Former Youth Ambassadors
Words from past youth ambassadors
"In this job, you represent Parks Canada, in Canada. It’s a big job but a very creative one where you have to bridge gap. You have to be able to imagine a bridge between stories and places and the hearths and minds of young people in Canada… and then build a bridge!"
- George Woodhouse (2014-2015)
"It’s like being a cheerleader for Canada’s most magical places. I’ve learned so much about our country and I grew in every direction possible thanks to the experiences I got to live as a youth ambassador."
- Minh-Tâm Thompson (2015-2016)
"Being a PCYA means getting to learn and share how youth, all over the country connect with nature."
- Sahej Kaur (2018-2019)
"Having had this role has definitely impacted my life. It has opened a door for me to pursue a career at Parks Canada and I feel so lucky to still work for the Agency today."
- Alais Nevert-Boudou (2012-2013)
"Now, when I walk around the parks, I’m much more conscious about the impact I have and all the work that is behind a place so rich in both history and nature."
- Gabrielle Morissette (2019-2020)
"Being a PCYA means being an advocate for your community and the natural environment. Also trying to make PC places more accessible for Canada’s youth."
- Joe McLeod (2018-2019)
My name is Catherine, I am 18 years old, I am from Lorraine in Quebec and I am one of the youngest in the history of the youth ambassadors! However, my age does not mean inexperience, on the contrary. I have seen a lot of our country and that is why I am excited to share my stories with you and create new ones.
I am currently completing a bachelor's degree in marketing at the University of Ottawa, where I get involved in campus life by organizing entrepreneurial events and creating social enterprises. When I have free time, I enjoy taking photos, reading, playing the piano and skiing!
Interesting fact: I've never been on a plane in my life! But, when I was 11, my parents decided to leave Quebec to travel across Canada with a camper to live for a year in Revelstoke, British Columbia. This is really where I started to understand how lucky we were to have so many beautiful landscapes in Canada and how important it was to conserve them (and since then I have had a huge crush on Parka)! I love discovering our country and sharing my knowledge: being a Parks Canada Youth ambassador suits my curious nature perfectly!
Hope to see you this summer, somewhere in Canada ... or at home on my screen, crossing my fingers to be able to travel soon!
My name is Fawn (yes, like a baby deer). I am currently studying Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa, with hopes to major in Political Science and minor in Gender Studies or Cultural Anthropology. When I am not writing, or grumbling about politics, I am either getting lost in the woods, looking up a new recipe to try out for dinner, or trying to keep up with the latest meme culture.
Before I leave this beautiful planet, I hope to see the natural beauty Canada’s provinces and territories have to offer. I have the territories, Saskatchewan and Manitoba left on my list with goals of seeing the Northern Lights in a post-COVID future. I might be bias because I am from Nova Scotia and have family there, but Cape Breton Island is still my number one destination in Canada. Thus far, that is.
Now that the ice is broken, let’s get a little more personal. Beyond my name, nature is a part of who I am. The physical, the mental, and the spiritual benefits nature has offered me has fuelled my passion to work within the outdoor sector to promote these advantages to others. After a few years of working in the sector, however, I realized that there is a need for more tangible inclusion and diversity work within such spaces in Canada. Having the opportunity to be a youth ambassador for Parks Canada is a dream come true for me. With this privilege, I hope to use this opportunity to amplify the voices and visibility of youth who are ready to be heard and seen!
I am ecstatic to absorb more knowledge about Canada’s history through Parks and answer a lifelong question: What makes Canadians feel Canadian? I anticipate a lot of listening and reflection throughout my time as a Parks Canada Youth Ambassador. With all that said, I will be sure to let you know what I find!
Until then, Canada.
My name is Mahnoor and I am back for the third year working as a student with Parks Canada! I am currently a student at Ryerson University and am going into my 4th year of the Public Health and Safety program this upcoming fall. With the big turn of events in the last year or so, it has been a very interesting virtual experience! Although I study right in between the busy city hustle, I live with my family in the quiet suburbs of Pickering, Ontario. My love for the outdoors began on the salty beaches and warm weather picnics as a kid when my family was previously living in Jacksonville, Florida before moving to Canada in 2007. Within the next few years, I am hoping to take my knowledge in public health and make connections between human health and the environment. In my free time I love to kayak along the Rouge River and have movie nights with my family.
