2020 Atlantic Cohort / Cohorte Atlantique 2020
|Aileen Duncsn||Aileen Duncan|
Name: Alana Wittman
Location (Traditional Territory and City/Town):
Currently, I am living on Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Huron-wendat and Mississaugas of the New Credit territory in Toronto. I grew up in Blackfloot and Stoney Nakoda territory in Calgary, went to university in Syilx territory in Kelowna, and worked on Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh territory in Vancouver before moving to Toronto.
My morning coffee and beet-ginger-carrot smoothie!
At the moment, I am in grad school studying environmental planning in urban areas. My research is focused on how cities can increase their natural and structural capacity to adapt to climate change and extreme weather events by transitioning away from hard infrastructure and towards green infrastructure. Before returning to school, I worked as a community organizer for two not-for-profit charities, Reconciliation Canada and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), where I led citizen mobilization campaigns to inspire people to take action on social and environmental issues in their region.
My first and most influential memory of the ocean was when I was 17: As my graduation gift to myself, I bought a flight to Victoria, packed my backpacking gear and a map for the Juan de Fuca trail. Seeing the ocean for my first time while on my first solo multi-day hiking trip was amazing.
I'm very interested in watershed planning and the expansion of the National Marine Conservation Area system. I'm looking forward to engaging with these topics during the Ocean Bridge program.
My favourite marine animal: The sea otter - it always looks like they are having so much fun!
Name: Aly Soliguen
Location: I live on the traditional land of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in in Dawson City, Yukon Territory.
What gets me up in the morning: What gets me up in the morning are my two dogs (Sadie and Charlie) and my beardie Prince (he gets mad for the rest of the day if he wakes up and his food bowl is empty..)
A bit about me: I’m originally from the Philippines and moved all the way to the Yukon when I was 12. Growing up in the Philippines, my grandma’s backyard was the beach so I mostly spent all my childhood days by the water. The reason why I am so eager to spread word about marine pollution is because I have seen first hand how much it affects not only marine life but as well as humans that rely on the ocean as their way of life. One of my favourite memories is waiting for fishermen to come back from sea and help release marine animals that are caught on the fishing nets but are not beneficial in terms of profit.
Tell us something random about yourself: The first time I went fishing with my stepdad, I caught a fish and started crying (literally bawled my eyes) and begged him to put it back. I still do to this day and my brother just looks at me weirdly.
Name: Anika Riopel
I grew up in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, which is the traditional territory of the Anishnaabeg. I currently live in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People, (Halifax) Nova Scotia. I moved here because I wanted to be close to the ocean and in a mid-sized city with a thriving arts scene!
What gets me up in the morning: People and pets: my jobs and co-workers(whom I love), plans with people, events, event planning and taking my gentle giant German shepherd Boris for walks.
A bit about me:
Favourite Marine Animal: OCTOPUS - one time an octopus touch my face and it was the best day of my life.
Name: Anika Smithson
Location: I am originally from Orangeville, ON, the traditional territory of the Huron-Wendat. I moved away for school and work, first living in Courtenay, BC on Vancouver Island, the traditional territory of the K’omoks First Nation and am currently in Wolfville, NS which is located on the traditional territory of the Mi’kmaq.
What gets me up in the morning: My alarm is usually what wakes me up in the morning, telling me to get ready for another day of school. I am currently finishing up my degree, so there is no shortage of things to get done! When I am not in school, the anticipation of spending time outside gets me up. I enjoy exploring new places, hiking, Nordic skiing and kayaking.
A bit about me: Growing up in Southern Ontario, my family spent a lot of time camping and it was during these trips that I fell in love with the outdoors. My passion for the outdoors has taken me on some pretty awesome adventures. In university, I completed a degree in Earth Sciences where I developed an interest in environmental education and outreach. To that end, I found myself out west, pursuing adventure guiding. Through a college program, I was certified as a sea kayak guide which led to some great job opportunities, like last summer, when I worked as a sea kayak guide on the Bay of Fundy. It also led me to Acadia University, where I am currently finishing up my master’s degree in community development and expect to graduate in May (yay!). My research involved an evaluation of a high school program run by Kejimkujik National Park Seaside focused on conservation issues surrounding invasive green crabs. It was a great opportunity to learn about coastal conservation issues in Nova Scotia.
