Award Winning Canadian Naturalist and Photographer Coming to Merritt BC

Oct 3, 2022

Award Winning Canadian Naturalist and Photographer Coming to Merritt BC
Dr. Sonya Richmond and Sean Morton are currently in the midst of hiking across Canada along the 28,000 km long Trans Canada Trail (formerly the Great Trail), (www.comewalkwithus.online) sharing ways for youth to get outdoors and reconnect with nature through hiking, birding, and Citizen Science involvement. So far in over 525 days we have hiked almost 13,000 km from Cape Spear Newfoundland across 9 provinces entering into British Columbia on the Trans Canada Trail !

My name is Dr. Sonya Richmond from Sechelt BC. Until recently I was a GIS Analyst assisting in the development of Provincial Bird Atlases for Bird Studies Canada, and an Ornithological Researcher for the Canadian Wildlife Service. In 2019 I left my job, sold my house and donated my possessions to fund a planned hike of 28,000 km across Canada along the world’s longest pathway, the Trans Canada Trail. We started in Cape Spear, NL on June 1st 2019 and we are walking west to Victoria, BC, and then venturing north from Fort Saskatchewan to Tuktoyaktuk, NT. While few others have made this trek in its entirety, none have done so for a cause and with the primary purpose of promoting diversity and accessibility outdoors while striving to get youth engaged with and connected to nature.

En route we emphasize the many opportunities available for becoming active participants in the vibrant outdoor recreation, conservation, and Community Science organizations across Canada. Our focus is on connecting families and youth to nature through birding, promoting healthy active lifestyles, and inspiring a passion to become lifelong explorers, outdoor enthusiasts, and sustainable stewards of the nation’s resources. A major focus of our walk is get a diverse range of youth active and involved in experiential education opportunities in their own backyards and communities. Research has shown that engagement with nature helps develop healthy, independent, confident and creative individuals who have the self-awareness, communication and critical thinking skills, as well as the creativity necessary to make meaningful contributions to their communities. We believe that birding can be a key means to connecting a youth to nature and a way to focus their online activities. In addition we want to remind Canadian Youth regardless of their circumstances, cultural background or identity that with hard work and determination inspiring achievements, wondrous discoveries and amazing innovations are possible – one step at a time. We are a big and great nation capable of so much and we hope to remind the people of our country of its diversity, natural wonders and potential.

Over the course of our trek we are inviting all people across Canada to 'Come Walk With Us', either by joining us for a few kilometers on the trail, by following our progress online, or by asking us to give a presentation. We intend to share a positive message aimed at encouraging and inspiring youth to focus their online and screen time toward becoming Community Scientists, to experience the benefits and rewards of spending time in nature, and to become lifelong explorers and protectors of important natural areas. We have give free presentations and talks in hundreds of classrooms across the country delivering unique, positive, accessible, experiential learning opportunities aimed at connecting students and families to nature through birding, and we do our best to lead by example and inspire through passion. As we trek we are also be collecting publishable scientific data to aid Graduate Students, Researchers, Explorers, Businesses, and Industries continue to better understand people’s connection to nature. In addition to which we hope to connect with Indigenous and Northern Communities to further explore how traditional perspectives and scientific research might complement one another to foster new opportunities and strengthen our common aspirations.
To date we have been advised by colleagues in the Canadian Explorer’s Club, collaborated with the Trans Canada Trail organization and have partnered with groups such as Nature Newfoundland, the Island Nature Trust, Nature New Brunswick, Bird Protection Quebec / Protection des oiseaux du Quebec, and Parks Canada throughout the Maritimes as well as Ontario Nature, Nature Alberta and Can Geo Education. The efforts of this endeavour, have led myself to become a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society as well as be supported as an official flag carrying RCGS Expedition. And this is just the beginning, as we visit more than 15,000 communities along the trail, we have given and plan to continue offer free presentations to schools, hiking clubs, naturalist organizations, school groups, Boy Scouts / Girl Guides, Seniors Residences, local media outlets, and any other interested parties to share our message about Canada’s natural spaces and the need for local engagement to conserve them with new audiences. To date the story of our preparations and trek have been reported on the CBC, BirdWatch, Explorersweb, TravelMagazines.com, SiriusXM, Birdwatch Magazine, the St. John’s Telegram, the Coast Reporter, Ontario Nature’s Magazine, online via the Science Blog Dispatches from the Field, The Trans Canada Trail's social media, Royal Canadian Geographic Society online, international hiking, travel, and birding Podcasts, as well as a number of regional radio broadcasts and Global TV across Canada.

In 2021 and 2022 owing to our efforts we have received a generous letter of support from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, been announced as a finalist for the Canadian Museum of Nature's Nature Inspiration Award, was awarded the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s prestigious Stan Hodgkiss Canadian Outdoorsperson of the Year, and was named by the Universal Women’s Network as one of Canada’s Inspirational Women for promoting diversity in the outdoors, advocating increased accessibility to nature and striving inspire youth to reconnect to the nation’s wildlife and land through Citizen Science. We have also recently received the Ontario Federation of Ornithologist’s Certificate of Appreciation in acknowledgement of our leadership and dedication to promoting bird conservation and ornithological research through the #Hike4Birds across the Trans Canada Trail in recognition for connecting people to nature and promoting stewardship for birds and their habitats.

We are photographing, posting regular updates about our trek and growing life lists of birds on our award winning blog, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter which are freely available for anyone to enjoy and follow along.

To get a better sense of what we are undertaking, to learn more about our upcoming walk across Canada, or to simply follow along: www.comewalkwithus.online

I would welcome the opportunity to share the news of our four year venture across Canada. Thank you kindly for your consideration.

Company Contact Information:

Logo Tourism Nicola Valley
Company: Tourism Nicola Valley
Contact Name: Greg Girard
Contact Phone: 17785851878
Contact Email: [email protected]
Company Website: https://www.comewalkwithus.online/

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