The opportunity to be this year’s Parks Canada Youth Ambassador is a privilege. I am hoping to reach out to thousands of youth across Canada and share my experiences, all while trying to shatter any barriers between people and green spaces. It is important to me that I take all the opportunities I get and make the most of them. These moments are most valuable when they can be shared with others. This year, I am thrilled to be sharing them with all of you!
Blake Correia (he/him), Oakville (ON), Western University – Bachelor of Kinesiology
My name is Blake and I like all things new: experiences, places, people, culture… you name it! In life, I have found it is crucial to make the most of every opportunity you have, because you never know if it will present itself again. This motto has taken me on some crazy adventures and allowed me to develop a strong appreciation for our beautiful country.
As someone who is passionate about science and history, I am currently completing my undergraduate degree in kinesiology and archaeology at Western University. This has allowed me the opportunity to work with Parks Canada last summer and develop a unique perspective on our ecological and cultural heritage. When I am not studying or working, I love to take trips, get outdoors, and spend some quality time with friends.
Parks Canada sites have always held a special place in my heart. Whether it be family kayaking in Gros Morne or visiting National Historic Sites, I have learned that you are always guaranteed to have an amazing time, while gaining something new in the process. I am thrilled to be experiencing and sharing our Parks Canada Places with YOU this summer, and meeting YOU all along the way.
Anna Kobylansky, (she/her), Toronto (ON), Queen’s University – Bachelor of Kinesiology
I’m Anna. From a very early age, I have been inspired by the great outdoors. I’ve spent a lot of time canoeing and biking in Algonquin Park, hiking in Jasper, Banff, and even Germany, and exploring the scenery our beautiful country has to offer! There is nothing like sitting by a campfire, surrounded by trees, making some good old mac and cheese, and watching a sunset. Who knew that something so simple could bring me so much joy? I am constantly looking for new adventures and places to explore and can't wait to share this passion with you all!
I’m currently studying Kinesiology at Queen’s University, starting my 4th year in the fall. When I’m not learning about anatomy or lifting weights, you can probably find me watching movies, going to CFL games (GO ARGOS), enjoying the outdoors, volunteering in my community, and making the most out of my university experience. I also love photography and creating videos, and can’t wait to share the incredible moments that will be captured this summer.
This is going to be an epic adventure and I’m so excited we get to experience it together!
See you out there Canada!
Pierre-Olivier Bouchard (he/him), Gatineau (QC) - Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (from May to July 2020)
My name is Pierre-Olivier, but on the day I was born, I was almost named ti-gars. It's a long story that I hope to get the chance to tell you around a campfire this summer. Indeed, for me, a perfect evening consists of embers, stars and long conversations that end at sunrise. These are the moments that ignite my passion for the outdoors and inspire me to go to the four corners of Canada to meet you as a youth ambassador.
I am 19 years old and studying physical education in Trois-Rivières, a small town in Quebec on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. So, my mission for the next few years will be to set up outdoor programs for teenagers and young adults in schools. More than anything, I want to pass on this passion I have for nature and adventure to the next generation. I see this as a perfect link between the health of our land and that of young Canadians, a winning recipe for the future.
Now that all is said, my backpack awaits me, as always, at the foot of my front door, ready to experience all kinds of new adventures this summer. I hope you will join us in discovering Park Canada places: harvesting one memory at a time.
Izabella Balcerzak (she/her), Toronto (ON), Ryerson University
As I take another step, I plunge 6ft deeper into the snow, taking the next 10 minutes to dig myself out. After a long day of glacier trekking with the friends I made during my cadet expedition out in Banff National park, I realize that being 5ft 3 can come with challenges–but it does make for a good story! These are the types of memories that keep me coming back to the outdoors: great times with great people and nothing but great vibes, in whatever weather Canada throws our way. Whether it was through the army cadet program, working on the Parks Canada Urban Outreach team, road tripping with strangers in New Zealand or planning my own hikes, I find myself itching to start the next adventure that makes for the next story.