My earliest memory of the ocean is on a family camping trip to PEI. I was about four years old and my family and I spent the day at the beach. My sister and I sat in the water at low tide making mud-drip sandcastles. Even though I was so young, I remember it being a lot fun, but relaxing at the same time.
I am excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge because I am passionate about ocean conservation and wanted to be part of a group of like-minded people that together can tackle issues that we might not have been able to do on our own. I am also excited to meet people from across Canada and learn more about the ocean.
Tell us something random about yourself: One of my favourite things to do when on an outdoor adventure is to get up early by myself and watch the sunrise, listening to the sounds of nature.
My favourite marine animal is the sea star. I think they are beautiful creatures. Fun Fact: Leather Stars smell like garlic.
Name: Bridget John
Location: I grew up in Collingwood, ON, my summers filled with playing in the waves of Georgian Bay and winters of carving up the hills. Trading in the hills for mountains and lakes for oceans, I currently work and play at the head of Atl’ka7tsem/ Howe Sound on the unceded and traditional territory of the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations in beautiful Squamish, BC.
What gets me up in the morning: I’ve yet to appreciate the vial taste of coffee...probably going to make enemies with that one! Everyday there’s something to learn and something to share, whether it happens as I scale a mountain in my own backyard or when I’m deep in conversation about the ocean.
A bit about me: After graduating with a Combined Major of Biology and Oceanography at the University of British Columbia, my life has revolved around the marine environment. From interning as a cetacean researcher in the Irish Sea to working as a fisheries observer on commercial fishing boats off BC’s northwest coast. Currently, I am working two jobs that I hold very close to my heart. I am working with the Ocean Wise Mobile Programs team sharing how we are all connected to the ocean and solutions to maintaining a flourishing ocean. I am also working for the Howe Sound/Atl’ka7tsem Marine Reference Guide as a research assistant building capacity to improve the future of marine spatial planning. My earliest memory of the ocean was in Rhode Island - as a curious 5 year old I just had to know what a jellyfish’s tentacles felt like!
Location: I'm currently living in Halifax, in the unceded territory of the Mi'kmaq, but I'm originally from Winnipeg (traditional territory of the Cree, Oji-Cree, Dene, Dakota, and Anishinaabe, and homeland of the Metis) which is about the farthest place in Canada you can get from the oceans.
What gets me up in the morning: the next opportunity to learn something interesting - whether that's exploring somewhere I've never been, trying a new recipe, reading, or talking with someone new. I love to play sports (I'm a touch competitive), with squash being the current flavour of the month.
A bit about me: my earliest memory of the ocean was snorkelling in Mexico. I simply could not believe the diversity of animals I was seeing, the colours, the movement. Seeing a real live sea turtle and being blown away by how graceful it was. And I won't ever forget the sailfish that scared the hell out of me. The ocean-related issue closest to my heart is biodiversity loss. I'm continually flabbergasted by obscure tidbits of ocean information and the fact that we may never learn about something because we've destroyed it makes me upset.
Something random: I'm a former college football player (go Bisons) and my favourite food is cheese.
Name: Cayley Elcombe
|Cindy Au Yeung||
Name: Cindy Au Yeung
Location: I grew up and live on the traditional territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations in Vancouver, BC.
What gets me up in the morning: Definitely the idea of food and making a cup of hot tea or coffee! It is then followed by a short wave of panic from snoozing my alarm too many times and begrudgingly sliding out of bed before I’m running late for work or a meeting! :)
A bit about me: I am extremely blessed to live by the Pacific Ocean. In the summer, I love all kinds of water-related activities – whether it’s kayak or canoe-camping or attempting to learn windsurfing… (why is it so hard?!) But when I am in the ocean, I feel like my soul comes alive!
Yet, living by the ocean has also made me aware of so many interconnected issues that affect ocean health. I'm really hoping to combine my day job working as an editor in the film industry with my passion for ocean environmentalism to bring awareness to these issues.
I am extremely excited to be part of Ocean Bridge to meet like-minded people who love the ocean and want to make a difference! It would be so enlightening to learn about each other’s perspectives and experiences with the ocean.
My favourite marine animal: Sea glass sponges and corals are extremely fascinating. I love that they provide homes for so many other little fishes and animals! And I love seeing jellyfish swim!
|Cindy Au Yeung|
Name: Claire Wilson
Location: I live in Albert Bridge on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia which is the traditional territory of the Mi’kmaq.
