing high school and university, graduating with a BSc (Honours) in Environmental Science and a minor in Environmental Toxicology this past June. My career thus far has allowed me to work in both public outreach and education (focusing both on marine sciences and Arctic ecosystems) and more traditional science/research type positions. Overall, I am passionate about science communication and making research more accessible to people from different backgrounds. This includes building capacity for community-based resource management (like fisheries – which I focused on in my honours thesis) and making science more collaborative so that it better meets the needs of both people and the environment. In the near future, I’m hoping to go back to university for graduate school, but in the meantime, I’m keeping myself busy trying to publish a manuscript and working as an Environmental Scientist. In whatever free time I have, I love being outdoors, traveling, reading, or painting.

I’m very excited to be joining Ocean Bridge this year because the planet is facing numerous conservation crises. I believe that as youth, we have the passion, energy, and experience to be the change we need to see in the world. I think that Ocean Bridge is an incredible opportunity to give back to my community, learn from experts and peers, and make a real difference for our oceans.

Tell us something random about yourself: 
A random fun fact about me is that I’m a published poet! More on theme though, one of my favourite marine animals are sea urchins because they have some amazing and underrated adaptations. But also, sea otters, spiny lumpsuckers, grunt sculpin, and cuttlefish.

Pascale Sylvester    
Sarina Pasciuta

Name: Sarina Pasciuta

Location : I was born and raised on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe First Nations, also known as Windsor, Ontario. I am currently living on the territory of the Algonquin First Nations (Ottawa, Ontario).

What gets me up in the morning : A yummy breakfast & some yoga! Being active is an important part of my life so you can find me snowboarding in the winters and biking, hiking & canoeing in the summers. I love exploring the outdoors and travelling. I also love spending time with my friends and family.

A bit about me : Although I didn’t grow up near the ocean I lived near Lake St.Clair & Blue Heron pond and always found the waters edge a calming place to be. My love for the ocean comes from my passion for the environment. Growing up I spent my summers camping with my family & playing outside which is what sparked my interest and love for nature. This passion led me to Ottawa to complete a Baccalauréat spécialisé en Études de l’Environnement at the University of Ottawa. 

Being active is also an important part of my life. I played competitive soccer for 12 years and played other sports in high school including volleyball and basketball. Once I moved to Ottawa I got the opportunity to snowboard more often and am now one of the organizers of the University of Ottawa’s ski and snowboard club.

I aspire to one day be a teacher as it has been a lifelong goal of mine. I hope to bring outdoor & ocean education to my classroom! I also think it is important to share our connection to nature with our youth & educate them on the environmental issues our society is facing.

My earliest memory of the ocean :  Snorkeling with my family in Roatan, Honduras! This experience helped me grow an appreciation for the aquatic ecosystem because I find it so interesting there is so much more going on underwater then we realize from our view of the water’s surface.

Ocean Related Issue Close to my Heart : Ocean pollution. Although I did not grow up near the Ocean,  it is disheartening knowing that the nearest source of aquatic beauty for me and other Ontarians are all under an enormous amount of environmental stress due to intense pollution. No matter how far Windsor or Ottawa is from the Atlantic Ocean, how we treat our watershed reflects in its health.

Something Random about me : I absolutely adore flowers & i love gummies...any kind...gummy bears, gummy worms, you name it & I’ll gladly eat it!

Pascale Sylvester    
Siobhan Takala

Name: Siobhan Takala

Where I'm From: I grew up on the prairies, on Plains Cree Territory and the Homeland of the Metis Nation, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. However, these days I am most often a guest in Miꞌkmaꞌki, the ancestral and unceded land of the Mi’kmaq, specifically in K'jipuktuk (Halifax, Nova Scotia). 

What Gets Me Up: I love learning, moving my body, spending sweet, sweet time with the people I love, and spending time outside! These passions manifest in many ways… like swimming, dancing, surfing, learning new instruments or a new recipe, practicing spanish, visiting loved ones, reading and writing, and spending time in the company of the sea or trees! I am truly so happy if I get to swim outside, often, and laugh with my people.

A Bit About Me:  My earliest/most influential memory of the ocean…is visiting the Pacific Ocean for the first time at 8 years old. My family was in Vancouver to visit family, and I remember so much curiosity and awe going through my little body!

I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge because…I am excited to connect with other young, passionate creatives and innovators who care about our precious, beautiful earth. I am excited to learn and grow together with new people! I am excited to feel connected, seen, and inspired.

Something Random:  One of my favourite books is The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman! (not actually about oceans, but is a very good book, and about something that impacts ocean health greatly).

Pascale Sylvester