This past week I passed the milestone of my 9th anniversary of joining the staff at CPAWS Wildlands League. As the date approached I found myself fondly reflecting on my career, and why I’ve chosen to dedicate my efforts to supporting our amazing team.
The work we do on the front lines of conservation efforts in Ontario and across Canada is important. Supporting them through administration is just as important. You hold down the fort while the team travels to Moose Cree to talk about protecting their homeland. You’re prepared to spring into action 24/7 if something goes wrong while the team travels to Peawanuk. You post pictures and relay stories, like the effects of early exploration that were found while on that flight to Peawanuck. You set up meetings. You plan events. You make sure the bills are paid and that the staff get paid too.
But for all the excitement I witness and share, those aren’t the reasons I’ve stayed at my post all these years. It’s the little things.
- The letters we receive from school children, who used our website for a project, and took the time to write to us to thank us for protecting caribou;
- The donor who calls to make a donation, inspired by our desire to help youth connect with nature by learning to paddle in the Rouge. She thinks it’s the perfect gift for her husband, and I can’t help but agree;
- The elderly man who stops to listen to your pitch at an art fair, and at the end of his walk about comes back to give you all the change in his pocket, because he believes in what you are doing, and he thanks you for it. He leaves you with tears in your eyes and a lump in your throat;
- The young girl, at the same art fair, who toured the whole place and came back to put her money towards buying our stuffed fox;
- The poster we received from a group of kids at a Catholic school in Toronto, who took to the steps of the church at lunch time “Singing for CPAWS”, collecting change to make a donation to us after having us in for a talk in their classroom;
- The action taken by a single person who cares and started a petition to protect the North French River, that’s gathered more than 10,000 signatures in a week; and,
It’s the smile on the face of my young friend Kevish, a new immigrant from India, who came to Paddle the Rouge last year with his family. Kevish and his brother took part in Learn to Paddle, and had never had a nature experience like this in Canada. Seeing Kevish transform before my eyes, from a little shy and nervous when he arrived, to sitting up proudly in his canoe with his instructor Emma, and then racing up to me afterwards, asking if he could go back out in a kayak was worth every ounce of hard work and worrying about the success of the event.
So, as the nine year mark passes and I look ahead, I can’t help but smile. I might not be on the front lines forming new policy, or flying in helicopters watching caribou run free, or talking to government and industry but I know that the work that I do to support our team is also important. The gifts I receive, those little things, fuel me to help make our world a better place.