What gets me up in the morning:
I am definitely not a morning person, but once I have woken up a bit there's so much that gets me excited for the day ahead! I love to play the fiddle, draw and paint. My current art project is painting every lighthouse in Cape Breton! On the days when I don’t have class at my university, I work at a ski hill and teach skiing. When the ski hill is not open, I can probably be found taking my dog to the beach, hiking, or spending time with my friends!
A bit about me:
My earliest memory of the ocean is having a picnic with my parents at Simon’s Point in Cape Breton. I was just a toddler at the time, but I still have a picture of me and my dad from that day! I grew up spending tons of time at all of the many beaches near my house with my parents, my friends, and my dog, so I have so many happy memories of the ocean. Now every time I go to a beach, I end up picking up a lot of plastic to recycle which is really upsetting. Limiting my use of single-use plastics is one thing I have committed to try to do in order to reduce my impact on the ocean and the environment. I have to admit that I am a bit of a shopaholic, so buying clothes that are more sustainable like ones that are made from recycled materials, natural fibers, or are thrifted is something that I am super passionate about. The textile industry has a big impact on the environment and water sources, so I do my best to limit my contributions. Through Ocean Bridge, I am really excited to help protect the oceans that I love so much!
Tell us something random about yourself:
The lobster has to be my favourite marine animal; they are so iconic of Nova Scotia!
Location - I live on the traditional terriroty of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations in Vancouver, BC. I recently moved back to Vancouver to be closer to the outdoors and the lifestyle I want to live.
What gets me up in the morning: My dog gets me up in the morning with kisses and the prospect of going on a hike with her gets me out of bed. The hikes I get really excited about involve a waterfall, mountains/lakes, or are along the coast.
A bit about me:
An ocean-related issue close to my heart is… the harm of plastic water bottles. We live in a place with safe drinking water that is free in Canada. Buying bottled water is essentially paying money to put plastic into our oceans.
My earliest/most influential memory of the ocean… is spending hours with my grandpa at the beach (which was his front yard) in Powell River (very remote). We would find starfish, save stranded fish in the tidal pools, and go digging for clams. This is where my amazement with oceans began.
Tell us something random about yourself :
I have a daily joke. I started the distribution list because I work in a corporate job and people around me needed to smile more.
Name : Eli Lusty
I'm motivated by the community and commitments that I've surrounded myself by. That's what get me out of bed and I've found it a better life than lying under my covers until I get bored.
A bit about me & the ocean...
I grew up in Ontario and my earliest memory of the ocean is visiting Nova Scotia as a child and gagging on the ocean water while snorkelling.
Name: Hi there, my name is Grace!
Location (Traditional Territory and City/Town): I am currently completing my undergraduate degree in Hamilton, ON on the traditional Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee territory and I am originally from Ottawa, ON on the traditional Algonquin territory.
What gets me up in the morning (tell us about what you enjoy doing): I love doing yoga in the mornings and enjoying a nice cup of coffee. I'm grateful to be surrounded by wonderful friends as well who make every day a treat!
A bit about me: My interest in ocean conversation developed while working at Fundy National Park and living beside the Atlantic ocean in Alma, NB. I can usually be found hiking, creating a new vegan recipe, or searching for moths! An ocean-related issue close to my heart is sustainable fishing and finding solutions to maintain sigh populations and dependent local economies. I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge because of all of the incredible people who are part of this program. I am looking forward to sharing passions and ideas with this national network and collaborating with other young people who are committed to increasing ocean-related advocacy.
|Jake Young||Jake Young|
Location (Traditional Territory and City/Town)
I was born and raised and currently reside on unceded Stó:lō and Coast Salish Territory in Abbotsford, B.C.
What gets me up in the morning
Typically my cat meowing incessantly at the door and making it to the gym early enough to get a spot in my favourite fitness class.
A bit about me
One of my most influential memories of the ocean was when I was living in Turks and Caicos developing swimming and aquatic programs. I was participating in an open water interisland swimming race. The water was perfectly clear that day, and I could see every detail of the ocean floor. It was both beautiful and horrifying because below those turquoise water, right next to the “Best Beach in the World” (as deemed by Tripadvisor), laid a staggering amount of trash. Plastic cups, utensils, and straws; flip flops, beach toys, and alcohol containers. The following week I got a group together who committed to doing a monthly beach clean-up around the island which grew incredibly and became sponsored by several companies on island.
