After a thrilling trip in last fall, the ICA Youth and Family Services team set sail again on the high seas with the help of Eagle Wing Tours and the Greater Victoria NatureHood. After a year of online programming, our youth and families were ready to get their hands and feet wet while helping to keep our oceans clean for future generations.
On a blustery Monday morning, twenty-five youth, parents and volunteers gathered at Fisherman’s Wharf to set sail on Eagle Wing Tour’s sturdiest vessel, 4 Ever Wild.
Our tour took us east of Victoria, to Tl’ches, also known as the Discovery Islands. Tl’ches is one of the last locations in the Songhees homelands that remains almost as it was nearly 200 years ago. The islands and marine areas are important to the Songhees people, where they practice cultivating Indigenous plants, fishing and clam gardens. Tl’ches was also home to Takaya, the lone sea wolf who made the islands his home. As our boat rounded the shores of the islands, we were able to see a mural painted along the side of the light house in his honour.
To complement the splendor of our day at sea, we wanted to connect our ICA families with opportunities to help preserve our ocean ecosystems. Our group met at Ogden Point with tour guides and researchers from Eagle Wing Tours and Greater Victoria NatureHood to learn about the impact of microplastics. Youth collected over four large bags full of garbage, with cigarette butts, styrofoam containers, and miscellaneous plastic pieces making up the bulk of our “finds”.
While youth were disappointed to see so much garbage on their local beach, they felt a sense of accomplishment to be a part of the solution. “It was surprising, because the plastic was hard to see,” said one youth. “It’s important to keep our environment clean so future people can enjoy it too.”
Many were astounded to learn that it takes over 400 years for plastic to breakdown. Once it has broken down, plastic remains a danger to our ecosystems as microscopic particles.
“As humans, we aren’t outside of the environment,” says Gita John-Iyam, Youth and Family Services Coordinator. “We are the environment. We want to show our youth we can’t think our actions are outside of it.”
To process what we learned, and to share our message to keep our oceans clean, our group mapped out the shape of a female humpback whale out of driftwood. Seen from above along Dallas Road, the whale aimed to show that even small pieces of plastic can impact humongous animals like whales. Our youth wanted to share their message with the community that we all have a responsibility to keep our oceans clean.
We are extremely grateful to all the volunteers, staff and supporters who made our trip a success. Many of our older ICA Youth gave up their days off to join in the fun and connect with younger youth who are also new to Canada. We are excited for future opportunities to build community through opportunities like this to keep our natural spaces clean and healthy for future generations.
To learn more about the Youth and Family Services team, visit our website for more details.
To learn more about the Greater Victoria NatureHood, visit their website here.