Growing up as the child of Polish immigrants, I realize how important accessible information is, especially to those communities that don’t have access to the typical “Canadian experience”. Working at my campus newspaper and as a tour director in Quebec and Ontario taught me a lot about giving those communities a platform and hearing them out.
My life philosophy is simple–dance it out! I’m a big fan of having fun (like running a marathon and belting out Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off to get through it) or signing up for that free aqua fit class in your community. As a recent graduate from Ryerson University in Professional Communication, I’m excited to take all that I learned and apply it to the work we’ll be doing this summer with Canada’s youth across our sites and parks. Everyone (and every place) has a story worth telling, and I can’t wait to be a part of that journey!
Gabrielle Morissette (she/her), Québec (QC), Laval University
Bonjour! My name is Gabrielle and I have a lucky star. She guides me in all sorts of exciting and incredible situations, such as being one of the three Youth Ambassadors for Parks Canada. My backpack is ready and my head is already bursting with ideas. I cannot wait to begin this journey!
I am challenging myself to dare, to explore different avenues and to seek out-of-the-ordinary encounters. I do not hesitate to get involved in new projects that will broaden my horizons! My curiosity is insatiable and I find myself fascinated by everything. This explains, among other things, why I am finishing my degree in journalism at Laval University. Without doubt, this is also my motivation for hosting Quebec community radio shows, for performing contemporary dance and in musicals, for travelling and, time and time again, for diving into the unknown. I have the privilege of being able to do what I want!
I am from Quebec City and I still live there. I look forward to discovering Parks Canada places, to learning from those I meet, and to making myself useful. I like having the opportunity to participate in an extraordinary and rewarding project: we are so lucky to live here and to be surrounded by all these treasures, and we must enjoy it!
Nathan Creighton-Kelly (he/him), Victoria (BC), Carleton University
From an early age I have had a profound appreciation for Canada’s natural landscape; my siblings and I were raised on Vancouver Island and had the opportunity to explore all the natural wonders of the West Coast.
My passion for adventure has taken me as far as Italy and Fiji, where I got to meet amazing people and experience different ways of life. My father is a first-generation immigrant from India and my mother is of Québécois and Mohawk descent. My mixed heritage gives me unique perspective on Canada’s diverse natural and cultural heritage.
Currently I am studying architecture at Carleton University; this degree has allowed me to pursue my passion for design while also being able to explore the theoretical aspects of Canada’s built, cultural and natural landscape. When I am not studying you can find me biking, playing the drums, or snapping photos! I am humbled to be one of your 2019 Parks Canada Youth Ambassadors and am excited to explore the diverse beauty this country has to offer!
Sahej Kaur, Ottawa (ON), 19, University of Ottawa
Hi! My name’s Sahej (like badge with an S), and believe it or not, I’ve never been to a Canadian national park! Over the years, I’ve travelled to historical sites all over the world, but every time I come back, I have a renewed sense of appreciation for Canada and its amazing people. As a tour guide on Parliament Hill for Canada’s 150th birthday, I had the opportunity to meet Canadians from around the country and learn a little bit about them and the places they’re from. This summer, I’m so excited to reverse roles and get to explore some of their hometowns.
I’ve always been a bit of a dabbler, this has taken me from teaching at a mermaid school, to playing percussion in an orchestra, to trying to perfect a pull-up at the CrossFit gym. I think this attitude is what led me to an interdisciplinary degree in health sciences in my hometown, at the University of Ottawa. Here, I’ve been able to examine the deep connection between human health and nature. This relationship is something I can’t wait to explore in our national parks (and outside of a textbook)! So, for all of us who may be a bit newer to Canada’s Parks, I hope you’ll join me on this journey! Cheers to all the adventures and the great tan lines to come!