Following my stint in Turks and Caicos, I moved to Sweden to pursue a Masters in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability. My experience on the island helped inspire my thesis which examined “Promoting Sustainability through the Integration of Citizen Science and Ecotourism”.
As someone who lives inland, I’m excited to be part of the Ocean Bridges program as I feel it’s important for communities like mine to understand how much of an impact, for better or for worse, we can have on the ocean despite it being over 50km away from it.
Tell us something random about yourself
Favourite marine animal
While it brings me to tears every time I see whales or dolphins in the wild, I find octopuses with their hilarious cleverness and nudibranchs with their stunning variety equally as awesome.
Name: Hi, I’m Julia Wiebe!
Location: I live in Vancouver, British Columbia which is part of the traditional territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.
What gets me up in the morning: I am extremely lucky to live in such a beautiful location where I have a view of the ocean every morning! Sunrise hikes and a really good cup of coffee with my loved ones would be my perfect way to start every day.
A bit about me: I grew up in Calgary, Alberta and lived there for the better part of 21 years! My sisters and I took a road trip to Vancouver to run in the Seawheeze Half Marathon, and I fell in love with the way the ocean kissed the city each morning. After returning home I packed my bags and moved to Vancouver three weeks later! After living in a landlocked city for basically my whole life I definitely do what I can to explore Vancouver’s backyard. As much as the rainy climate will allow me, that is!
I love to travel and have had the opportunity to visit a new country a year! As a result I feel really passionate about protecting the bodies of water that connect us all together. I am excited that we have the opportunity to bring awareness to, and to create and participate in the conversation surrounding ocean conservation. For me, being a part of Ocean Bridge means being a part of change. It means that I get to be a part of something beneficial to our entire world.
Favourite Marine Animal: I have a lot of favourites but if I were to choose... a sea otter!
Name : Kaelyn Middleton
Location: I was born and raised in Winnipeg on treaty one land of the Anishinabek.
A bit about me:
Tell us something random about yourself (or use one of the following suggestions):
My favourite marine animal are dolphins, I was always obsessed with them since I was little! I love all cetaceans.
|Kaitlin Richard||Name : KAITLIN RICHARD
Location: I am originally from the very small town of Azilda, Ontario which is on traditional Anishinaabe land of the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek First Nation. I am now 12 hours northwest of there residing in the traditional Anishinaabe land of Fort William First Nation in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I moved here in 2016 for my career as a Staff Scientist for Science North.
What gets me up in the morning: FOOD. If there is something cooking I'll be up in an instant. Once I'm up, my inner fuel is SCIENCE. I absolutely love everything science and science communication, and I am grateful that I get to share that passion each day through my job. Knowing that I can make an impact in rural children lives through science literacy and engagement on a daily basis is definite way to stay motivated
A bit about me: I have a B.Sc in Biochemistry and a Masters in Science Communication from Laurentian University - these combined haven given me the opportunity to be a "Bill Nye of North Western Ontario" delivering science shows and programs to kids across Northern Ontario (who doesn't like elephants toothpaste and explosions?!). I enjoy everything outdoors, I love laughing, and I live for a good adventure.
Tell us something random about yourself:
Name: Kamaya Atterberry
Location (Traditional Territory and City/Town):
I grew up on the utraditional territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations in North Vancouver, BC.
My morning coffee and my dogs barking at a squirrel.
I try to be outdoors as much as I can. Whether, it’s going for a quick walk with my dogs, camping, hiking, or kayaking. I want to start combining my passion for the ocean and photography to help bring awareness to the issues that our oceans face. Issues that is occurring that are close to my heart is plastic pollution and overfishing, and I want to find ways to tackle this with the help from my community and this program.
My first and most influential memory of the ocean was when I was around 6 years old. My friend and I would always go down to our local beach and swim out to on of the buoys. Then, we would dive as deep as our lungs could hold and then we would turn on our back and float back up to the surface. I honestly thought I was a mermaid at that point in life.
My favourite marine animal: Sea Lions! They are adorable and remind me of dogs.
Name: Kirsten Desorcy
My earliest/most influential memory of the ocean would be when I was two my parents brought me down to BC to visit family and ended up bringing me to the Vancouver Aquarium, where I got to see orcas (Finna & Bjossa). Then a year later Free Willy came out and I was hooked! I've only seen the ocean that time and then again when I was 24 but no matter where I am I get drawn to water. So I did a lot of camping next to lakes growing up. My dream is to live on the coast somewhere someday.
