The Columbia River is beautiful and impressive—and important for many cultural, ecological and economic reasons.

In August 2018, 16 youth launched on an 11-day journey down the river to understand this waterway and its values.

Through 21 guest speakers, participants in Wildsight’s Columbia River Field School gained an appreciation for the history of the people, the fish and wildlife, the impacts of dams and reservoirs, the future of the Columbia River Treaty as well as learning important skills needed to traverse the river in a canoe.

ʔakisq̓nuk Chief Alfred Joseph shared the Ktunaxa creation story with the group, providing insight into the important relationship and connection that the Ktunaxa people have with the river, the land and the animals. Will Warnock, Ktunaxa Nation biologist, discussed returning salmon to the river. Sinixt spokesperson Shelley Boyd led the youth on a group paddle in a traditional canoe.

One student, Ali Giesbrecht, described the trip as life-changing, emphasizing the connection she made with the other youth and the land.

Wildsight’s Education Manager Monica Nissen said, “It was learning that was real, lived and felt—it was place-based learning at its best.”


“To learn directly from the land and its people, to mix intellect with experience, to think critically but speak from the heart: this is what education should be about. I am confident that this adventure will send ripples of inspiration across the Columbia Basin and beyond for years to come.” said Field School Coordinator Graeme Lee Rowlands.


For the full story, check out Wildsight’s article here.

Photos: Bailey Repp