Joe McLeod, Keswick (ON), 21, Queen's University
My name is Joe McLeod and I am from a small town in Ontario called Keswick. My favorite word in the English language is “experience” but not as in work experience, rather ‘’experience’’ as in experiencing everything life has to offer! I am a firm believer in trying new things, facing fears and having fun along the way! I have always loved the outdoors and therefore took every chance I could to travel anywhere that was possible! This gave me the opportunity to travel Europe and live in England for a year BUT my favorite place in the world is still here in Canada!
When I am not travelling, I am working towards completing a double major in Global Development and Film (be prepared for goofy videos) at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. When I am not busy with school I am playing music! I have played guitar for over ten years and am currently in the process of recording my first album! I had the amazing opportunity of working for Parks Canada last summer and I cannot wait to share the experience this summer with Canada’s youth! I want to show all of Canada that anybody can do these amazing things but more importantly that everyone climbs a different size mountain – all you have to do is decide which one to climb!
“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” – Edmund Hillary
Eva Wu, Toronto (ON), 20, from McGill University
Hey Canada! My name’s Eva, and I’m a goofy, silly person who loves to feel sunshine on my face and salt breeze in my hair. Growing up, my family embraced the uplifting powers of uber-spontaneous road trips and good, long hikes to learn about new and exciting places. Since then, I have grown to be a firm believer in nature’s ability to soothe my mind and soul, so there’s no doubt that you can find me dragging those I love into the wilderness in search of our next epic adventure. When I’m not on the road, you can catch me in Montréal where I (at least try to) study Renewable Resource Management at McGill University.
As a visual artist, sharing the stories of our people and natural heritage through numerous forms of media brings me the upmost joy. I like to think that using my art to convey the voices of our youth and elders who are wiser than I enables me to learn how to become a better ambassador. So, during the Canada 150+ summer, I am honoured to have the opportunity to collaborate with youth of all backgrounds to spread our nation’s past, present, and future stories.
Kim Mathieu, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu (QC), 21, from Simon Fraser University
I was born in St-Jean Sur Richelieu, QC, a small town which is known for launching thousands of hot air balloons over the flat farmland of the eastern townships every August. I was raised by an artist (mom) and a teacher (dad) who both taught me to be curious about the world and to see beauty in its formations. Like most people my age, I am constantly looking for adventure and places to travel to. At first, I believed that I could only satisfy that curiosity by traveling as far away from Canada as I could imagine. This took me across the world but when I started my bachelors degree in Environmental sciences at McGill University, it was my short weekend trips which revealed the most fascinating people and landscapes.
My work with Parks Canada has since taken me to the ecologically diverse islands of Mingan National Park Reserve, QC, polar bear country in Torngat Mountains National Park, NL, the historic Rogers Pass in Glacier National Park, BC and many other incredible sites. Along the way I found my second family, the Parks family, with whom I shared goofy smiles, sunburnt skin, deep blisters, campfire stories and lasting friendships. I am beyond excited to explore more world-class beauties this year and share these silly stories with you.
I am looking forward to crossing paths on the trails, around a campsite, in your city or inside an old fortress. I welcome you to share with me and Eva your love for Canada, and to help us give it its most spectacular birthday!
Explore some of Kim and Eva's favourite destinations.
Nick Harrison, Ottawa (ON), 19, from Queen's University
Hey! I'm Nick, 19 years old hailing from Ottawa but living in Kingston. I can most often be found running on anything but pavement, skiing down hills and up them, and wearing mismatched socks. I have two younger brothers, who I can always count on to keep things interesting and put a grin on my face. My love for the outdoors was sparked at some point between the day I made my first s'more back in '03 and the day I decided to move to the middle of the woods and plant trees for a living last summer.