Name: Laura Hirt
Location: I am from Scarborough, Toronto ON. Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Huron-wendat (Wyandot) and Mississaugas of the New Credit territory.
What gets me up in the morning: I like to sleep in, but when I do get up I enjoy thinking about what my next project is going to be. I do this even when I have already started on a few.
A bit about me: I am a graduate from Seneca College, Fashion Arts program. My passion is trying to find a way for my industry to be more sustainable. At the very least I try to make sure that my brand is eco friendly. One of the largest problems in my industry is the amount of water pollution it creates. This affects our oceans and Great Lakes, especially when thinking about cotton. This is why I try my best never to buy new fabric when making clothing and I only shop for myself at thrift/ vintage stores. I am very excited to be apart of the Ocean Bridge because now I will be able to find like minded individuals that I can share my knowledge of the Fashion world with. I will also be able to learn way more about our oceans then I ever could on my own, and hopefully use that knowledge to help change my industry for the better.
Something random about myself: I am a competitive Archer, also my favourite animal is an Alpaca because they are cute and have the softest wool (for me to make things out of).
Photo credits: Natasha Hirt
Name : Marie-Andrée Désourdy
Location - I live in Montréal, QC, (Kanien'keha:ka (Mohawk) territory)
My most influential memory of the ocean is when I went to Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and realized how much pollution there was in the ocean. The Copacabana beach was so filled with garbage that it was really disgusting to swim. I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge because I really believe that we can reduce plastic waste to increase the health of our oceans.
Tell us something random about yourself : I can drive tractors!
Name: Martin Ostrega
Location: I live on the traditional territory of the Huron-Wendat First Nations in Oakville, Ontario.
What Gets Me Up In The Morning: On the best day it would usually be a day of research or a fishing trip. Any opportunity that I would get to be out by a river or water is enough motivation to get me up at any time and enjoy doing what I love.
A Bit About Me: An issue that is currently occurring that I hold close to my heart would be that of overfishing. I have seen and researched this issue throughout the Caribbean, Great Lakes, Atlantic, and Pacific coasts. I hope to learn about ways to combat this through the completion of my Master of Marine Management, as well as, through the Ocean Bridge Program. As an avid fly fisherman, I would want to protect vital fisheries that are in a crisis and ensure fish are able to thrive sustainably and their habitat is protected. Being someone who travels to several destinations to fish, I want to ensure that future generations are able to enjoy the beauty and serenity that comes with fishing and respect waterways the way that I do.
Something Random About Me: My favourite fish species would be any Salmonid, Permit, Bonefish, or Tarpon. These fish are species that I love and are in need of protection so that these wonderful animals are able to thrive for centuries to come.
Name: Martin Tang
A bit about me:
An ocean-related issue close to my heart is ocean acidification. The ocean has become more acidic in recent years and this has made it difficult for marine organisms to form their shells or skeletons.
I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge because I've never been close to the ocean before and I'm interested to see what I can contribute to improve the health of our oceans.
Tell us something random about yourself:
Name: Melina Stokes
traditional territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations in North Vancouver, BC.
A big ol' lick from my dog and cat cuddles. If I could have it my way I'd have a big family breakfast on Hornby island with pancakes and fruit every day (wouldn't that be the best way to get up in the morning?)
If I'm not out running, I am out rowing, and if I'm not rowing I'm reading! You could catch me on top of a mountain or poking around tide pools with my beautiful dog Charlie.
My earliest memory of the ocean is waiting on the beach at Cate's park with my sisters while my dad went scuba diving to bring us back a bucket full of sea cucumbers, crabs and urchins to look at!
I am very passionate about Herring in the Salish Sea. You may not know about these little fish...but they are BIG part of the coastal ecosystem. Despite record breaking low numbers of these big little fish, the fisheries are still going strong! By standing up for herring, we protect the entire ecosystem all the way up the food chain to the orcas! #biglittlefish
Name: Miranda Floreano
Location: I am from the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee in Hamilton, ON. I currently live in Lindsay, ON where I attend the school of Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences at Fleming College.
What gets me up in the morning: Getting out in nature, doing field work and soaking in the sun. Going to school with passionate people who care about the environment so much and faculty who are always going above and beyond to provide incredible learning experiences, is something I look forward to every day.
