Swan Bay Rediscovery

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Swan Bay Rediscovery

Haida Gwaii, CanadaSkidegate, Canada
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Canoe Journeys seeks to empower at-risk Haida youth to learn cultural skills and to embrace their cultural heritage to empower themselves.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Haida Gwaii is composed of 7 small, remote communities where healthy and engaging opportunities for youth are limited. Persons under 30 represent 45% of the islands population of 4,500 persons, and many are at risk of drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and suicide. With increasing rates of obesity, low self-esteem, and lack of engagement among youth, especially of Aboriginal descent, programs such as Rediscovery are essential. Haida Gwaii is a prime location for getting outdoors, on the water and learning Haida cultural skills but many youth do not have the resources to access these opportunities. Further, a lack of education around healthy activities such as food gathering, exercise and nutrition leads to multiple negative outcomes which impound issues such as intergenerational trauma.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Swan Bay Rediscovery is offering year long culturally relevant curriculum to at-risk highschool students through a program called Canoe Journeys. Canoe Journeys teaches drug and alcohol abuse prevention, healthy relationships, learning and sharing about mental health issues, and builds self-confidence through culturally relevant programming. The program follows the seasons, in the fall helping nursery schoolers to gather bog cranberries and mushrooms and learning how to preserve them with Elders. Students each make an Ancestry book and gather songs and stories from their clans to fill these books. Students also made drums and painted their crests on them, just as they sewed their own button blankets with their crests. The journey finales with an 8 day Canoe Journey through Gwaii Haanas Nat'l Park, where the youth paddle an 80 foot Haida canoe steered by an Elder to historic village sites. In the canoe are youth mentors and an RCMP representative to serve as positive role models.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Our program targets youth between 14 and 18 years old, in particular youth who have demonstrated at-risk tendencies such as: extended school absences, identified mental health issues, lack of positive family support, drug and alcohol abuse and other such issues. Canoe Journeys is offered 2 to 3 times a week, and our engaging activities draw youth in to participate. We teach skills such as food gathering and preservation that youth can use in their everyday lives and that empower them to give to their families and communities. An example of this is when youth learned to assemble (hang) an entire river fishing net for the tradition food fishery river. Elders and professional fishermen taught the youth, and then the fish caught was donated to the Elders Day Program in Skidegate.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Youth engagement activities are limited on Haida Gwaii, especially those targeting Haida youth and addressing the issues that are covered in Canoe Journeys. There is no similar programming available to youth on Haida Gwaii. There are no in-school counselors available to youth, and community mental health facilities do not target youth. In such a small community, the Canoe Journeys program is innovative and unique in its approach to youth engagement.

Founding Story

Rediscovery was developed as a summer youth camp targeting at-risk Aboriginal youth with a vision of getting youth into a remote camp location where they had to depend on the Haida cultural and outdoors skills they learned to survive. Food fishing, hunting, gathering, playing cooperative games, and talking circles around a fire, are only a few of the activities that youth participate in at Swan Bay Rediscovery Camp, and the overall camp experience builds confidence to last a lifetime. This experience though was only offered in the summertime, and in a northern climate where nights are long and winters are grey and rainy, it is important to offer year round activities to at risk youth, which is where the idea for Canoe Journeys was born.
About You
Swan Bay Rediscovery Program
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Swan Bay Rediscovery Program

Organization Country

, BC, Skidegate

Country where this solution is creating social impact

, BC, Haida Gwaii

Region in BC where your solution creates social impact

Northern British Columbia.

How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..

How long have you been in operation?

Operating for more than 5 years

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your solution addresses? Choose up to two

Access, Cost, Quality.

Social Impact
Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve

Our goal is to empower youth to be confident in who they are and to make a positive contribution to their communities. By providing youth with positive activities we hope to build their self-esteem so that they look after themselves and their communities with respect.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

Canoe Journeys has reached out to 10 at-risk youth in Queen Charlotte Secondary School this year, and has also benefited many community members through programming open to the public. Almost every class session is attended by Elders and/or community cultural facilitators who are well-known to students and provide guidance on topics at all levels.

What is your projected impact over the next five years?

If each year at-risk Aboriginal youth are impacted by the Canoe Journeys program then over time we will see a more healthy youth population in Haida Gwaii. These youth grow to be community leaders and positive role models for other youth. A decrease in drug and alcohol use, suicide attempts, increased physical activity and healthier eating habits are all outcomes that we expect to see as a result of our programming.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

Because the program is only offered during the day, youth are also at risk in evenings and on weekends. At these times we hope to offer evening community activities to community members and to youth.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

By December, youth will have begun their Canoe Journey and are beginning to gain confidence in the program and in themselves

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Youth have completed harvesting and hunting in the fall season, learning skills and gaining experience from Elders

Task 2

Youth are sharing and participating in learning about mental health issues, drug and alcohol prevention

Task 3

Youth are engaging in self-exploration by sharing with their peers and with Elders and Cultural Facilitators

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Youth have participated in an 8 day canoe journey in remote Gwaii Haanas and have gained confidence

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Youth have the opportunity to participate in the 8 day canoe journey through Gwaii Haanas

Task 2

Youth have completed their button blankets, drums, and other cultural items and activities

Task 3

Youth have completed their Ancestry books and have gained self-confidence through this self- and family-exploration

Tell us about your partnerships

Haida Gwaii is a tight-knit community where it is said that "everything depends on everything else." This saying applies to our programming as well, and we partner with the school district, the high school, the Skidegate Band Council and many other community organizations to help facilitate our programs.

Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your solution? If so, where and why?

Yes, we are targeting Haida youth because of well known facts that
Aboriginal youth are a more at-risk population.

What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?

We bring the youth outside of the classroom to the local museum and Haida Heritage Centre for mentoring projects with Haida Fine Arts students. We also take full advantage of the outdoors in Haida Gwaii and get youth out on the beaches, up the rivers and in the woods for our activities.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list