I've found that there are three things in life you can depend on: the immensity of the mountains, the vastness of the night sky and the calm of the woods. From canoeing through Algonquin Park and the ZEC Kipawa, to biking in Jasper and skiing in the Rockies, the experiences I have had in Canada's back country have shaped the person I am today. I'm incredibly stoked to have the chance this summer to share my love for the outdoors with all of you, and believe that together we can shape a future in which our wild parks and iconic history continue to thrive, defining this beautiful country and the people in it. This summer let's take a hike, catch a wave, climb a face, run the rapids and beat the drum. As a hero of mine, Christopher McCandless, once wrote: "Just get out and do it. You will be very, very glad you did". See you on the trails!
Beckham Evans, Windsor (ON), 20, from Thompson Rivers University
My name is Beckham and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share Canada's national parks and historic sites with all of you this summer. I was raised in Windsor Ontario, just an hour away from the most southern tip of Canada; Point Pelee National Park. Point Pelee was my Mom's go-to place to take my sister and I to escape the city and hike a wooded trail or have a picnic on the sandy beach. My passion for the outdoors really sparked when I joined the Royal Canadian Army Cadets and got involved in the expedition program. Cadets took me all over Canada from mountain biking in Banff to paddling the Petawawa River.
For the past two years I have been attending Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops BC in the Adventure Program. That feeling of getting outside and connecting with nature is indescribable. There is always something to discover out there and sometimes it can even be within yourself. Canada is an incredible country just waiting for us to explore its rich culture, breathtaking mountains, and never ending trails. I cannot wait to get out and experience Canada's parks with you!
Minh-Tâm Thompson, Kitchener (ON), 21, from McGill University
My name is Minh-Tâm, or Minh for short! I was born and raised in Kitchener, Ontario but have been living in Montreal for the past three years. While in Montreal I've managed to smile through the cold and embrace the heat, plus study some cool things in Anthropology and Environmental Studies at McGill University. I still burn my marshmallows on the campfire and have yet to pitch a tent stress-free, but what I lack in experience, I make up for in clichés.
Growing up as the middle child, I've always had that itch to get out and explore. Luckily my parents made outdoor adventures a priority, and some of my best memories are from times spent visiting Canada's amazing parks and sites. This summer as a Youth Ambassador I've scored the ultimate exploring privileges, and I can't wait to take this journey with other young Canadians! It's impossible to describe how excited and inspired I am by the greatness of Canada; there's no doubt we're about to make some amazing memories.
Justin Fisch, Waverley (NS), 25, from McGill University
It would be hard to forget my first trip to a national park: eight years old, visiting the West for the first time, alone on a trip with Mom for the week (a tough feat with three younger brothers in the house). We stayed in Lake Louise, exploring the beauty of Banff National Park. On our second day in the park, Mom decided we make our way up Mt Fairview, a "leisurely" 10-km hike upwards over a 450-metre elevation. Sounded great! Unfortunately, I bit off a bit more than I could chew. A measly 500 metres from the summit, I abandoned the trip, asserting I would not walk one more foot up the rotten trail. That fit lasted but five minutes, as Mom baited me with a KitKat bar, promising the chocolaty reward if I reached the peak. I don't think I've run faster since.
Since that day, I have had the privilege of visiting parks in dozens of countries, making the greatest of connections along the way. This year, I look forward to getting to know young Canadians from throughout the country, and helping to shape our collective narrative of conservation in this country. With one of the most dynamic and diverse systems of parks in the world, Canada's national park system is under visited, undervalued, and most of all, underexplored. Join me as we shape the story of our parks for the millennial generation.
Lindsay Little from Stirling (ON), 24, from McGill University
I am eagerly awaiting all of the adventures that we will have this summer in Canada's National Parks and Historic Sites! I am passionate about the power of my generation, and believe that the sites of Parks Canada provide new and exciting opportunities to get to know our beautiful country. I want to show that visiting national parks and historic sites is the best way to complement the urban lifestyle lived by most twenty-somethings, and to disprove stereotypes about who can be a "Parks" person! I will strive to meet as many other young people as I can, and to help them plan their own local and national adventures.
