British Columbia teen Saskia Vaisey writes in her blog, “A human connection is the most powerful way to affect people.”
She is one of four young people finding their way to the Yukon to do just that. Vaisey, along with Gavin Rea (California), Jessica Magonet (Quebec) and Graham May (British Columbia) will be teaming up with Allison Furniss of B.Y.T.E., Yukon’s own organization of youth activists, to trigger dialogue between southern and northern Canada, on the issue of climate change.
Oh yeah, they’ll also be cycling from Whitehorse to Inuvik, Northwest Territories.
The trip is an initiative from Grass Routes, which is a collective of globally-conscious youth who have been embarking on cycling missions since 2012 to raise awareness about environmental and social issues.
The Inuvik team will come together to deliver interactive workshops about climate change, youth leadership, and bike maintenance in Whitehorse, Pelly Crossing and, if all goes according to schedule, Dawson City.
They will also be fundraising along the way to support the Purple Bike Project, which is a partnership with BYTE, the Boys and Girls Club of Whitehorse and local entrepreneur Philippe LeBlonde to refurbish and rent out bikes on the cheap.
This is a demonstrable example of how to move from dialogue into environmental action.
The group will also be filming a short documentary and sharing their story by way of social media, profiling diverse geographical perspectives, and building Canadian awareness of environmental sustainability.
The individuals in this group of young activists have some pretty weighty résumés given their tender years.
Saskia Vaisey and Jessica Magonet have both been Toyota Earth Day Scholarship winners on the weight of their activism within their schools and communities, Magonot having been inspired at a very young age by her elementary school science teacher.
May and Magonet were youth delegates to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in 2012. Rea is an adventurer from California attending Mount Allison University in Nova Scotia, where he is a frequent contributor to the school’s independent student newspaper.
Yukon born-and-raised Allison Furniss, BYTE’s Whitehorse outreach coordinator, is a graduate in kinesiology and nutrition. She has just returned home after four years living and working in different parts of Africa for a youth driven sport-for-development organization.
Despite their focus on climate change, the group is also embracing the adventure of their undertaking.
“The days on the road with the group, the actual cycling… and arriving in Dawson City, that will be the best feeling ever,” says Furniss.
Expect to see the group heading out of Whitehorse on August 11 for Pelly Crossing, then Dawson City and if all goes as planned, arriving in Inuvik on August 17.
From the energy evidenced by their collective history, this is just a taste of their adventurous lives to come.
For more information about the workshops the riders will be presenting in the Yukon contact the BYTE office by email at email@example.com or by phone at 667-7975.
To check out Saskia Vaisey’s blog or for more information about the Grass Routes cycle trips, go to www.GrassRoutesBiking.com