A bit about me: I completed my undergraduate degree in Life Sciences at McMaster University. Initially planning to go into healthcare, I took an Environmental Issues course as an elective and it opened my eyes to the field in a whole new way! I then switched paths, focusing my courses on ecology and environmental science and had the incredible opportunity to partake in conservation research in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve in the Amazon Rainforest of Peru with Operation Wallacea.
As an Ecosystem Management student, I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge because it brings together three of my favourite things: marine health, education and conservation! I am really looking forward to meeting the other members of the cohort and connecting with my community in a meaningful way.
An ocean-related issue close to my heart is overfishing. As an ecology student, I am very interested in population dynamics and understanding the delicate balance that needs to be maintained in order for species to thrive.
Name: Mitchell Levesque-Mehaney
Location: I live in two areas! When I'm not attending university in St. John's I live in small community out in the "bay", in the town of Summerford! Both of which are the traditional territory of the Beothuk and Mi'kmaq
What gets me up in the morning: What gets me up in the morning is usually my 6am alarm and a large ice coffee! But also the drive to learn new techniques regarding biology, new methods in ocean protection, and the work I do with mental health!
A bit about me: I was born and raised in Kingston Ontario for about 9 years, until I moved to Newfoundland! I lived in a small fishing community called Indian Cove, which meant that everyday in the summer I would either be on a wharf watching all the fish and jelly fish swim around or out in boat on the absolutely stunning ocean.
Fast forward to now, I'm completing my 3rd year of my biology degree at Memorial University (MUN), and the plan is to switch to a Joint Major in Marine Biology in the fall semester. I have always had a interest and was passionate about the literally everything that had to do with the ocean, but I was hooked when last summer I had the privilege of joining Clean Harbours Initiative which is a small ocean clean up group that started out in Twillingate! My role in Clean Harbours is to develop and deliver presentations regarding microplastics and how to protect our oceans, as well I record what our diver pulls out of the harbour and turn that into usable statistical data!
Along with my passion and curiosity of the ocean, I also run a student non for profit called MUN Minds! The goal of MUN Minds is to reduce the stigma around mental health illnesses and making it a topic that everyone is able to talk about without feeling ashamed.
Tell us something random about yourself: I realized while looking for a photo of me doing literally anything, I don't have any! So here's the first of many tires I've pulled out of the harbour and a picture of me after "snowmageddon"
Name: Monika Szpytko
Name: Natasha Hirt
Location: I live in Tkaranto, on the traditional territories of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat peoples, lands that are now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
Almost nothing... I love sleep almost as much as I love the ocean! Though I do enjoy waking up for morning cuddles with my step-son, and I will always be excited to rush out the door for any adventure.
A bit about me:
I am a conservation photographer, I hold a BFA in Photography from OCAD University, and a graduate certificate in Environmental Visual Communication from Fleming College & Royal Ontario Museum. I am currently working full-time as the National Marketing & Graphic Design Specialist at Make-A-Wish Canada in Pickering, Ontario. I have worked as a photographer at various Parks Canada sites over the last few years, including, Rouge National Urban Park (Toronto) and Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site (Nova Scotia). I also currently volunteer as the Marketing Assistant at Photographers Without Borders.
I am passionate about all things ocean-related so it would be hard to pick one cause that's close to my heart so here are a few that I am particularly interested in: plastics and waste-reduction (I myself am striving to have a more zero-waste and sustainable lifestyle), marine protection in Canada, overfishing and open-net fish farms, and aquatic/marine invasive species. I am also very passionate about also addressing intersecting social issues and the importance of citizen science projects.
I began competitive swimming when I was 7 years old and I have always been drawn to the water. My earliest memory of the ocean is from a family trip to Hunting Island State Park in South Carolina, looking in tide pools and salt-water marshes and finding shark teeth in the sand.
I am excited to be part of the Ocean Bridge program because it's such an incredible opportunity to collaborate with and be inspired by other youth across the country!
I love the rain, my plant babies and sharks!