I was raised on a farm outside Stirling, Ontario and am now studying Law at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. I have completed an undergraduate degree in Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa. Although I grew up camping in parks across the country, I have spent the vast majority of my time over the past five years longingly looking out the windows of school libraries. I am very excited for the opportunity to get out of the day-to-day routine and experience nature and history alongside other millennials! Whether it is by biking, jogging, picnicking or other, I can't wait for the chance to explore Parks Canada places.
George Woodhouse from Owen Sound (ON), 24, from Dalhousie University
My name is George and I'm proud to hail from Owen Sound, Ontario - not to be confused with Bobby Orr's hometown of Parry Sound, Ontario. In 2009, my whole family piled into our car and drove me across five provinces to Halifax, Nova Scotia where I began studying French and Sociology at Dalhousie University.
Five years later, I can say for certain that I've fallen in love with the east coast where I've made golden friends from around the world. When I wasn't studying I was usually busy working on different musical projects with other students. Thus my passion became writing songs and filming videos. In 2010, I became acquainted with Parks Canada after winning a national video contest for a music video I made with a friend. It was an enviro-rap video called "Tales from da Trailz" about Newfoundland's Gros Morne National park. I had never actually been to Newfoundland, so we filmed most of the video Point Pleasant city park.
Nonetheless, my love for this country grew and the following summer, I worked as a student for Parks Canada and composed "The Parka Song" for the agency's official beaver mascot. This summer as the Youth Ambassadors, Lindsay and I are ready to do whatever it takes to expose the cool factor of Parks Canada to young Canadians. Our methods may be unconventional but our mission is simple. Spread the Parks Canada love.
Colin Sutherland from Ottawa (ON), 24, from University of British Columbia
There is nothing like travelling to the country's best National Parks and Historic Sites after finishing your undergrad. I can confidently say that this past summer I had the best summer job in Canada.
Having the chance to meet people from across the country and explore Canada's rich natural and cultural heritage is the opportunity of a lifetime. I had the opportunity to take on responsibilities and learn skills not necessarily related to my major in Geography. I've had a chance to see the variety of work that goes on in Parks Canada from meeting underwater archeologists, exploring with Bear guardians, to speaking with our media relations department.
This summer has given me the chance to really dive into what it means to share our National Parks and Historic Sites and how important it is to share these places with my generation.
Julia Belliveau, from Sussex (NB), 19, from Carleton University
It has been an incredible adventure travelling to places in Canada I never even dreamed of visiting! Besides having the best summer ever, I gained invaluable experience as a Parks Canada Youth Ambassador for my prospective career in international business. I have improved my communication abilities from doing interviews with the media and delivering presentations to various audiences. I have expanded skills necessary for taking initiative, networking, collaborating and developing new ideas. I tried new activities like snorkeling with seals and hiking in the Rockies. Most importantly, I met truly unforgettable people and forged friendships to last a lifetime. I knew I possessed a passion for travelling, but I didn't realize the significance of travelling in Canada. As Canadians, we have an amazing country and I encourage everyone to explore it.
Alaïs Nevert from Montreal (QC), 21, from Capilano University
Few 21 year old students can claim that their "everyday work" can include giving a presentation to the CEO of their company one day and camping in the Pacific Coastal rain forest the next.
As a student in film studies and hoping to work in the nature documentary industry it's easy to imagine how a job that involves travelling to Parks Canada places could be beneficial; the Parks Canada Youth Ambassador position gave me more than that. Networking, organizing, researching; the many facets of the job helped me develop new skills that I now apply on a daily basis.
The experience I gained through this position will help me move forward with my career. I know that the places I visited and the landscapes that I witnessed are now memories that I will carry forever.
Michael Ciniello from Mississauga (ON), 23, from Western University
The experiences and knowledge I have gained through my term as a Parks Canada Youth Ambassador have been invaluable. Not only did I have the chance to see some of the most amazing places across Canada and work with a group of passionate young leaders who really care about their job, but I also had the opportunity to develop a diverse variety of professional skills. From working with the media, coordinating our own PR campaigns, creating the ideas and foundations for new projects, as well as giving presentations to senior management, the Ambassador program has allowed me to develop abilities that will give me a leg up in any job that I chose to tackle next.
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