Enthusiastic South Okanagan Seniors Kick Off Take Back the Wild

Written By Alana Wittman, Community Engagement Coordinator

The South Okanagan-Similkameen (SOS) is known for its rolling hills and sweeping valleys dotted with world class wineries. Looking beyond the vinyards, the SOS is Canada’s only ‘pocket desert’ which supports a diversity of unique plants and animals. The SOS is growing quickly, a phenomenon that is putting strain on the natural environment.

Take Back the Wild: Raising the Voices of South Okanagan-Similkameen Seniors is seniors-led project driven by a passion for the environment, based on a long history of witnessing changes. Seniors and Elders have witnessed young people becoming disconnected from the environment and leaving rural communities for urban centres. They’ve watched the increasingly warmer winters and hotter summers take a toll on their local environments. They’ve witnessed critical grasslands get covered over by concrete. Take Back the Wild is an opportunity for participants to leave a more hospitable legacy for future generations. 

Summit A, November 11th-13th Princeton, BC

Remembrance Day long weekend marked the first Take Back the Wild conservation training summit designed for seniors. Sixteen aspiring conservationists joined us from across the South Okanagan-Similkameen to learn from local leaders in conservation, engage in dialogue on key components of campaign planning, and to inspire and celebrate regional conservation in action.

This summit is the first phase of their 5-month long Take Back the Wild journey. Through workshops, presentations, and discussions, participants were introduced to wide range of campaign skills including storytelling, community engagement, and media relations. Participants were keen to share their own experiences and to learn from one another, CPAWS-BC staff, and speakers. 

The training summits provided the opportunity for these leaders to develop campaign skills and build a supportive, local network to enable them to implement or contribute to existing conservation projects in the next phase of Take Back the Wild.

The final training summit will be made up of two-day long sessions delivered in Penticton. November 25th will be held at the En'owkin Centre, focusing on building meaningful relationships with Indigenous communities. November 26th will be held at the Shatford Centre, focusing on government relations and project planning.

Following the summits, the participants return to their communities feeling empowered, engaged and ready to take action. Each participant will take on a conservation project, that enables them to use their new skills to create and inspire positive change in their communities. 

Thank you to steering committee members Doreen Olson, Don Gayton, Phil Elliot, Margaret Holm, and Glenn Sinclair who helped redesign the Take Back the Wild program, initially designed for young adults, to address the needs of a mature adult cohort.

Thank you to Rock Ridge Canyon for providing us with an incredible setting and for keeping us nourished with delicious food.

A huge thank you to the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors program for funding Take Back The Wild: Raising the Voices of South Okanagan-Similkameen Seniors.

And thank you to Modo Carshare for supplying us with a vehicle to transport staff an supplies to the summit. CPAWS is one of 500 Business members carsharing with Modo.

Stay tuned for upcoming summits as we take this project around BC to engage and empower more conservation leaders!

To learn more about Take Back the Wild: Raising the Voices of South Okanagan-Similkameen Seniors, please visit: www.cpawsbc.org/ campaigns/seniors

Funded in part by the Government of Canada’s New Horizon for Seniors Program.