Name: Nikki Kroetsch
A bit about me: I'm addicted to traveling and experiencing and learning about other cultures; if I won the lottery I would likely be a nomad for the rest of my life. I'm also a total nerd; I love learning and sharing what I've learned. I'm currently a Masters student in the Resource and Environmental Management Planning Program at Simon Fraser University, BC. My research is looking into how resource management agencies (i.e., governments) can better collaborate with community environmental stewardship groups (such as Streamkeepers) to collect environmental data. I also work as a server in a restaurant near where I live. I'm a workaholic and often struggle to find a work-school-life balance, but I love what I do, so I can't complain too much :p
Two ocean-related issues close to my heart are ocean acidification and plastic pollution. It breaks my heart to see (1) how many coral reefs have perished as a result of ocean acidification and warming and (2) the direct and indirect impacts that micro- and macro-plastic pollution in the ocean has on wildlife.
My earliest and most influential memories of the ocean are not one and the same. My earliest memories of the ocean are taking weekly ferry rides to go visit my grandparents on the Sunshine Coast, BC, and then spending hours on the beach, picking up rocks, trying to find the little crabs hiding beneath them. But my most influential memories of the ocean occur beneath the surface. I really enjoy scuba diving, and I was fortunate enough to dive on the Great Barrier Reef when I lived in Australia ten years ago, as well as in Maui when I camped there earlier this year. The barrier reef was a vibrant, flourishing, colourful underwater landscape filled with life; whereas the reefs in Maui were nothing more than the algae-covered skeletal remains of what I am told previously resembled the barrier reef in terms of vibrancy and life. The changes that we are seeing in such a short timeframe are what motivate me to work towards facilitating ocean education and literacy as well as conservation efforts.
|Reece Van Breda||
Name: Reece Van Breda
Location: I live on the traditional land of Anishinaabe Territory - Thunder Bay, Ontario.
What gets me up in the morning: Working with 2 exiting internships (Ocean Bridge & Human Rights Connected) to develop and sharpen my skills on how to become a leader on ecological and human rights concerns here in Canada and around the world, and the pragmatic approaches to them.
A bit about me: Originally from New Liskeard (Cree Territory) and moved around Northern Ontario in my youth. Completed my Bachelor of International Development at Humber College in 2018, and planning on starting my Masters of International Development at Saint Mary's University in Halifax Fall 2020. I have lived in Ukraine, Peru, Argentina, and Israel working with different human rights organizations and the like. Interested in Fair Trade economics and capacity building. My sister completed Ocean Bridge in Great Lakes cohort 2019 and had a really great time!
|Reece Van Breda|
Location: I live within Anishinabek traditional territory, and I am apart of the Robinson-Superior Treaty. Red Rock First Nation Band member, now I reside within the town of Nipigon.
What gets me up in the morning: In a fast-paced, ever-consuming world, I developed a reliance on Coffee like a lot of people, and savour the first cup like it is liquid gold haha! But I also enjoy chatting with my loved ones, checking social media, getting things done, and thinking of what can I learn today.
A bit about myself: In May 2018, my family and I travelled to Sydney, Nova Scotia. It was one of the few times where we all got along for once, sort of. There was still fights, and unsuspecting personal conflict, and often, I was more stressed than relaxed with being the mediator.
However, I still remember a night where I met a couple, while talking with them, I learned they lived in Nipigon before. They stopped to talk to me, while on the excursion of walking their dog, the shirt I wore has caught their attention. It's made of breathable polyester or nylon, coloured light-blue and on it, a printed design of Brook Trout that the town was once known for. For more context, that same freshwater fish species is used in conjunction with the labour day event, the Fall Fishing Festival, and you'll see it on merchandise, flyers, posters, in the parade, etc.
This moment of recognition, while on the Sydney Boardwalk, and the light of blue-pink skies painting every surface and object below, it made me feel peace. I'm still grateful to have experienced being so close with the Atlantic ocean.
Now, back to the present, I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge due to the fact that raising awareness at a local level, will contribute to what bills and regulations will go through with the elections, funding, and initiatives. Information should be shared, to bring awareness to a lot of issues such:
as how ecosystems are dying from the increasing rate of acidity; that the arctic and antarctica habitats are reducing rapidly and animal species are resorting to desperate means to survive; ocean debris; oil spills; with bodies of water increasing temperature means seeing fish that weren't originally native to the area which could disrupt the ecosystem as a whole; how the effect of thermal expansion threatens coastal cities and islands, along with natural disasters such as hurricanes and flooding. I really do believe being a part of Ocean Bridge, can help.
Cooking: My favourite dish to make is long-grain rice with whatever I want, thrown into a deep-dish pan and cooking in the oven for 35 to 45 minutes.
Name: Shirley Ngai
|Umang Khandelwal||Umang Khandelwal|