Plenty Canada is an Indigenous, registered charity located in Lanark, Ontario. Their efforts work to combine Indigenous Traditional Knowledge with Western Science, creating a more sustainable future for all at the local, provincial, national, and international levels. They have a longstanding record of achievement, having been incorporated provincially as the “Plenty Relief Society of Canada” in 1976, and then federally in February of 1984 as “Plenty Canada.”
Plenty Canada’s project aims to engage youth, ages 13-19, with canoeing and environmental stewardship through an Indigenous perspective. Teaching youth about the history and origins of the canoe in Canada, and the incredible role it has played in our country’s history, will help foster a deeper appreciation and respect for the canoe. Youth will receive teachings on environmental stewardship, and have hands-on experiences participating in the conservation project for Indigenous Wild Rice in McCulloch’s Mud Lake. It is incredibly important to have teenagers active and engaged with outdoor activity, participating in environmental stewardship and learning more about our environment and ecosystems, while also participating in reconciliation and gaining an appreciation and understanding of Indigenous culture.
From May to October 2019, Plenty Canada will be able to host monthly canoe expeditions with groups of youth. These canoe days will begin at the Plenty Canada office with teachings from Indigenous elders on the history and cultural significance of the canoe, wild rice, Indigenous teachings on environmental stewardship, and a crash course on canoe safety and protocols. The groups of youth will be taken on a guided tour of McCulloch’s Mud Lake (a provincially significant wetland), where they will be actively engaged in the experience of enjoying nature through the canoe. The tours will be led by Indigenous elders, who will share teachings throughout the day on the plants and animals within and surrounding the wetland, Indigenous wild rice conservation efforts, and best practices on engaging with and respecting our environment. At the end of each canoe day, they will have a traditional Algonquin feast at the Plenty Canada office, and an opportunity to debrief on the day and have the youth share their thoughts on what they have learned, and ask any questions they may have.
Opportunities such as this are instrumental in healthy youth development. Being able to enjoy the outdoors and develop an appreciation for nature and physical activity is of incredible importance to this age group. The Algonquin canoe teaches us that we are part of nature, not separate from it. Species diversity, the connectedness of land and water, and our responsibilities to all life are lessons to be conveyed to youth in the canoe days.